Needless to say, software development is a complicated process. Never forget that every project is unique. It can also be hindered by a wide array of different challenges, all of which can limit efficiency.
Thankfully, all hope is not lost. In an attempt to overcome these challenges, there are various best practices that teams can utilize. They involve not only taking advantage of modern technology, but also leveraging the types of tools (like ephemeral test environments) needed to circumnavigate these potential issues as much as possible.
The Problem With Poor Communication
By far, the biggest issue that teams often encounter when it comes to software development has to do with a lack of communication.
Far too often, individual developers are left to work in a vacuum. While this may mean that they have more attention to focus on their day-to-day tasks, it makes it difficult for those individuals to see how their critical work is all fitting into the bigger picture.
Teams must be able to not only communicate with one another, but collaborate on a daily basis. Ephemeral environments are a big part of that. By being able to stage a feature set in a space that mimics a live production environment, developers can see how their hard work contributes to the larger project at hand.
A Lack of Goals
Another major issue that software development teams often deal with has to do with a lack of clear goals and objectives.
It doesn’t matter what type of business you’re running or even the type of end product that you’re trying to create – every developer shows up for work every day trying to do their best. But especially in an era when more people are working remotely than ever, it can be difficult for an individual to see how their efforts feed into the bigger picture.
A developer may be giving their all, working countless hours to contribute to the “greater good,” but still fail to realize just how essential their contributions are when it comes to the finished product. This can lead to an overall lack of motivation. Someone feels like so long as they do “their job,” there is nothing left to be accountable for – they’re not thinking of how they’re contributing to the hard work that the rest of their team members are doing.
With clear, actionable, and most importantly realistic goals, people begin to understand just what they are contributing to the larger project. Not only do they feel that they’ve done excellent work when they accomplish those goals, but they also take pride in what they’ve helped others achieve as well. That in and of itself is the most important hallmark of a well-functioning team in many ways.
The Issue With Deadlines
Finally, one common challenge that project managers in particular deal with when it comes to increasing efficiency in software development has to do with deadlines – or a noticeable lack thereof.
When it comes to software development as a larger concept, you essentially have two options available to you. The first is to design, develop, and execute a project as a monolith. Everything is worked on in a very sequential order and once it is done, it is ready to roll out to end users.
The issue with this is that if you’re following a very specific road map and you encounter an issue at the end of the process, it likely has to do with something that occurred very early on that you were unaware of at the time. At that point, you’ve allowed what started as a small problem to balloon out of control and impact the work of not just a single person, but of an entire team.
Instead, you could break things down into a series of smaller and more manageable chunks. Rather than looking at the whole software development process as one big task, you could separate components individually that then build upon one another.
So if you encounter a problem at Step A, that is okay – it can be addressed quickly and easily before work is completed at Step B, Step C, etc.
Not only that, but by leveraging tools like ephemeral environments, the various steps of the process can be completed in tandem with one another. Individual developers can be hard at work on their own tasks, and eventually everything will be compiled into a finished product. That way, feature branches can be tested individually and any bugs that are present can be worked out, all while maintaining the momentum you need to get the product out to end users as quickly as you possibly can.
In the end, there are a number of best practices that you can follow to help increase efficiency in the software development process. The most important of them involves allowing people to come together as the team they were meant to be.
Yes, every individual developer has important work to be done on a daily basis. But they also need to be able to see how their efforts contribute to the greater good. They need to see that the effort, the hard work, and the determination that they’re putting forth actually mean something. Not only will this allow them to be more invested in the work that they’re doing, but it will also lead to a higher quality finished product as well – which in and of itself may be the most important benefit of all.