Mitigating the Inherent Risks in Software Development
Risk management in software development is an integral part of the project life cycle and continues from the project’s initial discovery phase to software deployment.
Software development risks, whether inherent to the software development process or specific to the organization or industry vertical, can impact a project in terms of timeline, quality, or cost.
In this article, we’ve included some of the most common risks in software engineering and how being prepared for inevitable risks ensures they don’t become larger, more costly problems.
The most successful projects result from an enterprise software and app development company like High Seas, with the experience and resources to handle any risks or problems during the project life cycle.
Why Risk Management is Important in The Success of Enterprise Software Development
Risk management in software development is the process used to identify, assess the severity of, and mitigate risks that arise in the software development life cycle.
A software development risk assessment and management plan should be put into place early on in the software development process in order to avoid costly delays and disruptions. Once a risk has grown into a full-fledged problem, it’s usually more difficult to fix.
Technical Risk in Software Engineering
Technical risks in software engineering are some of the most important risks to consider when setting sail on a software development expedition. It takes consistent software development risk assessment to prevent them from becoming full-blown problems. Technical risks include:
Choosing the Wrong Tech Stack
The tech stack used to build your software is the underlying technology that makes everything do what it’s supposed to do. It includes programming languages, operating systems, and databases.
Choosing the wrong technologies and tools can result in costly consequences that severely impact project success and cause a lot of headaches for you and your enterprise software development company. Using the wrong database can put constraints on features and functionalities. Furthermore, an unstable programming language could cause errors and software crashes.
How to Avoid It:
- Do your research when it comes to the tech stack
- Consult with the enterprise software development company to know what development technologies will work best for the features you want to include in your software
- Consider the type of devices your users will be using to access your software
- Work with an enterprise software development service provider that has a wide range of tech stack options and expertise in different languages
Expert software engineers like the crew at High Seas consider the risks and benefits associated with each tech stack and will choose the right approach for your unique project needs.
Poor Code Quality
The code is the foundation of your software, so it’s important that it’s high quality, well-organized, and error-free. However, in reality, low code quality is a common issue in software development.
As the software development process moves forward, more and more code is added to the project, which can lead to code bloat and a decrease in code quality. Poor code quality is often tough to debug and can cause your software to be rife with security issues. All of this adds up to a more costly development process, significant delays, and sometimes poor code that needs to be rewritten entirely.
How to Avoid It:
- Ensure that your software development team is following industry best practices when it comes to coding standards and conventions
- Use a linter tool to check the code for errors and potential problems
- Automate code reviews to ensure that every change made to the code is reviewed by another member of the team
- Choose an experienced enterprise software development company with high coding standards and thorough testing procedures before deployment
Working on Existing Source Code
If you’re working with an outsourced enterprise software development service provider to improve an existing software application, be aware that the codebase may not be up to current standards. Working on poor, unstructured existing source code, sometimes called spaghetti code, can present significant software development risks because it may not be well-documented, making it difficult to understand what each piece of code is supposed to do. This is why it’s essential to understand what has been done, so the consequences of changes are known before the changes are made.
How to Avoid It:
- Work with an enterprise software development service provider that has experience working with legacy code
- Choose a company that can help you refactor the code and improve its quality
- Ensure that the company you choose follows industry best practices when it comes to coding standards and conventions
- Consider working with a software development company that offers maintenance and support services to help you keep your software up to date
Integrating your software with third-party systems can present software development risks. The risk is typically lower if you use popular third-party technologies with huge support communities, such as open-source software. Another thing to keep in mind is you’ll need to update your software if the third-party provider releases a new version.
How to Avoid It:
- Do your research when it comes to choosing third-party software or technologies
- Ensure that the third-party provider offers good customer support in case you run into any issues
- Verify that you have a software risk management plan in place for updates and maintenance for when new versions of third-party software are released
- Work with an enterprise software development company that has experience integrating software with other systems
- Make sure that your development team is aware of all the other systems that need to be integrated with your software
Be sure to test the software thoroughly after integration to ensure everything is working as it should. Hiring the right development team is the best route for risk management in software development and will mitigate any technical risks or issues that need to be dealt with.
