Software development is a complex and challenging process. There are many things to consider, from the environment and tools you use to the methodology you follow. There are also many technical challenges that may arise during software development that you'll have to deal with.
Your ability to either avoid or address these challenges will directly impact the success of your project. After all, technical challenges can disrupt your team and result in significant delays, and adversely affect the ability to meet the project deadline. Not to mention that technical challenges can hinder the quality of the final software product.
By being aware of these challenges, you can take steps to proactively address them and minimize their impact on your development process. The following are 10 common technical challenges you will likely encounter during software development.
1. Keeping Up With Rapid Technological Advancements
The software development landscape is constantly changing, with new technologies and frameworks emerging all the time. It can be difficult to keep up with these changes, let alone learn how to use them effectively in your project.
As a result, you may discover that some of your development tools are no longer viable for your project or that you need to update your existing tools to keep up with the latest trends. For example, you may find you need to constantly update development software frameworks, such as Angular, Vue.JS, and .Net Core, which can cause many issues.
Staying up to date with technological advancements can be a significant challenge, as it can require considerable time and effort to update your development environment. In some cases, you may even need to abandon older tools in favor of newer ones. It's essential to stay on top of these changes to ensure that your development process is as efficient as possible.
What Can You Do To Keep Up To Date?
Although keeping up with software development advancements can be a challenge, it's certainly not impossible if you take a proactive approach. The following are some steps that you can take to ensure that your development tools and processes remain current and up to date.
- Encourage open communication: Have an open dialogue about technological changes within the organization. You should encourage communication between software developers and other members of the company, especially regarding new tools and technologies, to help get everyone on the same page.
- Routinely evaluate tools: Periodically assess your software development tools and determine if they are still viable for your project or whether you need to update them accordingly.
- Offer training to your team: Consider software development training for team members who need additional support to learn about the latest technologies and tools. The more knowledgeable your software developers are, the less likely it is that they will be caught off guard by technological changes within your organization.
2. Undefined Quality Standards And Market Expectations
The problem with having constantly changing requirements is that it makes software development more challenging. Ever-evolving requirements can result in a lesser quality product or even no final product at all if the project gets canceled halfway through.
This issue becomes especially problematic when there is no clear definition of what "quality software" means. To mitigate this challenge, software developers need to rely on a set of protocols that will help them produce a software product within the given time frame and adhere to market requirements.
Create, Apply, And Maintain Protocols
Creating and following software development protocols can help mitigate undefined quality standards and market expectations. By having a set of guidelines that developers are expected to adhere to, you can ensure that products are being developed with a consistent level of quality.
With that in mind, the following are a few extra tips on creating, applying, and maintaining software development protocols:
- Define stakeholder expectations: Ensure stakeholders have clearly defined their expectations regarding what they want from the software development project.
Stakeholders who are unclear or ambiguous about the software development's objectives will often add or change objectives throughout the process, making development more challenging and may result in a lesser quality product.
By establishing contact with stakeholders early on in the software development process, you can better understand their expectations and ensure that they are aligned with your team's goals.
- Communicate requirements to everyone: Make sure everyone is on the same page regarding the goals you are trying to accomplish with your software development project.
For example, let's say your goal is to attract more customers by updating existing software to make it compatible with the latest technologies and devices on the market.
If this is the case, you should convey this idea regarding software requirements when communicating with developers.
- Define quality software expectations: Create a shared understanding within your organization regarding what "quality software" means.
For example, you may want software developers to adhere to a set of standards that includes technical feasibility,software performance, and usability, which can then be used when assessing the quality of software products.
Your entire organization must remain committed throughout the software development process for this strategy to work best. Even small changes in requirements can cause delays and affect the quality of the final product.
3. Maintaining Quality Output Consistently
Sometimes software developers may not be able to maintain a consistent level of quality in their software development output.
You may therefore need to implement the necessary tools and guidelines that will help keep software products at an expected standard.
There are many reasons why quality may dip occasionally. The following are some of the most common reasons:
- Lack of experience or knowledge: If software developers are not familiar with new coding languages, frameworks, or software development methodologies, they will likely produce a lesser quality product.
- Pressure to meet deadlines: This is one of the main reasons quality can suffer during software development. Developers that are put under pressure to meet a software delivery deadline may cut corners in order to finish their tasks, resulting in a lower quality software product.
- Poor communication: Suppose the client's feedback on their software product is not communicated with the development team. In that case, there can be significant discrepancies between what was originally envisioned and what is actually delivered.
As a result, poor communication between software developers and internal or external clients can hurt the quality of your software. Poor communication can also lead to software developers feeling overwhelmed and stressed, which will likely hurt the quality of their work.
- Lack of guidelines or standards: When software development teams do not have any specific guidelines to adhere to, they are often more likely to produce software that does not meet the expected standard.
- Developers are overworked: If software developers are working on too many projects at once, or your team is stretched due to unrealistic deadlines or workloads, it will be more difficult for your team to focus and produce software that meets the expected standard.
Set Up & Carry Out Testing Procedures
Testing is a vital part of developing software and should be done throughout the development process. The more thorough your testing process is, the easier it will be to maintain the quality of your software product.
