10 challenges in software product development
Software development is a complex process that depends on factors like the team or technologies that you use. It is important not only to choose the right specialists and tools but also to manage the whole process effectively. Regardless of what you are going to build – a simple application or a complex digital product – you have to reckon with the fact that you may encounter many challenges and obstacles on your way.
In this article you’ll find the ten most common and significant challenges you may face. I’ll show you how to deal with them and help you diagnose the bug areas in your application with a useful checklist you’ll be able to download. Remember, problems and bugs may occur in every IT project. By knowing which areas of your software development are generating problems, you can react properly, saving your time and money.
1. No strategy or an unclear vision
The first challenge I would like to mention is the lack of a strategy consistency or a vision that is not clear for everyone. It is a huge mistake treating the development team as people responsible only for delivering more lines of code, new views of an application or implementing new functionalities. A team should know the purpose of building software and understand well what problems it should solve. Why? A committed and effective development team is that which has a good understanding of the purpose of the product they work on. It is the key to their efficiency. They will give you not only a high quality code, but also provide you with a valuable feedback and new ideas for developing the product in a way that will help you achieve the main goals of the project.
2. No goals to achieve
The second challenge you may face is that your product team doesn't have set goals for each stage of software development. What does this mean? For example: if your team works in the scrum methodology, each sprint should have some specific goal that the team should achieve. Teamwork basing on achieving goals is more efficient and delivers better quality and business value.
Imagine that you are developing an application that is used in the beauty industry. Your team is currently working on a feature that will allow you to onboard more app users. If your team knows that the goal is to increase the number of new registrations on the platform, you can be sure that they will be more helpful and maybe suggest interesting solutions that can help you achieve this goal. In a situation where they don’t know well the purpose of a specific functionality, they will treat it like just another piece of the product that needs to be written and implemented, with no commitment. They will just implement the functionality that should be implemented. Let them be proactive by setting goals at the beginning!
3. Wrong software development methodology
While building and developing a software product, you always have to choose a development methodology. Here the main challenge is to do it right. For example, if you are building a top edge product with many issues that should be resolved during development process, the best choice can be using scrum methodology. You should not choose a waterfall model because it can be much more difficult for your team to achieve the goals and focus on the right things and deliver the right value. On the other hand, if you are going to set up another e-commerce store and all the requirements are clear, then probably scrum methodology won’t be the best possible choice. It all depends on the project.
4. Lack of competence
Challenge number four is the lack of required skills in your development team. It may happen when, for example, teams start with an MVP version of a product. Everything is going well and then suddenly you see that the number of users of your app is growing fast. On the one hand it's a reason to be happy - your product is very popular! But on the other hand, now your team faces a great challenge. The product is probably not technologically ready for such a large increase in the number of users. If your team doesn't have experience with a proper architecture or backend development, you may have problems with product management that will result in a few collapses of the platform. It is important that the people who are responsible for managing the resources of the development team know at which stage they should set up of the team properly or add the people you need to develop your product successfully.
5. Technological debt
Another challenge that happens quite often is the so-called technological debt. What does this mean? Even if you have a very good development team, you should remember that many things, including technologies, change all of the time. There are new versions of frameworks, new versions of libraries and most importantly there are new requirements that come from the users of the applications. If your team has no time to improve the architecture, backend development or the way the system behaves so that all versions are up to date because they focus only on adding new features, it won’t work. Then you can be sure that after some time you will face a big problem connected with the fact that the technology in your product is outdated. It also can generate further problems with adding new functionalities or changing something. You’ll need many changes in the existing code that will consume a lot of time and money. It is therefore essential for your team to have time to update the code and documentation with the latest versions of technological tools. Continuous improvement and updating are crucial.
6. Lack of continuous integration
Continuous integration is when a developer uploads a new piece of code to the repository and everything like code checking, building, testing and integration happens automatically. Why is it important for you? Because you will save a lot of time and everything will be cheaper and faster. Your developers will be able to focus on really important things and they won't waste time building new versions of the product. So if it's not already done in your product, you should focus on it.
7. No automated testing
Challenge number seven is about application testing. Testing things delivered by developers manually is very inefficient in most cases, consuming a lot of time and money. So you should focus on starting to implement automated tests, which can be implemented at many different levels. We have, for example, unit tests that focus more on code integration. We have integration tests which are more focused on testing the interfaces between the different layers of your solution and finally, with increasing importance are UI tests, where automated code simulates user behaviour. Developers and testers don't need to do the testing themselves. It is enough to write code once that will effectively do it for them.
8. Lack of metrics and feedback
Another challenge is the lack of metrics in the product you are developing. It means that you are not aware of how many people are registered on your platform, how people use your platform and where the potential problems may occur.
For example, you see that a lot of people go into the registration screen and then nothing happens. This is probably some kind of bug in the platform that should be fixed. But you don't track it, so you don't have data that allows you to detect the problem. It is also very hard to fix it without a good feedback of the users. So don’t forget to collect information about your app and its users! That data is priceless and allows you to diagnose bugs quickly and then to adapt your app to the needs of your users.
9. Lack of proper documentation
Your product development should always be based on adequate documentation, not for example user stories. You may ask yourself: what will happen if two of the best programmers in my team leave? Will we be able to keep up with product development? Or another question: what can happen if the whole team suddenly disappears? Will I be able to hand over the product development to another team and will they be able to continue it smoothly?
If you didn’t answer “yes” or you are not sure what will you do in these situations, it means that you probably don't have enough documentation to keep your product safe in case of complications. You don’t have to store many documents. It should be documentation that describes the really important, crucial things of your product development.
10. Separate product development from maintenance work and support
The last challenge I'd like to discuss today is separating the development work from the product maintenance and support work. If your software is in product version, it means that you should not only develop it by working on new features or new versions, but you should also work on support maintenance for its current users. Quite often it is shared between two teams. But if there is a bug in the current version that should be fixed, you probably need the best people in your team to do it. If you dedicate the best people to development and someone else does the day-to-day maintenance, you'll probably get far worse effects compared to a situation where the whole team works together and you just use priorities for the next sprints to focus on the right things. There is no problem with the team working on both things at the same time. If everything is set up correctly, for example, in a git repository, there is no problem getting it done.
I hope that the listing above will help you to verify the development process of your digital products. You have to remember that product development is a road where obstacles may appear. By knowing where those obstacles might be and what to do to eliminate them, you are in a winning position.
I encourage you to download the checklist below for free. It can help you detect possible problem areas in your app development.