7 Common Software Product Development Pitfalls to Avoid | Hacker Noon

When it comes to software product development, the amount of pitfalls a team will be faced with is mind-boggling. Fortunately, however, it’s not all doom and gloom, especially if you have the foresight to plan ahead. In the media industry, time creep often morphs into what is known as development hell. The best way to mitigate time creep is to try to stick to deadlines, while making allowances for times when things really can’t be sped up any faster.

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@bojanbajicBojan Bajic

Bojan is the Head of Marketing at Infinum, an agency that helps companies transform their business with digital products

When it comes to software product development, the amount of pitfalls a team will be faced with is mind-boggling. When you’re struggling to narrow down a list to seven, that’s a sure sign that you’re going to have your work cut out for you. Fortunately, however, it’s not all doom and gloom, especially if you have the foresight to plan ahead.

Planning fallacy (time creep)

You know, sometimes writing these kinds of lists is like trying to choose how to order the songs on an album or playlist. I firmly believe you should come out strong with something that will set the tone for what’s to come, and the planning fallacy – otherwise known as time creep – is perhaps the analogous album opener.

The main reason I’d put this first and foremost is because time creep seems to be the thing that most people overlook. In the media industry, time creep often morphs into what is known as development hell. The term is so established, in fact, that there is an entire Wikipedia article dedicated to media notable for being stuck in development hell.

The best way to mitigate time creep is to try to stick to deadlines, while also making allowances for times when things really can’t be sped up any faster.

Inadequate budgets

Next up is the matter of budgets. Budgets, like time creep, can easily balloon if they are not kept in check. Indeed, time creep itself will naturally lead to an increase in budget, since time is money.

And while numbers and figures get most of the attention, there’s little talk about the different approaches to pricing – and which one is better suited for what kind of project.

Communication breakdowns

Since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down businesses all over the world, we’ve become reliant on telecommuting to accomplish work-related objectives. The software-creation business is no different. While it’s fortunate that a lot of software development can be done remotely, there’s still the matter of time-zone differences and language differences for companies spread over the globe.

It can also be difficult to showcase ideas or problems in a streamlined manner when working remotely, but communication breakdowns aren’t strictly limited to the virtual workspace; on the contrary, even onsite companies frequently struggle with communication issues, especially on large sites with employees spread out in different areas.

Security vulnerabilities

Security has always been a big deal with software development. What’s especially interesting about software development in particular is that there are security vulnerabilities present at every stage along the development process—from ideation to rollout. While software companies aren’t the only kind of company to face these challenges (for example, banks, intelligence agencies, etc.), they are definitely one of the most important types, especially when the security of millions of people’s data hangs in the balance.

Equifax, LinkedIn, Yahoo, eBay, Adobe, and other massive companies have all suffered data breaches. All in all, billions of users have been affected by data breaches, including 3 billion users from Yahoo’s data breach alone. It goes to show that even the biggest companies in the world aren’t immune to having their services hacked. All you can do is make every effort to ensure your software cannot be hacked. Similarly, every effort must be made to ensure your users cannot hack your company or the software you create, which could also see your company paying a catastrophic price.

One way to help bolster security is to ensure data protection through an ISO certificate. An ISO certificate certifies that a manufacturing process, management system, documentation procedure, or service fulfils all the requirements for quality assurance and standardization.

Quality assurance

Quality assurance is pretty much what you think it is: assuring the quality of your product. This can encompass a multitude of things, but a big part of it is bug testing. Indeed, bug testing goes a long way in preventing security vulnerabilities in the first place.

However, bug-free software doesn’t automatically equal good software. If your users find the software you create to be confusing, dense, or impractical, no amount of bug testing will fix this issue. Some ways for alleviating these concerns is mentioned in the next section.

Understanding of target audience

Just like movie producers, record executives, and marketers, a key to a successful product is understanding your target audience. A great way of understanding your target audience is to do user testing (whereby users test your product) and then make changes suggested by the testers.

In addition to user testing, you can send out surveys to your customers to make sure everything is working well. You can also have a button to send crash logs or any other helpful data.

Ill-calculated projection of audience demand

So now you’ve got everything running smoothly. Great! Except… uh-oh… it’s getting too big. While this is a good problem to have (in theory), it can also completely catch you off guard. You see it all the time with websites that blow up on link-aggregating sites such as Reddit. For months on end, you get a fairly consistent amount of modest traffic… and then BOOM! Your site or software gets inundated with a massive number of people in a short window.

Conclusion

Many of the things mentioned here in this article are interconnected. This is why it’s crucial that you don’t skip any one of these points to save some money today, because it could end up costing you dearly down the road.

If you’re not sure about any of these points, do your research! Many CEOs have run their companies bankrupt by not covering all their bases—make sure you do your homework so you don’t become one of them.

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