What is software development expertise?

What – really – is software development expertise, and why is it important to your business?  Is “good enough” actually good enough?  Few people really need the best of the best, right?  I hire a plumber, he does an adequate job.  Good enough.  Right?

When I broke into this industry so many years ago, I was appalled to learn that – depending on the report one looked at – the failure rates for IT-related projects was somewhere between 65% and 78%.  Worse is that these numbers are generally from start to finish of development… what about long-term ramifications?  Can the success of a software system’s extensibility, maintainability and scalability be so easily measured as well?  Not likely. Those dismal statistics cover only a portion of the true value of a custom software solution.

Business software development is hard.  Writing code in itself is fun (and not fundamentally difficult) but a successful software project is so much more than just writing code: it’s communication, the ability to juggle features and requirements and cost constraints and policies and priorities and staff and decisions and any number of other things, and finally factor into that mix that all of the prior tend to change, and they tend to change fairly often.  It’s no wonder it takes the right kind of mindset to pull this off.

Why is software development expertise important?

Along with being hard, expert software development is critically important.  When you decide to invest in a custom software solution for your business, you’re not trying to prototype what you hope to be the next viral game app.  You’re investing in the foundation on which your business operates and must continue to operate on for many years to come.  Even that statement plays down what an undertaking like this should cover though… the ability to operate your business for years to come with this investment should be only the most basic, bare minimum of requirements!  This software investment should most certainly do that, but really, for the cost of this stuff you hope it ought to do a whole lot more.  An investment like this should empower your business, allow it to thrive, grow and take on new life and adapt to things as time goes on.  Business itself is rarely a stable, unchanging thing: why then, shouldn’t your business software be prepared to handle the same?

Investing in the foundation on which your business operates for years to come. Click To Tweet

Enumerating all of the advantages of hiring the best app development companies to make this happen is not a simple thing as there’s so many aspects involved.  Here’s a short list of some of the most important things:

  • Security: in software development, security is unique in its breadth of coverage as well as depth of coverage.  No other aspect of a software system covers such ground as this.  Furthermore, security is not a finite or pre-described set of practices to follow but rather a fundamental way of doing things that’s not only baked into the most basic of software development processes, but also heavily factored by the unique shape of your custom solution.  Hiring a software development expert helps ensure that all areas of this complex, critical and integral part of your system are well cared for and that your security and policy requirements are adhered to.
  • Maintainable: whether it’s due to the evolution of business or technology, software does need to be maintained, and good maintainability of a system is difficult for non-experts to achieve. It’s also subtle in that this factor is not realized until after the initial development is complete.  This often doesn’t become a known issue until after the fact: a slow bog sinking you down and making it difficult to continue forward.  Software that is not constructed in a maintainable manner can be very costly over the long run, sometimes being so bad as to require portions (or even all) of your software to be completely re-written to handle simple updates.  Well-constructed, maintainable software on the other hand easily allows for minor changes without requiring large amounts of backwork to an existing codebase.
  • Extensible: akin to the maintainablility factor, extensibility is a measure of how easily your software can be extended with new features.  This is typically driven by the evolution of your business over time, but can also come from more distinct things such user requests or further streamlining of your business processes.  A software system that is not architected to be extensible essentially becomes locked in place and extremely difficult to manage to your evolving business needs.  Like maintainability, how easily your project can be extended in the future is often only realized when the time comes: it’s difficult for this to be evaluated at the time of construction, except by those with extensive experience in software architecture and development.
  • Project Management: yet another critically important consideration is how well a software development company can manage the many currents of project management.  Communication can safely be called one of the most important aspects of a successful software project: are your development company’s project leads experts in the art of managing communicating requirements, timelines, and costs in a transparent and proactive manner?  Are they able to effectively ensure that business-jargon is translated to programmer-jargon without anything getting missed?  Are they able to adeptly manage the complexities of project management while keeping you informed without ugly surprises?  Agile development practices are a nice help here, but they often take a certain mindset and discipline to use effectively as well.

A Real-Life Example

Earlier this year we were approached by a legal firm to help integrate their documents management to the cloud solution NetDocuments.  This involved taking their existing software (which worked heavily with MS Word and Excel) and making the appropriate conversions and interfacing to the cloud.  As part of our work, an unrelated request was made: “our firm name will be changing, can you update the documents code to write the new name instead of the old one when we generate documents from our system?”

The answer to this should have been “sure, no problem.”  The time it should have taken to do so would have been 15 minutes or so.  Alas, the original authors of the software had not followed appropriate practices, and this should-have-been-15-minutes-or-less operation ended up somewhere around 15 billable hours by the time we were done untangling the proverbial ball of yarn enough to make the necessary changes (rest assured, our client was informed beforehand and were fully in tune with the difficulties involved).

Imaging being stuck with 15 billable hours worth of time for a task that should have been pretty much free.  This is a prime example of a software that is not easy to maintain and a real-life testament to the importance of hiring someone who knows what they’re doing (and besides, it’s a good indicator that most people don’t know how to tell an expert software developer from a mediocre one).  Keep in mind, this was but one very small request!  The subtle factors of how the software is constructed can have severe implications long after the development is complete.

What can you do about it?

Every company should consider a custom software development investment to help streamline their business operations.  Hiring an expert custom software development company not only helps to build a solid foundation under your business, but does so in a way that gives you a competitive edge with tightly streamlined operations that can continue to be utilized for many years to come.  Additionally, software created by true experts will be easily maintainable and extensible, allowing you to quickly and effectively incorporate changes to that allow you to grab and hold when opportunities for your business furtherance arise.

At Dymeng, we have decades worth of experience in building custom business software solutions.  Members of our team have been formally recognized and globally awarded as some of the best in our field, and we’re in constant contact with other leading industry experts who all share a desire to improve the collective knowledge and skills of the development communities at large.  We love business and programming and strive to be masters of our craft: streamlining businesses through software.  Do feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions on how we might be able to help you.

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