It has never been more important to build applications quickly. Covid accelerated digital transformation for many businesses. To keep up, businesses need digital solutions.

Unfortunately, application development can turn into an excruciatingly long process. And the longer it takes to build apps, the more expensive they get. Worse, you could end up missing opportunities or making an application that’s no longer relevant.

All of these increase the risk to your business, damage customer relationships, and burn your resources.

Instead, you must speed up the software development process to meet your business's and the market's constantly changing needs.

To help get your team on track, we’ll point out what slows down software development and how you can radically speed it up.

What Slows Down Software Development

Software development is a complex process where many things can go wrong, slowing down the process. Identifying these slowdowns will help you adjust to create business applications faster.

Scope Creep

In software development, change is inevitable.

Project requirements change often. Markets shift, causing new demands. Teams ask for additional functionalities. Users can stack on additional requests.

This can all happen without warning.

Scope creep occurs when there is no systematic procedure for dealing with changing requirements after your team starts a project. If your team doesn’t manage it properly, it can cause issues such as budgeting and delivery delays.

In fact, a PMI survey noted that half of all projects suffer from scope creep. Only 57% get completed within the allocated budget. And only 51% get completed on time.

Human Factors

Humans are complex entities. They do not work like machines.

Factors such as competing priorities, distractions, long working hours, and personality clashes can slow the development process and delay delivery.

Looking into these factors and acquiring highly skilled and enthusiastic engineers can relieve you of uncertainties regarding timely delivery.

Code Quality

Writing high-quality code requires time. You have two options: develop fast or develop well. Either way, you’re working within a deadline.

Compromising the quality of code to develop it faster won’t help. If you do so, problems will likely occur later in the stage, eventually costing you more time, effort, and money.

Tools like low-code (which we will discuss later) can help you get both: high-quality code quickly.

Competing Priorities

Everything in a project may seem important and has a high priority.

However, deciding which tasks to prioritize is vital for the success of your project, team involvement, and your role as a good manager. Plus, it'll save you time and resources.

To manage priorities, you must clearly define goals and objectives and have a two-way communication channel with team members during the project lifecycle.

Workplace Culture

Workplace culture affects the way employees work. As per the Global Culture Research Report by SHRM, about 45% of employees have considered resigning due to poor work culture.

It’s very common in the IT space.

A positive workplace motivates employees to achieve goals efficiently and complete projects on time. In contrast, a negative workplace with poor leadership, community engagement, and communication can cause employee burnout, delays, and loss of resources.

Development Team

Only great development teams can build great software.

The dev team’s performance is one of the primary elements affecting the project's direction. Factors that could negatively affect team performance include lack of communication, mutual support, common goals, coordination, cohesion, trust, and diversity.

The manager’s task is to deal with these aspects and lead the team toward timely software delivery. You can do this by setting up clearly defined processes, implementing effective project management, and upskilling your team.

18 Ways to Speed Up Software Development

To stay competitive, businesses need digital solutions. And they need them fast. As such, demand for development will only increase. To match that demand, you need speed.

Here’s how you get it.

1. Start with the Data

The quality of the software development depends on the quality of the data. You can only improve what you can measure.

Data-Driven Decision-making (DDDM) requires you to collect data, analyze it, and convert it into relevant metrics. Afterward, you need to base your decisions on these insights.

Setting goals and introducing solutions based on the metrics will speed up the development process and decrease time spent on repetitive tasks.

The benefits of DDDM include:

  • A more agile process
  • Improved task prioritization
  • Improved efficiency and performance
  • Reduced risks, delays, and costs

2. Plan Thoroughly

You cannot ignore the significance of a detailed project plan.

A systematic plan for software development entails smooth working of the team since they clearly understand the goals and deliverables.

A thorough project plan boosts success rates, saves money, optimizes resources, enhances team communication, allows easy tracking of progress, and ensures on-time delivery.

3. Establish a Clear Roadmap

Once the plan is in place, the next step is to devise a project roadmap by consulting with the team.

