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8 Common Software Development Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

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The world of software development is fast-paced and ever-changing. The queue of feature requests never seems to shrink.

With the constant demand for improvements, adherence to best practices may start to slip. This is how mistakes begin to happen. The more prolonged the problem, the harder it can be to correct the errors – costing time, money, and resources.

Let’s take a look at some common software development mistakes and how to avoid them.

1. Not Listening to User Input

Development is ultimately about the needs of the end-user. Whether the product is internal or for a client, there is an underlying pain point that leads to a feature request.

At the onset, not utilizing or understanding customer input can lead to poor results. The new feature developed may not solve the problem and need to be re-designed.

Software development should rely on data or user stories during the planning phase. This may involve collaboration with other departments. Feedback from users is necessary to ensure that the end result is relevant.

2. Poor Time Estimates

Is the project going to take five hours or five hundred hours? Vague scope, optimism, and failure to think through all steps required lead to poor delivery estimates. When deadlines are missed, it is frustrating for developers and managers alike.

Sometimes there is also an imbalance between the number of requests and the resources available. This can lead to pressure to deliver, which may create a tendency to over-promise.

Teams should talk through what is involved in the time estimate, breaking down the requirements as much as possible. New team members will need to gain some practice before they can accurately provide time estimates. 

3. Relying on Temporary Solutions

It happens all the time. Applying a “quick fix” requires less time and less coding – buying time until the problem can be addressed. Sometimes developers will rely on a trick or band-aid approach in order to meet a deadline.

The problem is that the task is postponed and then forgotten. The technology debt will build and compound over time. By avoiding the upfront investment in a permanent solution, it can lead to a problem that is much more difficult to correct later. 

4. Protecting Against Vulnerabilities

Developers need to be well-versed in secure coding standards to protect against vulnerabilities. Mistakes can lead to critical issues. Security and common cyber threats need to be a priority during coding. 

Additionally, developers need to ensure that they have updated to the latest patches of any tools or framework used. Many times developers are responsible for their own environments and are unaware of regular software updates needed.

5. Not Sharing Knowledge

Teams should be encouraged to share business knowledge, expertise, and experience. Too often, the focus can shift to individual performance rather than the team as a whole. Inadequate software development training of new employees can slow down the development cycle.

The end result of a development cycle is typically a group effort. The product does not benefit from knowledge held in a vacuum. Emphasize the sharing of knowledge among the team.

6. Not Staying Current With Technology

Software development is a fast and furious field, with true experts constantly adapting to changes in the field. Individual developers, the team, and managers need to be aware of trends, large-scale industry shifts, or practices that are becoming obsolete.

There are many resources for staying current in the field, including:

  • Taking courses online
  • Get certifications
  • Read industry news or books
  • Listen to podcasts or watch videos
  • Join an online community

If the effort is not made to stay current, software developers may find themselves working on a product that no longer has relevance to the end-user. It is important to stay up to date in this industry, but it is also key to note that for most products, the technology used to develop the product is something that the users don’t actually need to know about. And, what really matters is if the product is able to solve real-life problems, and adds value to the users.

7. Inability to Evaluate Mistakes

Inevitably it will happen that a mistake is made in coding. The inclination may be “fix it and move on.” However, by bypassing a review of the error, how it occurred, and why, the developer is missing an opportunity to learn.

By assessing the mistake, the developer and team can evaluate how to prevent a future error. This isn’t a blame game, but an important introspection. The goal should be increased productivity by knowing how to avoid a future mistake.

8. Limited Code Review

There are different approaches to code review. One approach is that the product works as expected, and that is good enough. The other approach is a specific code review process.

High performing development groups understand the need for best practices and code quality. These groups understand that code cleanliness is tied to higher productivity and efficiency. Code review and standardization become a dedicated effort.

Peer reviews and pair programming are some techniques used for reviewing code, but besides the manual work and time it takes, these techniques are prone to human error. It can be challenging for developers to review their own code. After all, they wrote it, so it can be hard to look at the code from another angle. A tool that standardizes and automates code reviews can help developers become more efficient, identifying problem areas and improving the overall code quality. 

Follow Best Practices, Avoid Software Development Mistakes

From a business perspective, following the best practices in software development will lead to better performance. By expecting high standards in software development, the work will improve and the developers are more productive.

Each of these software development mistakes has a costly result. Time and resources are wasted. Flaws in the product lead to unhappy customers, or worse, such as security vulnerabilities.

Utilizing tools to implement these best practices, you will avoid some of these common mistakes. Codacy automatically identifies issues through static code review analysis. Learn more about how Codacy can be tailored to your needs and integrated into your workflow. 


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