7 Keys for High ROI Software Development – Week 3

Through interviews with dozens of technology executives, Brainspire conducted a research study to find cultural and technical processes and practices that produce the highest return on investment for software development. Below is the third of seven recommendations to enable more effective and higher quality software development:

Key #3 - Leverage a Reference Architecture / Common Toolset

Develop and stick with your common toolsets, technologies and a reference architecture to reduce time to market and improve overall quality.

Across your organization, tribal knowledge of consistent technology standards will allow for quicker ramp up and produce more reusable code with fewer defects. Dev shops without standards end up using too many tools, have too many application silos and suffer from irreversible high costs as applications grow. Code with no common standards is difficult to support and nearly impossible to expand effectively. This doesn’t mean that new tools, techniques, platforms and architectures shouldn’t be researched, prototyped and introduced into the organization. However, the most effective organizations are thoughtful and even deliberate before deploying new tools, platforms or products.

While it is tempting to take short cuts and develop the quick “one-offs” to meet immediate business demands without adhering to enterprise standards, realize these applications rarely become enterprise grade and can spread like vines in your organization. How many one-off Access databases are in your organization right now? One CIO in the study discussed how far the organization had strayed from their original standards to the point where he admitted “we’re to the point of hiring a complete new team to start from scratch and develop a brand new system with a new architecture.” In addition (and unfortunately), no matter how hard you try to develop and maintain your standards, there will always be a business unit or three that go off on their own and buy the “latest and greatest” after seeing a slick demo. Sometimes it happens so quickly, it’s nearly impossible to stop.

Develop and publicize your standards across IT. Larger organizations may have enterprise architects that are assigned to oversee development efforts to ensure the reference architecture is adhered to. For smaller organizations, ensure everyone understands the importance of using the same playbook. Make sure every business unit leader understands to include a top technology executive in all technology buying decisions. Let them know you’re not trying to hold up progress, but enhance the long-term viability of the solution for the enterprise.


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