Operational risks include poor project management, prioritizing the wrong developmental steps, and budgeting issues, all of which can lead to increased project costs and extended delivery timelines. All of these, like other developmental risks, can be minimized and mitigated through proper planning to ensure operational risks don’t prevent successful software development.
Poor Project Management
The most significant risk in software engineering is poor project management, which can lead to frustration and misunderstandings that result in wasted time and money and, ultimately, make for unsuccessful project development.
How to Avoid It:
- Check to see if your software development team is using an agile development methodology
- Ensure that your project manager has experience working with software development projects and understands risk mitigation in project management
- Make sure that there is clear communication between you and your software development team throughout the project
- Work with an experienced enterprise software development company that has a proven track record of successful project delivery
Wrong Development Prioritization and Unclear Requirements
If your organization doesn’t have a clear understanding of what the priorities and requirements are during software development, it can lead to your team working on the wrong tasks, which will ultimately cause delays in your project.
Prioritizing certain parts of the development process over others can also lead to problems down the road. For example, if you prioritize design over functionality, you may end up with a beautiful software application that doesn’t work well.
How to Avoid it:
- Make sure that you have a clear understanding of your business goals and objectives
- Assign an experienced project manager who knows how to manage project workflows. This will make it easier for your team to follow and prioritize processes at the right stage of development
- Utilize project management mitigation methodologies to keep development running smoothly
Improper Project Schedule
There’s always the risk that a project may not be feasible within a given timeframe, and it’s important to set realistic deadlines. If there’s not enough time allocated for the development process, it could lead to rushing, taking shortcuts, and a longer, more expensive development process that may even result in a failed project.
How to Avoid it:
- Have a realistic and detailed understanding of your project timeline
- Conduct multiple interviews with your enterprise software development service provider to agree on an adequately scheduled project timeline that works for both parties
- Allocate enough time and resources for testing before going live with your software application
When software development budgets are underestimated, developer teams won’t have enough resources to build your software project effectively. This may lead to buggy software that doesn’t function as intended. On the flip side, overestimating development budgets can lead to unnecessary spending and wasted efforts.
It’s essential to create an accurate software development budget and track actual costs against the budget throughout the project. This will ensure you’re on track to achieve successful software development on time and within budget.
How to Avoid It:
- Work with an experienced enterprise software development company that can help you create an accurate software development budget
- Track actual costs against the budget throughout the project to ensure you’re on track and within budget
- Add a safety cushion to your budget to account for unexpected costs
- Allocate extra budget for software maintenance to ensure it is always up to date and working properly once your new software is deployed
Change Management Issues
Changing requirements, budget cuts, and scope creep are all common change management issues that can impact a software development project. If your organization doesn’t have a proper software risk management plan, these issues can cause delays, cost overruns, and frustration among the development team.
How to Avoid It:
- Set clear requirements at the beginning of the project and avoid making changes during the development process
- If changes are necessary, make sure that they are communicated clearly to the software development team
- Utilize agile software development methodology to manage changes effectively
- Work with an enterprise software development company that has experience managing change
Human Risk in Enterprise Software Development
There’s always the risk that the people on your company team and your developer team will inadvertently cause delays, miscommunications, and other issues that impact the success of your project. Being prepared for these risks is the best method for mitigating their effects. Ensuring everyone involved is on the same wavelength will help prepare for any eventual human risks that develop.
Some human risks in software engineering and how to prepare for them:
Lack of Engagement
One of the key software development risks is a team that’s not engaged with the project. If team members are not engaged, you could quickly encounter communication issues and misunderstandings that could lead to missed project expectations and, ultimately, a failed software project.
For example, if stakeholders are not actively involved in the project, they may not have a clear understanding of the project requirements. As a result, they may not be able to provide adequate feedback or sign off on the final product.
How to Avoid it:
- Make sure that all stakeholders are actively involved in the project and have a clear understanding of the project requirements
- Ensure that team members are engaged with the project by setting clear expectations and providing adequate resources
- Communicate regularly with all team members to ensure that everyone is on the same page
- Any communication issues should be addressed as soon as they’re noticed so team members can be re-engaged and the project continues smoothly
Missing Partnership Contract
An agreed, written contract is the best way to ensure all parties involved are on the same page throughout the development process. With everyone in agreement, your company and outsourced enterprise software development service provider will be able to push for a successful software outcome together.
