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Product Development

9 Ways Custom Software Development Can Save You Time

Nisha Gopinath Menon
December 14, 2021

The turnover rate for software, in particular, is now the highest of any industry. Over 50% of companies outsource software development projects. But about 80% of software projects run over schedule. Studied scrutiny of the Software Development Life Cycle process in itself will reveal significant bottlenecks, which will cause adverse delays in the development cycle, irrespective of the strategy adopted or the product designed. When proactively addressed, the Software Development Life Cycle can be significantly shortened, reducing cost and increasing efficiency, while getting the product out in lesser time.

  1. Decrease system complexity
    Nothing slows down the speed of software development like a complex system. Complexity is inevitable in software development, and it's also a considerable speed inhibitor. It becomes more challenging to add features; spot, then fix bugs and just understand what's happening within it as a system increases in complexity. The only way to tackle this issue is by staffing right or picking the right team to work on your project. Novice developers tend to create overcomplicated, fragile, solutions while skilled developers build simpler systems.
  2. Be smart about technical debt
    Technical debt is a deliberate decision to write not-the-best code maybe to release software faster or implement a not-the-best solution. You're bound to take on some technical debt, and it can increase the speed of developing software in the short run. In the long term, however, it leads to system complexity, which slows you down. Thoroughly track your technical debt, maybe as a user story, to ensure that it doesn't get out of hand. This documentation will help you track how much you've already borrowed. Sometimes it becomes necessary to cut corners and push something out quickly to meet deadlines. However, rushing for the sake of it will result in shoddy code that's full of bugs. And for all the technical debt you've taken on, have a plan to reduce it via refactoring or a full rewrite. So your technical debt doesn't grow out of control, schedule "maintenance days" periodically.
  3. Decrease rework
    There are two primary ways of doing this. Firstly, find bugs early. Bugs in development are inevitable, but it's crucial to catch them soon. Developers with a fresher memory of the code in question will be able to fix bugs faster. On the other hand, having a long testing cycle can really affect bug-fixing speed. A week is enough to forget certain bits of the code, and context switching will slow your developers down. Also, the longer it takes to find a bug, the more expensive it is to fix. Secondly, create better specifications. Good specifications are crucial to help developers better understand a solution, reduce the no. of bugs, decrease rework, and just save time. Visual techniques are often the most helpful ways to describe and explain solutions to people. Take the time to make detailed specifications offering a better understanding of the final product from the start to set a good development pace. And as good as your specifications might be, you should still ensure that developers know what you're asking for. Developers' guesses can lead to mistakes and, inevitably, rework. Most bugs stem from unclear requirements. Holding a meeting to iron out the details before every feature or user story is one of addressing this problem. Review possible failure cases. Make sure the developers are asking questions. The pre-decided solution often changes drastically during these meetings.
  4. Use software automation tools
    Time is inevitably lost every time a project is handed off. Competent software companies know to make use of automation tools as much as possible. These tools, like cloud technology, speed up the transition between team members. Having far too many interdependent teams is a contributing factor to this 'waiting time.' A delay at one side will lead to the other side wasting unnecessary time. At times, especially if done manually, the application needed by the specialist team may take far too long for deployment. Other times, a team is waiting for other teams to complete their work, including the essential aspect of timely reviews for the many artifacts in the Software Development Life Cycle. Often including deliverables such as design documents, requirements, code, test reports, and test plans. In case the teams are geographically scattered, it becomes even more difficult to coordinate and control the pace of information flow. Automation can help reduce this waiting time. Where the infrastructure is available well in advance, cloud technologies have made it possible to fast-track development, reducing the initial wait-time.
  5. Handoffs and task switching
    In a handoff, a part of work is passed from one developer to another or a task-switch in which a developer moves from one task to another, a chunk of time is lost in realigning vital information, rework, and familiarization. At times, these changes may not have been documented well enough for the new developer to understand. Task-switching and Handoff waste can be reduced by using tools for automatic deployment. Here, copies could use internal applications between multiple environments and manage large releases in an organized manner. Time is also saved as all information and status are readily visible.
  6. Extra processes
    We've all had to deal with these. Often a bunch of overhead processes within the development lifecycle place an extra ‘burden’ on the team without adding much value to the customer or the product. Typically, legacy outdated internal processes, unnecessary documents that have no audience, reviews that no one responds to and useless metric collation, are what add up to become ‘extra’ processes.  Any step that adds little value to the customer, and slows down the overall Software Development Life Cycle should be paced up or better yet, eliminated.
  7. Avoid unnecessary features
    If you've done comprehensive research on your target audience, you'll know right off the bat whether they need a particular feature or not and which features are necessary for your business growth. Then prioritize features that increase conversions and revenue. Use tools to trace then align each feature to business ideas and seek documented approval before kicking off development. It's easier to respond to changing business dynamics with agility when you make the entire process traceable.
  8. Partially completed work
    Partially completed work can prove to be disastrous for time management in the waterfall model as the next stage of development begins only after the previous stages have been completed. Partially completed work could lead to waste in the agile model as well. When the team is working on multiple iterations, incomplete functionality might end up being tested much later when the cost of fixing it will be too high. A collaborative approach to development and automated agile dashboards are key factors used to identify partially completed areas. In an iterative approach, then, it is crucial to complete all dependency chains, especially incomplete stories. Within the iteration itself, as soon as possible, they should be brought to a logical closure.
  9. Cut back on activities that don't directly add value during sprints
    It's always crunch time when you're in a sprint. Every task becomes more urgent. Reduce time spent on activities that don't directly add value during a sprint. Unless absolutely necessary, cut back on meetings, and don't go into a meeting without a clear agenda. Encourage engineers to spend less time on side projects. Think twice about putting anything on your team's to-do list if it doesn't directly contribute to your sprint goals.

You have to be conscious of the inadvertent delays in your SDLC and adapt methodologies and technologies that help to reduce them. The considerable time savings will offset the initial investment in deploying these processes or tools. This way, you can remain profitable and stay ahead of the competition.

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Nisha Gopinath Menon