There is always a lot of work behind successful software development projects. Planning, development, and maintenance are the three pillars and significant software development best practices that sustain that success.
Behind each of these strict processes, there are people - interested parties. At least two. Product owner (Client) and development team (Supplier). With that, everyone has their interests.
In an ideal world, the scenario is as follows. The product owner gets a quality product and profit, the development team performs the project on time (without loss of quality), and receive a fee. It is what we call successful software development.
But the world is not perfect. Unfortunately, software development best practices are not the top priority for all developers and more than often, such a scenario occurs in life...
What happens if neglecting software development best practices?
A Client applies with a software development Supplier to create a custom software product. This Client is a non-technical person, very busy, and can’t dedicate much time to software development management. The Supplier ensures the Client that he is good in coding in software engineering and everything will be done successfully. Hence, the Client trusts and relies totally on the technical competence of the Supplier.
Time passes by...
The supplier shows delivery packages to the Client from time to time. The Client tests them, all looks good and the functionality that the Supplier mentioned works.
Some more time passes by...
The Client finances the development, and the Supplier confirms that all is well, but the software is not ready for launching yet.
Some more months pass by, but the situation doesn’t change much in general. The Client then becomes worried and decides to get an objective overview of the state of software development. The Client then involves an independent IT consulting specialist to evaluate the existing software.
The independent tech consultant then brings to light that:
- the functionality reported as complete has plenty of bugs
- the approach to creating it was not optimal
- the solution is hardly scalable
- the programmers did not follow the core programming practices in software engineering
The result is that the Client has wasted money and time, cannot trust the current Supplier, and cannot continue development in this way.
Because of the software’s poor quality, it does not make sense to develop it further or fix the existing bugs, as it will cost more than to create it from scratch. Also, there is no option to launch it soon...
To avoid such a situation, we offer to use software development best practices in managing projects. Here they are.
№ 1 of software development best practices: Trust but verify
It is OK to be a non-tech person, but at the same time, it is better to add basic software requirements specifications for your future product in the agreement.
- create SRS yourself
- write it with your software development team
- or simply find a professional and pay him for it
It will help both sides to understand the project scope, goals and define a clear KPI.
№ 2 of software development best practices: Business logic above all
It is the right approach when the main goal is not just developing software but creating reliable business tools. Even if it isn’t ideal from a technical point of view, it should still fulfil its main business goal.
That is why it’s crucial to describe the whole logic (ideally in relational schemas) and make sure that your tech team understands precisely what you want. You can always ask the team to summarise your requirements and evaluate their understanding based on the answers.
Important: Keep tracking all the requirements and descriptions of your software’s logic in emails or live documents, or via a task management system.
№ 3 of software development best practices: Make a detailed and precise plan
For a non-tech person, coding in software engineering is not a priority. In turn, a clear and straightforward set of steps that are easy to understand is essential. Every step in the plan should have a uniquely defined indicator of its completion.
For example, an unclear completion indication would look something like this:
- Functioning System of push notifications
While a clear completion indicator would look something like this:
- Functioning System of push notifications, i.e. every user (when he is logged in on iOS & Android devices) on the platform will receive information on his device about newly added activities for a news (articles) list for each category separately. There will be the possibility to turn notifications on/off for each class individually or for all types at once in a settings menu. If a user clicks on a notification, it will automatically redirect him to that particular article’s screen.
№ 4 of software development best practices: Request reports and sets up risk alerts
Implement a system of reports, which allows progress tracking and evaluates the readiness of the plan. There is a simple rule — if work time was spent on something, there should be visible progress. It is better if reports correspond to an appropriate plan (daily, weekly, monthly).
Important: agree with your tech team that it is their responsibility to check and give you notice of any risk:
- possible development time increases
- potential additional expenses for 3rd party services
- and basically about anything that may impact cost, timing, and quality of the solution
№ 5 of software development best practices: Communicate and receive feedback regularly
It is crucial to have meetings at least once a week for at least an hour. Remember that you are the person who cares most about your project. Make sure you are communicating often enough to guarantee that both sides understand what, when, and how should be done.
№ 6 of software development best practices: Ensure your intellectual rights are protected, and you have access to the code
A Supplier often develops a software product using their resources (laptops, servers, cloud, git repo). It is important to remember that every paid part of the software product should be the Client’s intellectual property if it was not stated differently in the agreement.
At the same time, you should have an archived copy of each version of the product. In the case of any force-majeure, this will make it possible to continue any software activities quickly.
Conclusion: Software development best practices in short
Of course, real situations in software development could be way more complicated and require more detailed work in various aspects. But if your main goal is to get the best results in a software development project, you should have in mind these main aspects:
- Consider SRS
- Connect business logic
- Make a work plan
- Request reports and sets up risk alerts
- Take care of regular communication and feedback
- Ensure intellectual property protection
We hope that using our practical advice on software development best practices gives you an excellent chance to create your success formula of managing software development projects with fewer risks.