Apr 07, 2014
Does your company have a defined software development process? If not, why? Do you think you're too small, or that it will get in the way of development? There's no right answer for every company, but generally speaking, if you have developers working on a project, you already have a software development process. It just may not be well defined. If your projects are very short, and managed by a single person, then no formal development process makes sense. But as your development team(s) grow, you will increasingly encounter challenges with this approach, and if productivity isn't to come to a complete stop, something has to be done.
Look out for these 5 signs that your company needs to define its software development process.
Developers are disorganised, and doing things in different ways
Every developer comes from a different background, and has different habits. Some good habits, and some bad, that they likely picked up in previous parts of their career, or during their education. It's therefore natural that as you begin to increase the number of developers you have working together on a project, that everything begins to get disorganised.Your developers all have different preferences for the way they want to work, and they will all work in different ways without standards to follow. This disorganisation isn't sustainable, and needs to be managed. If it isn't managed, your developers will never work well together, and will frequently clash.
Output and software quality is inconsistent
One of the most common signs of a poorly defined software development process is the inconsistency in output. Without a well defined methodology, the same bugs will repeatedly make their way into your software, and code will be a challenge to review.Common inconsistencies can include:
- Using different naming principles for functions, classes, variables, etc.
- Using different comment formats throughout code.
- Using different modules or frameworks for building applications.
- Testing some pieces of code adequately, but not others.
A defined software development process with multiple points of failure will lead to vastly improved software quality, and reduce the number of bugs and vulnerabilities that make it into your finished applications.
You have long projects involving many people
The longer your projects get, and the more people you have working on them, the more important it gets to have a defined process for working. If your projects frequently run for more than 6 months, and you have more than a couple of people working on each project, it makes sense to think about defining a development process.
Timelines often run awry and it's hard to predict completion dates
If your projects are constantly going over budget or over time, and you find it very challenging to predict when development milestones will be reached, something needs to be done. A well defined software development process will allow you to better estimate how long it takes for specific types of tasks to be done, and will ensure that problems or roadblocks are made apparent early, rather than late in the development process.
Developers struggle to get up to speed when put on other projects
The last of our five signs that your company needs to define its software development process is developers struggling to get up to speed when they're put on a new project. A well defined software development process makes the onboarding of new developers more efficient for a number of reasons:
- All code is produced, structured and documented in the same way
- Developers on the current team know exactly how to introduce a new member to the team
- The new developer understands what they're expected to do, and how the project will be run, it doesn't change team-to-team
So if your development teams are beginning to show these signs of weakness, don't leave it until it's too late. Define a software development process, and get productivity back on track.