The Most Common Software Development Challenges & How to Solve Them

Trung Tran

Trung Tran | 23/05/2024

Most Common Software Development Challenges & How to Solve Them

The tech industry is a dynamic and ever-evolving field in which constantly pushing boundaries and finding new solutions to complex problems is the norm.

At the heart of the IT sector, software product development is a challenging and demanding profession. Hence, it is no surprise that development teams would encounter a number of obstacles that may cause delays or even derail software engineering projects.

That’s why we have compiled a list of the biggest challenges so that you can navigate the entire software product development process with little to no frustration.

Key Takeaways:

On a software development journey, you may trip over a number of obstacles that could hinder your final outcomes. Being able to anticipate them can equip you to either sidestep them or brace for any potential difficulties later on.

  • Insufficient Direction and Leadership: A clear vision and guidance from project leaders/managers are crucial for steering development efforts on the right path, and vice versa.
  • Difficulties in Estimating Time and Resources Accurately: It is usually a daunting, risky task to gauge the project scope and allocate resources accordingly. If not done properly, project delays and budget overruns are inevitable.
  • The Scarcity of Skilled Developers: The demand for experienced personnel often surpasses supply. As a result, lots of projects find it costly and challenging to find and hire tech talent.
  • Project Scope Creep/Requirement Creep: Ambiguity in clarifying project goals, scope, and requirements may derail the development efforts or jeopardize the entire SDLC.
  • Communication Barriers: Any breakdown in communication may result in misunderstanding and errors, negatively affecting the project’s progression.
  • Rigid Deadlines: Tight schedules not only put immense pressure on development teams but also compromise the software quality.
  • Testing and Debugging: This is a time-consuming and effort-intensive process that is critical yet hazardous.
  • Maintaining Competitiveness: The continuously evolving tech landscapes demand that development teams stay up-to-date with the latest technologies and adapt to maintain an edge.
  • Opting for Development Methodologies: The development approach that does not align with the project’s needs may hinder progress and outcomes.

Absence of Guidance from Management

Absence of Guidance from Management

Software developers need clear instructions and guidance from project managers in order to handle their jobs effectively. Therefore, if they are left in the dark, it can result in chaos and confusion, which affects the overall software product quality in one way or another. This is the most common yet biggest challenge that possibly leads to project failure or delays.

Without proper strategy or direction, you and other team members could be miles away from the right track. Thus, let’s trace to the root, which is as obvious as daylight - to establish a clear and concise project plan. The project manager communicates and collaborates with all stakeholders (Including business analysts, quality assurance engineers, technical architects, developers, etc.)

Together, they work to define the software’s objectives, scope, timeline, and milestones. In this way, all involved stay on the same page. Beyond planning, management positions must actively engage with each team member to foster a work environment that is conducive to productivity.

Difficulty in Estimating Time & Resources

It is not rare to see software development projects facing the issues of estimating resources, which later leads to insufficient allocation.

Given the time and budget constraints, it is important to have realistic timelines for a software project that outlines every single detail, stage, and task of the project. By visualizing the whole roadmap, project managers or leaders have better insights to calculate and balance the workload and manpower in accordance with the defined timeline.

This way, developers know how much time they can spend on enhancing a certain feature or working on software testing and bug fixes, for instance. If a developer has too little time to work on the part of the project, it may not function properly or have features that are lacking. If we underestimate the amount of time it takes to complete a task, there will be delays in the project, and other members of the team may run out of work. On the other hand, if it takes longer than expected, then the project will stretch into an uncomfortable timeframe.

In terms of solutions, project managers should also consider one way - to break larger tasks into smaller chunks so they are more manageable. Also, developers can make use of project management tools (Such as Toggl or Harvest) to keep track of how much effort their teams are investing in a single task.

Additionally, setting deadlines is needed to help developers manage project activities and prioritize their tasks efficiently, knowing which ones need to be accomplished before others by a specific date. They are able to factor in any potential software development problems that may arise and work on a backup plan.

Lack of Resources for the Software Development Process

Lack of Resources for the Software Development Process

Software product development requires a variety of resources, including advanced technologies, tools, and expertise. Oftentimes, the challenge just mentioned above results in the insufficiency of resources when the SDLC (Software Development Life Cycle) actually occurs. It could be the shortage of skilled developers, budgets, tech stack, or tools. Overall, these constraints may hinder the progress of a project or even prevent it from being completed.