How to Avoid it:
- Make sure you have a written contract that outlines the expectations, deliverables, and timeline for the project
- If you don't have a work contract, collaborate with an enterprise software development company that has a standard partnership contract
- Be sure to review the contract with all parties involved before work begins
Incompetent Development Team
An incompetent development team can cause your project to fall behind schedule, miss deadlines, or produce buggy software that needs fixing. Hiring a professional enterprise developer team will help keep projects on time, ensure resources are managed effectively, and produce software that does what you need.
How to Avoid It:
- Do your research when choosing an enterprise software development company
- Verify that the company has a good reputation and that their developers have the necessary skills and experience
- Request references from the company and talk to their past clients
- Get a clear understanding of the company’s development process
- Ensure that the company has a solid understanding of your project requirements
Team Member Unpredictable Risk
Even the most engaged and competent team members can pose risks to a software development project. There’s always the risk of unpredictable life events, such as a sudden illness or career change, that leaves the team scrambling to fill the hole before the project is detrimentally affected.
How to Avoid It:
- Make sure you have a solid understanding of your team members’ availability and commitment to the project before work begins
- Keep open lines of communication with team members so that you are aware of any changes in their availability or commitment
- Be prepared to fill any holes that may occur during the project
- Work with a competent enterprise software development company that has a plan in place to mitigate risks if there are any changes on their team
Other Unpredictable Project Risks
Aside from the risks mentioned above, there are other risks that can occur during a software development project that are beyond your control. Unpredictable project risks are usually associated with external factors such as changes in user requirements or technology becoming obsolete. Examples of unpredictable project risk include:
- Sudden market changes, especially in consumer behavior
- The rapid growth of a competitor with more available resources
- New government regulations
Regular market analysis will help ensure your business continues to be relevant in the market and you’re effectively handling risk management in software development life cycles.
How to Effectively Manage Risks in Enterprise Software Development
Professional enterprise software developers will know how to perform software development risk assessments that are integral for successful projects. More than just identifying the potential risks and problems in your development process, you’ll need a software risk management plan for dealing with them before costly delays result in unsuccessful software.
Identify and Classify the Risks
Risks are an inherent part of software development, no matter how much planning and preparation goes into a project, which is why it’s crucial to have a software risk management plan in place.
Now that you’re up to speed on the most common risks, it’s time to identify and classify each with a comprehensive software development risk assessment before the project begins. Identifying and classifying each risk will help you develop strategies for mitigating their impact and give your project the best chance of success.
Create a Detailed Enterprise Development Risk Management Plan
A well-crafted plan for risk management in software development will include contingencies for dealing with risks and mitigation strategies to reduce the impact of those risks. Taking the time to create a comprehensive risk management plan will help reduce overall software development risks and ensure those that occur don’t prevent your project from succeeding.
Constantly Monitor and Mitigate Risks
Having a risk management plan that’s not supplemented by regular checkups and risk monitoring isn’t an effective plan. Monitoring risks allows developers to identify potential problems early on and prevent them before they occur.
For example, constantly monitoring the codebase and ensuring it meets high standards prevents problems such as poor code quality and inadequate testing. Managing risks and problems may involve changing the development process, additional testing, or implementing more robust security protection.
Taking steps to mitigate risks will minimize the negative impact of problems and keep your software development project on course for success.
Hiring a Professional Enterprise Software Development Company
There are inherent risks facing any organization that chooses to invest in enterprise software development. From the initial project requirements outlined in the discovery stage to final testing and deployment, there are countless opportunities for things to go wrong, slowing development and increasing costs.
By hiring experienced enterprise developers, businesses can minimize the chances things will go wrong and improve the chances software development will be a success. Risk management in software development is a necessary component, and an expert developer team will be prepared to implement mitigation strategies when a risk or problem arises.
Choose High Seas as Your Enterprise Software Development Partner
Now that you’re aware of your software development project's potential risks, you should be better prepared to choose your development partner. Working with a professional enterprise software development company like High Seas will ensure that any problems or risks that may come up during your software development life cycle are handled in a timely, effective manner.
You can’t eliminate the possibility of risks or problems in software development, but by choosing the right software development partner, you can mitigate any adverse effects and minimize project delays and costly troubleshooting. Contact us to get your software development process started.