Author: Stuart Selip
Building, maintaining, and enhancing high quality software is not a trivial exercise, yet it is critical to software-based startups. Entering the marketplace with a feature-laden but unstable, insecure, difficult to enhance, and poorly performing product ensures a fast track to startup failure.
Producing high quality software demands the convergence of engaged, quality-focused stakeholders, results-based incentive programs, and a developer culture of quality. It also includes finding the right technology partners, making best use of productivity enhancers like appropriate software development platforms and cloud-based services, and leveraging open standards, and open source assets. Miss any one of these and your software startup may turn out a software turn-off.
Avoid Startup Software Development Risks from Day One
It remains challenging for all organizations to consistently produce high quality software that meets potential customer’s needs, on time, and in budget. For the startup the challenges are greater, and so are the stakes.
Software quality starts with governance, or establishing sound development principles, policies, and decision rights. However, governance is only the start. Making software quality happen means
- Establishing development team buy-in,
- Building and sustaining a quality-first culture,
- Managing, supporting, and rewarding quality-first behaviors,
- Testing to validate the quality of the deliverables
- Showcasing early, to ensure the deliverable’s appeal to potential customers
Unfortunately, while software development startups are often full of talent and enthusiasm, the rush to get a minimally viable product in front of prospects may find software startups honoring best software development quality practices in the breach.
Reliability, Scalability, Security, and Maintainability are Critical Developmental Issues
Software development startups want first mover advantage for their minimally viable product to engage prospects and potential investors. The startup’s challenge is to build a minimal product that will be right for evolution and enhancement. Ignoring software development quality in this early stage will result in a product too heavily burdened with software debt.
The burden of remediating an unstable, insecure, and hard to maintain software product includes the reputational costs of client disappointment and prospect inhibition, but that is just the start. Additional debt components may include
- Direct costs of software redevelopment, testing, and release distribution
- Opportunity costs of diverting the development team from new releases
- Contractual, legal, regulatory, and contingent liabilities for data loss, privacy breaches, business interruption,
Getting software quality right on a tight development budget and schedule demands sound judgment. Making the right architectural choices, selecting sound software development platforms, and picking solid technology partners will help reduce the chance of quality failure.
Software startups should ensure that security is built in from day one, and not approached as a bolt-on afterthought. Characteristics like reliability, availability, and maintainability should also be direct architectural choices based on the expected use and integrity level of the software product. When these non-functional attributes are ignored early on, any savings in development dollars is a false economy.
A better way to save startup development money and time is to use cloud-based integration to leverage existing technology partner capabilities. Software startups should not expend effort to re-invent the wheel, or money on complex in-house integration environments.
Instead, they should select partners who have developed their technology using open standards, like those published by the Object Management Group (OMG). With standards-based components and an in-the-cloud integration approach, software startups will evade the constraints of proprietary partner lock-in, be freer to change partners as necessary, and avoid investing in installed integration platforms that don’t add early stage value.
Expertise and Experience help Software Startups avoid Software Debt
Software startups and others should access the expertise and experience accumulated by the Consortium for IT Software Quality (CISQ). As a forum for IT executives, independent software vendors, and systems integrators, CISQ offers insight, direction, and community for software startups eager to get on the right track, build solid software, and avoid software debt. Don’t wonder how to get it right.Visit the CISQ today, to learn more.