Top 5 Risks in Software Development That You Should Consider

Software development projects tend to last from several weeks to years, and involve teams of multiple people. With stakeholders and project managers to the mix, it’s obvious that there are many interests and they aren’t always in sync. Because software development projects generally tend to be complex, it’s normal that they are associated with risks.

All experienced development teams and product owners understand the importance of risk evaluation and planning. Obviously, the cost of preventing an issue is a lot lower than fixing it. This is why, if you are considering developing software, you need to be familiar with the five most common types of software development risks

Scheduling software development risks

Planning risks are one of the most critical for a software development project. If the process isn’t scheduled properly, it will sabotage the team cooperation and ultimately reflect at the end product quality. Scheduling risks can manifest in any project, but there are certain conditions when it becomes a lot likelier.

Software development planning issues

  • No software development plan: it’s a comment that defines the stages, objectives, metrics, and results of each stage of a product development process. If the plan wasn’t created or was poorly done, the software development company will have no guidance – which is especially important when things don’t go as foreseen.
  • No methodology: if the software development team failed to choose the identified methodology for handling tasks and processes, it will ultimately result in scheduling problems. When developers opt for a Waterfall, they know for sure that they have to finalize the stage. If they choose Agile, they are aware of the increased flexibility. Not specifying these terms hurts the project.
  • No responsible team members: project managers should take responsibility for planning the project, assigning task, and overseeing sprints.
  • No experience: if the vendor lacks the insights and tried-and-proven practices for organizing the project, it will ultimately result in the potentially problematic schedule.

Also, scheduling issues often arise to the lack of understanding of project requirements. Teams either underestimate their project’s workload or overestimate it, trying to buy themselves re time if something goes wrong. The most reasonable strategy of avoiding this issue is taking risks into account while writing software specification documents, but don’t treat the worst-case scenario as something that will definitely occur.

Budget development risks

Budget risks similarly to timing issues, are a result of planning failures. The consequences of budget problems might be even more noticeable than the timing ones. If the budget isn’t distributed correctly, the investments might go over the limits. In the best-case scenario, the software development company will be forced to perform other tasks on a smaller budget. In the worst case, the project might end up putting on hold.

Luckily, budget risks, similarly to the scheduling ones are solved with throughout planning. If the development company knows its possibilities and limitations, it’s possible to avoid the pitfalls.

The main causes of budget management risks are

No realistic understanding of product requirementS: some features might be more experience to develop and design than previously anticipated;

  • Problematic team management: if developers are bigger than needed or task aren’t distributed correctly within team managers, the product owner might end up paying for unessential resources.
  • No warning system in the project. The developers and product owners should agree on the ers mad controlling budget and alerting each other if there’s a tiny possibility of going over defined limitations. Financial management software can help spot these concerns in time.

To avoid budgeting issues, make sure that your trusted vendor has documentation and control systems in place. Ideally, you should be able to track real-time how are your resources allocated in the project and why.

Operational development risks

Even if the planning stage was handled by the team correctly, it’s still not a bulletproof insurance from other types of software development issues. Operational risks are the ones that can happen even in well-oiled teams of developers and have to be prevented over the course of the project.

The most common development risks

  • Wrong priority assignment: at the beginning of the development, teams might lack of understanding of product purpose, target audience, and main functionality. As a result, they might focus on the tasks that should be shifted to secondary instead.
  • Poor responsibility handling: communication with a product manager and assured understanding of the project of each team member is crucial for success. IF PM fails to communicate the deliverables clearly for each developer, the team will eventually end up with inefficient workflow.
  • Unbalanced tech stack. Project management should also take responsibility for choosing the necessary technology and specialists that possess the required expertise. If it’s done wrong, the team will use not the most fitting technology, and possibly, not fulfill the requirements.
  • No result metrics. Developers and testers should be aware of the main deliverables for the project. The way in which the results are defined should be transparent for all team members and stakeholders.

Operation risks are reduced with correct communication. If management and all team members are on the same page, the probability of these issues instantly becomes lower.

Technical problems and technology shortcomings

This type of risk is related towards the issue in the codebase itself, and results in worst performance, interface, functionality. They can be caused by some of the risks described above, but not necessarily. Sometimes, developers can be well-organized, but still face several problems with the technical aspects.

The most common tech risks in a software development technology

  • The available technology doesn’t make the realization of the product’s purpose possible. It could be that the product is simply ahead of its time. The innovation might not be able to catch up to the intent yet.
  • Sustainability and cost-efficiency. Some solutions are possible to implement, but they are expensive and require a lot of complicated maintenance. If the team fails to spot it early on, the product owner might end up with the product that has to be overly monitored and tested, potentially consuming large budgets.
  • Need for refactoring. A poorly implemented codebase will sooner or later need to be cleaned up. If there’s a lot of technical debt, underlying bugs, or purely documents fragments, developers will need to invest in refactoring.

The team needs to make sure that the technology can fulfill market needs and is sustainable learn-term.

External risks, out of the control of a software development company

Sometimes, even the best teams and products aren’t immune to the influence of external factors. Those can’t be fully avoided and prevented. Al that teams can do is research their market, country of operation, and worldwide tendencies to analyze the current situation. The goal is to discern the patterns on the market and make sure that they are favorable for your product and business model.

The most common and dangerous external risks of development projects  are the following ones:

  • Competitors’ growth: a startup can push a groundbreaking technology to the market, get noticed by a larger competitor, who will take inspiration from this innovation in their product. Having more resources, they will attract a bigger market share, eventually pushing the startup out of the market.
  • Government regulation: businesses that operate in highly regulated fields like healthcare, finances, transportation could be subjected to sudden changes in government policies. It’s important to check the latest legislation to see if conditions are favorable.

To predict external risks, developers can use machine learning and data analysis tools that will go over large datasets and detect patterns of the market, government, economy. Certain risks, like a worldwide pandemic, can impact the entire economy – in these cases, teams need a contingency plan for a project.

Final Thoughts

To carry out a successful software development project, teams need to account for each type of these risks. Here’s a checklist of activities that are necessary for successful risk prevention

  • Risk evaluation: each of the risks should be inserted in the matrix that assigns priorities, calculates the potential outcome, and assigns responsibility for handling the situation;
  • Planning: software development should start with the creation of a software specification document and development plan;
  • Communication with PM: a project manager is a person, responsible for organizing the process, distributing resources, and bringing all the tasks in the single bigger picture;
  • Automation: the process of data analysis, real-time tracking, measurement should be outsourced to management, accounting, and quality assurance software.

If teams are aware of the risks of each task and development stage, they will know what issues to avoid in the first place. This is why risk evaluation and prevention is an ongoing activity relevant for all stages of software development.

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