As such, thorough testing can help address fluctuations in quality throughout the development process. Your team can perform many different types of testing, but some of the most common ones include:
- Unit testing: Unit testing evaluates individual software units or modules to ensure they work as expected.
- Integration testing: Integration testing is used to test software modules when they are integrated into a larger system.
- System testing: System testing is used to test software products in their entirety, including all the features and functions that have been implemented.
- User acceptance testing (UAT): This type of testing is used to determine if the software meets the needs and expectations of the end user.
4. Failing To Take Security Infrastructure Or Data Privacy Into Account
It's not enough that your software functions as intended once complete; it must also be secure for your users. Apps that aren't developed with security infrastructure or data privacy in mind are vulnerable to hacks, which could expose sensitive information, such as usernames, email addresses, passwords, and even credit card numbers.
If such a security breach were to occur, it could affect your company’s reputation and you would potentially lose a significant number of customers. You may also face legal repercussions if your company doesn't follow data privacy laws and regulations.
Plan Ahead & Keep Abreast Of Data Privacy Laws
Planning ahead is the most effective way to ensure your app is secure and that you abide by all data privacy laws. The following are a few steps that you should take:
- Identify potential legal issues: Ensure that your company has a clear understanding of how the software will be used by end users and identify any potential legal or ethical issues that software may present before it's released.
- Keep data privacy laws in mind: Develop software that follows data privacy laws and regulations. For example, if you are a software developer in the eCommerce or financial sectors, your software should adhere to the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
- Follow best security practices: Incorporate security infrastructure into software products from the get-go by following best practices for developing secure applications. This includes using strong passwords, encrypting sensitive data, and verifying user identities.
- Stay up to date with the latest laws and regulations: Keep abreast of data privacy laws and regulations, which can change from region to region. These changes could affect the way your software is developed, so ensure you are informed of any new updates in these areas.
5. Running System And Application Integration Natively
Running software integrations natively can cause problems for software developers. For example, software integrated with other software products may not work as intended or desired if the underlying system(s) isn't configured correctly. Improper configuration can result in costly changes to software code and testing processes.
If the integration of your software doesn't function properly upon the first installation then software developers may have to spend time debugging software code, which can be very costly.
If the software runs natively then this means that it's executed directly on the system hardware rather than in an isolated virtual environment. As a result, the software performance may not be optimal, or the software may run at subpar levels due to resource limitations of the system hosting its execution.
Understand End-User Requirements
To avoid the problems that can be caused when running software integrations natively, software developers should take the time to understand end-user requirements. Doing so will give them a better understanding of how software integrations will be used and help identify any potential issues from running software integrations natively.
Ensure that software is properly tested in an isolated virtual environment before being released into a live production system. Doing so will ensure software runs as intended and avoids any software performance problems, bugs, or crashes.
Plan ahead by factoring in integration requirements into the software design from the beginning of the project. Doing so will help avoid costly changes to software code later on down the line that are caused by running software integrations natively.
6. Ensuring Seamless Cross-Platform Functionalities
People use all types of devices using different operating systems when running software apps. As such, the demand for cross-platform functionality is growing. Software developers need to ensure that the software they develop works seamlessly across different platforms and devices.
To achieve seamless cross-platform functionality, software developers may have to write separate code for each platform, which can be time-consuming and costly. Additionally, software testing needs to be done on all platforms, so software developers will have to spend more time testing software on different platforms.
Establish Limitations and Opportunities
Depending on the software app, software developers may be able to work around this problem by using cross-platform frameworks or libraries. These are prefabricated functionalities that negate the need to write separate code for each platform. Doing so helps simplify programming and saves software developers both time and money.
When it comes to developing software with cross-platform functionality, it's also critical to factor in the limitations and opportunities of each platform.
Doing so will help software developers make the most out of cross-platform development and avoid any problems that may arise from using different platforms.
Some common limitations and opportunities that software developers should take into account include:
- The availability of certain APIs for a given platform
- The software developer's familiarity with a given platform
- The software app's purpose and target users
Planning ahead by designing software that uses cross-platform libraries and frameworks can help avoid costly code changes down the line caused by discrepancies between different platforms.
7. Being Unable To Overcome Time Limitations
Every software project has a time limit, especially if the software is being developed for business purposes. However, it's not uncommon for developers to be given insufficient time or resources to cope with this demand, which means they need to work overtime to meet their deadlines and deliver their projects on time.
Working long hours can affect software development. For instance, software developers may not be able to work at the same speed and efficiency as they would have when working under normal conditions, which can increase the likelihood of software being developed with bugs or errors. This may cause the software quality to decline, potentially creating more problems down the line.
Manage Workloads & Establish Clear Deadlines
There are a few ways software development teams can overcome time limitations.
- Communicate with stakeholders: One way is to communicate with stakeholders and get a clear understanding of what the software should do, how long it should take to develop, and what resources are available. Doing so will help software developers better plan their time and set realistic deadlines.
- Create task lists: Another way is to create detailed task lists for each stage of the software development process so that everyone is aware of what needs to be done and when. Doing so will help software developers stay on track and avoid any problems that may arise from working under pressure.
