Let’s be honest, software development projects are some of the most challenging endeavors in the world of modern business. There are so many potential pitfalls, including communication blockages, missed deadlines, unaligned visions, and more, that it’s almost a wonder when they get released at all, let alone in an ideal state.
Yet with each project, successful or not, lessons are learned and passed on so that those same mistakes can be avoided in the future. Companies like Asahi Technologies build experienced software development teams that can utilize those lessons learned to consistently deliver custom software applications of any size and scope.
Still, many companies are willing to brave their application development using internal resources. We’ve put together our list of the most common software development challenges and solutions.
Challenge 1 – Unclear Vision
It’s all too common for a software development project to progress through hundreds of hours of work only to be stopped short because two team leads realize they’re working on totally different projects.
Poorly defined project goals are the bane of software development, and they are probably the most common cause for failure to deliver.
What happens is the scope and goals for the project are vague at the start, which leaves the various teams to fill in the blanks with what they think such and such should look like or how it should function. At the end, they’re left with a mess that may not even satisfy the original intent of the project.
Solution – Define the Project First
The way to avoid this is to fully define the project before development even starts. Reach a consensus on all of the details and communicate that consensus to everybody who will be working on it.
Make a list of questions and then answer those questions. What will the end result look like? How will the user ideally interact with it? What problems does this application solve? What benefits does it have for us?
The more completely you answer the questions about the application before development begins, the more smoothly the actual development process will go.
Challenge 2 – Poor Communication
Because software development projects are often very large and involve a variety of teams, communication can quickly become an issue. Teams become “siloed” and isolated from one another, and there are many cases of Team B working on Thing 5 when they should be working with Team A on Thing 3.
With miscommunications, projects can become confused and messy, goals can shift and warp, and development times can extend far beyond original deliverable dates.
This seems like it should be an easy problem to avoid, but simply encouraging inter-team communication via emails and impromptu calls isn’t enough.
Solution – Establish Frequent Regroups
Project managers should schedule frequent and regular 1-on-1s with team leads, and team leads should have regular team meetings to stay on top of what everybody is doing. There should be frequent project regroups where everybody is updated on progress status and goals should be revisited to keep things on track.
Many development teams use the AGILE method, which involves daily meetings and breaking the project up into “sprints,” where one component is worked on and completed within a given time period.
Challenge 3 – Misjudging Costs and Budget
It’s all too easy to under-budget for a development project. There are so many moving parts that may not be apparent at the project kickoff, like software licenses, overtime pay, contractors, etc.
Things can quickly get out of hand and lead to overspending if potential costs aren’t accounted for at the beginning.
Solution – Communicate Realistically
Before work begins on the project, have the various teams put together a list of what they’ll realistically need to meet the established goals of the project.
For example, it’s easy for a developer to say she knows how to use photoshop and can handle the graphics, but then find herself not up to the task when the time comes to actually do it. Find out if you need to contract a designer beforehand and you can include that in the budget.
It’s also important to make sure everybody has the software licenses they’ll need.
Observing best practices like the other solutions talked about in this article will make it easier to obtain a realistic idea of expenses for budgeting your project.
Challenge 4 – Complex Technology Integration
During a large-scale development project, data is coming in from a variety of sources and can become messy and overwhelming if not properly integrated onto a singular platform.
This data must be interpreted and understood by the various teams for the project to remain on track and avoid becoming a Frankenstein’s monster of poorly fitted parts.
Solution – Create or Use an Integrating Platform
In some cases, a company will create its own flexible application to unify the various data during a development project in a way that’s accessible to all teams.
However, there are several great already existing options that can help with data integration and even present data maps. Marketo, SFDC, and Eloqua are popular choices.
Challenge 5 – Lack of Proper Expertise
Companies developing in-house software applications will sometimes try to cut costs by only using the staff already on-hand. This can frequently lead to sub-satisfactory development and projects that fail to meet their goals.
Solution – Be Honest About Your Capabilities
It’s important to be as honest as possible about the capabilities of your staff and whether or not they’re suited for your particular project. It never pays to skimp on hiring the best people for the specific tasks.
Make sure your programmers are fluent in the particular programming language that’s needed for the project. Make sure you have actually experienced designers on the team. Get technical writers for the documentation instead of leaving it up to the engineers and coders.
The more capable your team, the better the results.
Of course, often the best option is to outsource your project to a contractor that has the experience and expertise to deliver what you’re looking for while avoiding all of these challenges.
Asahi Technologies has been building custom software applications and providing custom web application development services for customers for over a decade, and we’re confident in our ability to create the perfect application for your needs. Reach out today for a consultation and to find out exactly how we can help you realize your project.