How tech companies can avoid software development risks
Developing custom software can be extremely complex. As a project manager, you’ll likely also face major challenges when it comes to estimating the software development risks of your projects. Although you can work diligently to establish schedules and budgets, ongoing threats that could derail a project include possible delays, cost overruns, or issues communicating with stakeholders.
While you can’t completely eliminate the risks in software development, you can take steps to avoid them. Consider these scenarios and solutions before you start your next project:
Client sets an incorrect deadline
Sometimes your customer’s team sets deadlines that are not aligned with the estimates from your technical team. That means the members of your development team will have to work overtime or you’ll have to add more people to get the job done.
Solution: Before you start the project, you should ask your client if the deadlines can be moved forward. If not, then it makes sense to focus your efforts on the most important features of the software, rather than addressing each task equally.
Product specifications are too vague
If the specifications for a project are too generic, it’s likely that one or more features will fall out of scope. Consequently, more requirements will be added to the project during the development process, resulting in missed deadlines and overtime for your team.
Solution: If you’re not sure the client has specified everything in the contract, don’t sign it. Start with a business analysis of the software development project, then formalize the business requirements into functional specifications, describing all the features in detail and prioritizing them in order of importance.
Meeting regulatory requirements
Regulations, including HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) for U.S. medical industry projects, GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) for European Union products, and PCI (Payment Card Industry) compliance for processing credit cards, may introduce extra considerations for data storage, development practices, and the design of the user experience.
Solution: It’s critical that you and your team are aware of these requirements before you start a project so you can discuss how they’ll affect your workflows and deliverables.
Not choosing the right technology
Deciding on the right technology is one of the most important decisions you and your team will make during the discovery phase of a project. A common risk in software development is putting too much emphasis on one popular technology.
Solution: Rather than focusing on a popular technology, identify the problem you need to solve and the most appropriate solution. It might not always be the latest and greatest technology to hit the market. Be diligent and make sure the tools don’t pose security risks and have updated specifications. Add more time to the estimate in case your developers haven’t yet worked with some of the updates.
Working on existing source code
It can be risky to take over an ongoing project with existing source code. Your team must investigate and assess the quality of the source code and identify elements that should be rewritten to be more efficient.
Solution: Be sure to request all the existing documentation, and try to investigate any issues that made the work difficult. Additionally, speak with the previous team to discuss the details of the project. Analyze the source code before you present an estimate to understand the challenges ahead of you and your team.
Making code mistakes
If your developers make a mistake in the code, miss a deadline, or otherwise cause your client to lose money, that client could file a lawsuit against you.
Solution: Carry technology errors and omissions insurance, which can cover claims of negligence in your professional work, including allegations that you installed faulty software or introduced security vulnerabilities in the technology you developed. General liability insurance can protect you against liability from third-party claims, including copyright infringement, a risk for software developers.
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