Part of the hurdle is due to the increasingly complex project requirements in an ever-changing technology ecosystem. In such a situation, the project team may not have enough funds to hire one new software developer or several who specialize in the required tech stack (Programming languages, frameworks, or libraries). Also, the lack of sufficient team members means a growing workload is placed on the shoulders of the existing teams. If not addressed properly, this issue will escalate and lead to software engineer burnout and further decreased productivity. What’s more, acquiring licenses for certain software or communication tools could also add to the financial burden.

So, what can be done? Fortunately, there are multiple workarounds for these road-blockers. For human resources, project leaders have a good option - to contract out a dedicated team or hire freelance developers to work alongside as an extension of their in-house team. When you opt for outsourcing services, you can save costs while still securing quality work. In terms of tech stack, investing in cross-training and upskilling programs for existing team members is a viable solution, especially when you are short on budget.

If developers do not have the right tools, it will be impossible for them to meet deadlines or produce a high-quality product. Since many different types of assets are available on the internet – from fonts and graphics to code libraries and scripts – it’s possible to find something that addresses your specific needs without having to spend anything at all. Managers can seek out and leverage open-source platforms, software tools, and libraries that are free of charge or budget-friendly. Obviously, it is a pretty good idea to ease the budgetary burden of one project.

One more tip for this problem is not to request too many features or enhancements at once. Last but not least, project teams need to look back and analyze the workflow to seek out areas where they can cut costs, save time, and use those funds and hours on other aspects.

Defining the Requirements of the Software Projects

One of the most time-consuming tasks before the development phase is to map out the project scope and requirements. Simply, this means figuring out what the product should do, how it should work, what problems it should solve, which features are needed, and how the various aspects of the system interact.

The requirements will shape the very first structures of any software application. Therefore, the detailed descriptions of what is expected to be the end project delivery must be straightforward, concise, and comprehensive. As such, software engineers have a good understanding of what they need to do. Unfortunately, it’s often difficult to get a clear picture of what’s required and even more difficult to translate that into specific instructions. If these requirements are not well-defined, it can lead to confusion and frustration on the part of the developers, which will ultimately delay the project.

It is essential to have clear software development initiatives and an exemplary process for defining the final agreed-upon requirements. This way, the development teams will know at a glance what they need to do, and their work won’t get unnecessarily stalled. One useful way to address this problem is by holding discussions with customers or clients when there are any questions or unclear requirements during the project cycle. Having these discussions will allow for greater clarity on what needs to be done and when things need to be completed. Moreover, the project team should create prototypes and test them with the customers for feedback.

Communication Breakdowns

Proper communication is the ultimate key to project success, which is not an easy goal to accomplish. Yet, it is not impossible. Miscommunication among stakeholders is a major concern during the project development phase. Why bother? These are common challenges, but still, they may result in a chain of consequences. Tangibly, the failure to communicate efficiently may cause confusion, misunderstanding, dissatisfaction, or even conflicts between team members.

To prevent these challenges of software development from occurring, you should invest in building an open, seamless line of communication between all parties involved: Establish an efficient communication process (with regular meetings or daily updates), employ new tools (like messaging apps, video conferencing tools or project management software), and use best practices (i.e., clear and concise communication, documenting everything that happens during the project). In addition, developers should be more proactive in connecting and exchanging info with others - asking questions, seeking clarification whenever there is any doubt, and giving timely feedback.

Under Strict Time Constraints

Under Strict Time Constraints

Next, developers need to be ready to deal with strict time constraints. In a few cases, deadlines are agreed upon even before they know what work needs to be done. In many cases, deadlines are agreed upon before they even know what work needs to be done, leading to a lot of pressure and frustration. Even if this issue doesn’t happen initially, it will most likely arise later in the project when the software development team encounters problems that might take longer than expected to address.

To deal with this challenge, companies should put an emphasis on good time management. Developers and project managers should set realistic deadlines and clear expectations from the start. However, they must be ready and willing to make adjustments when necessary because incidents or unexpected changes may occur halfway and make the project diverge from the preset trajectory.

Moreover, it’s advisable for software development teams to take the necessary time off for rest and recovery and build in time for contingencies. This way, even if unexpected events arise or the team finds themselves running behind, they can make up for lost time quickly without putting the project at risk.

Over-complicating the Software Development Project

Project complexity could be one of the top challenges that induce headaches for developers. In an effort to build robust, full-fledged software products, you and your team may end up wanting too many things and adding unnecessary features or functions that do not align with the actual needs of the targeted users. As a result, developers may get stuck and have no idea where or how to proceed, which makes it troublesome to manage projects in the long run.