- Prioritize tasks: Software developers can manage their workload by prioritizing software projects based on deadlines and importance. This way, they can prioritize their essential tasks while setting aside less crucial tasks for later. This will help your team manage their time and workload.
- Outsource tasks: In some cases, software developers may not be able to complete all the tasks themselves and may need to outsource some work to other team members or contractors. Doing so can help software development teams meet deadlines without sacrificing quality.
8. Limited Resources, Talents, and Infrastructures
Lack of resources can be a significant problem for some software developers who may not have enough people or money to produce the desired results within certain deadlines. Doing so could lead to software development challenges such as software not being delivered on time or developers having to make compromises in order to meet deadlines.
Developing software with limited resources can also affect software quality if the team can't implement everything they would like at each stage of the process. This lack of control over the design and implementation of the project can lead to issues that need resolving further down the line.
Use Alternatives That Can Fill In The Gaps
If you don't have the resources you need, whether your team isn't big enough or you lack a certain skill set required to complete the development, you will either have to add developers to your team or outsource. The following outlines these alternatives:
- Hire and develop in-house talent: When software development teams are short on resources, they can hire and develop in-house talent. Doing so will help the team become more efficient and knowledgeable about the software being developed while saving time and money.
However, make sure that you'll be able to use that developer on other projects and in the future since you'll be paying a full-time salary (with benefits).
- Outsource / Insource work: Another solution is to outsource some work to other team members or contractors. Doing so can help software development teams meet deadlines without sacrificing quality. Outsourcing is a great way to fill skill gaps or add staffing when needed without taking on permanent employees.
The concept of “Insourcing” can also be used here. Insourcing is the model where outside contract resources are embedded within the company (even onsite) for better collaboration with the business.
9. Duplication Of Testing Environments
One software development challenge that can arise is the duplication of testing environments. This issue occurs when software developers are not using the same software environment to develop, test, and run their software.
Duplication of software environments could be due to a range of reasons, including lack of communication between team members or poor project management from upper-level leaders in an organization. When software developers are not using the same software environment, it can lead to several problems, such as:
- Testing errors: Software developers may find errors in their software when testing it if they are using different software environments. These errors can result in wasted time and money since they'll need to be fixed.
- Compatibility issues: Another issue is that software developed in different software environments may not be compatible with each other. A lack of compatibility could lead to software not working as intended or even crashing when used.
- Incorrect assumptions: Finally, software developers may make false assumptions about how their software will work if it's run in a different software environment. Such assumptions can lead to problems during development and even after the software is released.
Test Separately In A Real-Life Environment
If software developers are using different software environments for testing, they may not be able to reproduce the conditions of a real-life environment (meaning, how the software functions in the hands of its users following launch).
For example, you might test your software according to its intended use in a controlled environment. But what if your actual users end up trying to use your app in a different way?
The issue of software testing in an incorrect or unrealistic software development environment can lead to many problems down the line.
- Hire dedicated testers: A great solution is for software development teams to hire dedicated QA specialists to test software in a real-life environment. Doing so will help ensure that software is tested correctly and that any errors are caught before the software is released.
- Create a staging area: Another solution is to create a staging area to test software in a similar environment to the live site. Doing so will help developers see how their software works in a real-life setting.
- Use automated testing tools: Software developers can use automated testing tools to help them test their software in different software environments. These tools can help detect compatibility issues and other errors.
10. Implementing AI and Automation Successfully
Although artificial intelligence (AI) and automation can benefit your software development enormously (especially when it comes to saving time), they aren't always implemented effectively. A few things can go wrong when implementing AI and automation into your software development process.
For example, the software development team may not have the required skills to use these tools, leading to errors and slowing down the process. Additionally, excessive automation can cause issues as well. Some tasks can't be completed through the use of repetition and logic, and instead require a human developer to do them properly.
Use The Right Tool At The Right Time
There are a few solutions software development teams can try to overcome the challenges of implementing AI and automation into their process.
- Communicate with team members: One solution is for software developers to communicate more effectively. Better communication will help teams understand what AI and automation tools other teams are using and can help avoid software automation conflicts.
- Hire dedicated AI and automation specialists: Another solution is to hire dedicated QA specialists who will use software development tools to implement automation into your software development process.
Doing so will help ensure that your software developers understand how these automated tasks work and ensure your software is developed in a way that is compatible with automation tools.
- Use AI and Automation frameworks: Finally, software developers can use AI and automation frameworks to help them overcome the challenge of implementing these tools into their software development process.
These frameworks provide a guide on how to best use AI and automation in your software development project, helping you avoid any software errors along the way.
Plan Well And Stay Level-Headed
As you can see, there are countless software development challenges when building new software applications. These are challenges that every team will face at some point or another. The best way to address these challenges is by planning for them. Doing so will help mitigate potential problems and put your team in a better position to address them should they come up.
Finally, it’s important to understand that the development process doesn't end once your software has been put into production. You will still need to maintain, update, and patch your software regularly–and you will still have to keep these technical challenges in mind as you do so.