A project roadmap visually represents goals, milestones, deliverables, assigned resources, and schedules. It provides an overview of the project without going into the minute details.

This roadmap serves as a reminder of the overall vision and goals of the project. It also helps convey information visually to the stakeholders and investors. In addition, it allows them to understand better the strategic milestones achieved and track progress.

If the entire team is aware of the roadmap, there will be fewer roadblocks that slow down software development.

4. Use Smaller Teams

An efficient way to meet deadlines is to divide a large team into smaller groups.

Doing so will enhance information sharing and collaboration among members, resulting in faster completion of work. Using smaller teams leads to faster iteration and more innovation, providing a competitive advantage to companies.

Studies show that small teams make decisions quickly, have few communication issues, and demonstrate higher productivity. Large teams develop, while small teams disrupt.

5. Prioritize Tasks and Reduce Work in Progress

With goals and objectives clearly defined, it is much easier to prioritize tasks and limit the number of simultaneous tasks performed by the developers.

Multitasking is a myth. The reality is that too many ongoing tasks will overwhelm the developers and decrease their productivity.

A great way to avoid assigning several tasks to a developer is using the Kanban Board. It is a tool that teams can use to visualize tasks, optimize WIP (work-in-progress), and achieve high productivity.

The core elements of a Kanban Board are cards and columns.

Each card holds data about the task. Each column represents the stage the work has reached. For instance, the stages can be Waiting, In-Progress, and Completed.

The cards move from one column to the next where a task has reached. Focusing only on the ‘in-progress’ tasks will make developers less distracted and work faster.

6. Outsource Development

Another way to speed up development is outsourcing development to external teams. Having an in-house IT team might be tempting since it allows full development process control.

But it has its downsides too.

For huge enterprises, the number of ongoing projects is also large. While for smaller companies, there is the problem of funding the IT staff. In any case, it's expensive to recruit and maintain an IT team large enough to satisfy the growing needs of your business.

Instead, outsourcing development can provide you with several benefits as follows:

  • Savings in time and expenditure
  • Faster time-to-market
  • Scaling the Business
  • Access to the best professionals and technology advancements
  • Focus on core strategies
  • Higher flexibility
  • Broader perspectives

7. Eliminate Unnecessary Meetings

"If you had to identify in one word the reason why the human race has not achieved and never will achieve its full potential, that word would be 'meetings.” – Dave Barry.

Nobody loves meetings.

Meetings are unnecessary. They hinder development by killing quality and productivity. Moreover, excessive meetings demoralize team members by wasting their valuable time.

In fact, 83% of executives believed meetings are unproductive. US professionals agree they are the “number one office productivity killer.”

There are better alternatives to meetings that you can use, such as emails, project management tools, brainstorming sessions, short explainer videos, and organic gatherings.

8. Communicate Expectations Regularly and Clearly

Effective communication is key to the success of any project. As a manager, you can save time by clearly communicating expectations to your team members.

In case you don’t, you risk misinterpretations, delays, and low individual engagement. It'll give you a headache to explain the goals at a later stage, and the speed of development will suffer anyway.

A Gallup study found that one of the primary reasons for the dip in employee engagement (only 34% felt engaged) from early 2021 to 2022 was the lack of clarity of expectations and responsibilities.

Clear expectations are highly beneficial since they eliminate uncertainties, give employees confidence and freedom, make work less stressful, increase involvement, and improve overall communication.

9. Document Development in Detail

Documenting every project from the onset is a surefire way to ensure a smooth and efficient development process.

Poor documentation wastes 64% of your team’s time. They’re more likely to misunderstand needs, forcing them to rewrite existing code later. Even worse, it reduces your time and budget for developing new features.

On the other hand, good documentation will help you manage the project efficiently, keep track of its progress, and enable easy onboarding of new members.

Thorough documentation facilitates a clear understanding of requirements and effective communication among team members and stakeholders.