Developers need more than a well-defined plan to avoid such an issue. Instead, they should regularly review and refine the project scope as well as requirements and devise strategies for dealing with false starts. In this way, they are able to prioritize features and functionalities on their importance and relevance to the final product. Meanwhile, they should also break down the project into manageable tasks and deal with potential problems at a micro level.

Don’t forget to stay in close communication with the team members so that everyone is well aware of what is happening and can help out when needed. Accomplish all these, and you will be able to keep the project organized and stay on track with the entire development cycle.

Hunting for Qualified Software Developers

Hunting for Qualified Software Developers

In the current IT market, software developers, particularly skilled ones, are challenging to find, hire, and retain. There are many reasons behind this, such as the shortage of qualified workers and the overhead costs of recruiting, not to mention the troubles of getting the wrong hires or the resources and effort to maintain a full-fledged team. In addition, a majority of tech companies nowadays are reluctant to employ fresh graduates due to the concern of lacking experience and necessary skills.

To overcome this challenge, companies need to be more proactive in their search for talent. They should identify the skills they need and target candidates who have those skills. They should also create an attractive job offer that includes benefits and a competitive salary. In addition, they should actively promote their company and its culture. By doing these things, companies can attract more talent and continue to grow their businesses.

Moreover, companies can also consider using recruitment agencies or online platforms that provide ready-made resumes for professionals with different qualifications and skill sets. Or they should be more flexible in talent acquisition by giving more opportunities to interns. Currently, more and more many software companies are outsourcing software development work to third-party companies, which can be a more cost-effective way to find the right talent.

Testing & Debugging

In any software development lifecycle, testing is always of vital importance. Unfortunately, many projects have difficulties dealing with this phase. Software testing and debugging usually involve identifying and fixing the errors in the code. In addition, it can sometimes be hard to determine the source of the error and how to fix it. Or developers may be too occupied with other vital tasks, being less attentive to the code review process.

With complex projects, there is always a risk for bugs and errors to occur, even after thorough testing. This can lead to frustration for both engineers and end-users. A viable solution here is to adopt a test-driven development (TDD) approach - in which tests are written before the code. Developers will focus on writing code that passes the test, hence lowering the chances of bugs and errors. It is advised to have your developers cross-check each other’s code on a regular basis to give feedback and catch issues early on. Furthermore, they should use automated debugging tools to help them ease the testing process.

Maintaining the Competitive Edge

We are proceeding further into the fast-paced and ever-changing technology landscape wherein there are too many companies that offer similar products and services. Thus, it is a must to keep your own set of USPs (Unique Selling Points) and remain relevant in order to survive and thrive.

Tech companies need to continually innovate and improve their product and service offerings from project to project to stay ahead of the curve. They should also implement a formal process for managing these changes in order to stay on track with the development process. Moreover, they need to keep an eye on the latest market trends and stay up-to-date with new technologies. Furthermore, companies should consider investing in R&D initiatives to identify opportunities for growth. By doing these things, you can continue to evolve with the market and better cater to your customers’ needs.

Unfitted Software Development Methodology

Aside from the aforementioned challenges in software development, opting for unsuitable methodologies can bring about more serious issues in the project.

Different methods (i.e., Agile, Waterfall, Scrum, etc.) are suited to different types of projects with their unique sets of requirements and demands. Hence, a software development approach can work flawlessly for one project, but there is no guarantee it will do the same for another. The key point is about the best fit for a specific project, not the other way around. Choose wisely.

For professional support and solving software development challenges, you should consult with an IT partner like Orient Software.

For almost two decades in the IT outsourcing industry and still counting, Orient Software has carved its name as the leading software development service provider in the local area as well as worldwide. At Orient Software, we have nurtured a large team of experts and tech talent with realistic experience in projects of different types and scales. Check out the case studies for typical successful ones.

We have been collaborating with hundreds of clients (startups, SMBs, and enterprises) from all around the world, so we work with an international style and culture. Our service range is noticeably comprehensive, consisting of custom software development, UI/UX design, QA testing, IT consulting, staff augmentation, and many more.

We can be either your trusted strategist or your executor of a project. We can also function as your entire dedicated team if needed (i.e., offshore development center). No matter the size or complexity of your project, Orient Software has the expertise and resources to deliver high-quality outcomes. Just tell us what your expectations are. Contact us today, and we will get back to you within only three business days.

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