10. Test Early and Often

Today, testing is no longer a process carried out at the end. Not only will you risk detecting blunders (not errors) at a later stage, costing you a fortune, but it will also increase your time-to-market.

You must perform software testing along with the development to speed up the QA process. This will allow you to build quality software in less time.

One of the ways you can do this is by automating the testing. Automated testing tools allow you to run tests with automatic regression without doing repetitive tasks manually. It'll save you time which you can use to build new features.

11. Don’t Cut Corners on Quality

Although cutting corners on quality to speed up software development may be tempting, this practice will cost you dearly, as you’ll spend time rewriting code and solving errors.

You must use software quality assurance (SQA) throughout the project lifecycle to detect errors early on and save time and money.

SQA offers the following benefits:

  • Client satisfaction
  • Secure product
  • Maintains developer and client reputation
  • Provides a competitive advantage

12. Implement CI/CD Pipelines

Continuous Integration (CI) is an approach where every team member instantly uploads the changes made to the code several times a day to a shared repository everyone can access.

Each time your team uploads the changes, automatic build and integration occur. This allows early error detection in the pipeline.

Continuous Delivery (CD) is a practice that allows developers to build code in short iterations and release the software more frequently and in less time.

Contrary to the common belief that frequent releases compromise on quality, CD combined with automated testing can deliver quality services faster.

The CI/CD pipeline strategy of software development has several benefits:

  • Reduced time to market
  • Automated and low-risk releases
  • Better quality
  • Savings on cost
  • Happier and more productive teams

13. Avoid Burnout

Burnout among employees has been one of the biggest causes of turnover since the pandemic and has resulted in the Great Resignation phenomenon.

As per the State of the Global Workplace: 2022 Report by Gallup, a whopping 60% of employees feel disengaged and burnt out at work due to long working hours. Decades of studies have shown that working more than 45 hours a week decreases productivity.

Due to extensive workloads, employees have become increasingly difficult to manage a work-life balance.

As a manager, you must allow your team members to work fewer hours. Create an environment of well-being and promote engagement and shared accountability.

Automating menial tasks and improving workflows is key. The less time your team wastes, the more time they have to complete work within manageable hours.

You can also use citizen developers to take the extra work pressure off of your IT team. (More on this later.)

14. Use Agile Methodologies

The agile approach encompasses flexible methods and practical strategies to build the software faster. An agile method requires quick iterations, which involve releasing parts of the software quickly and in short durations.

Change management also becomes easier due to shorter iterations. Since the stakeholders remain involved in every phase, delays accompanied by changes reduce considerably.

Some of the benefits of the agile approach are:

  • More collaboration and stakeholder engagement
  • High-quality product
  • Better change and risk management
  • Faster return on investments

15. Avoid Technical Debt

Technical debt is the negative outcome of choosing a suboptimal coding approach that prioritizes time over quality. In the long term, poor code will be a reason for more complex issues and delays in delivery.

Only use suboptimal code when necessary. And never forget to refactor it as per the original plan. Measure technical debt in the number of errors and failed CI and CD.

Other ways to prevent or reduce technical debt are: creating a plan to reduce debts, using standardized codes, automating testing, trusting the personnel, and using issue trackers and management tools.

Managing technical debt can get expensive, so you want to be mindful of this.

16. Automate Processes

While it may not be possible to automate the entire software development process, you can use several automation tools to streamline the process and develop the product faster.

Use those tools to automate as many processes as possible.

For example, use shared repositories for automated delivery, automated testing tools, communication tools, project management tools, etc.

17. Use Low Code

Unlike traditional coding, a low-code approach empowers users to build applications faster. Users need minimal coding knowledge. Instead, they can drag and drop prefabricated snippets of code together to create high-quality applications quickly.

Low-code applications like QuickBase use visual interfaces to make application development easier. As a result, developers can use these tools to scale their output.

All without sacrificing quality.

Because these tools scale outputs, it’s possible for smaller IT teams to compete with enterprise-level organizations without expanding their teams.

18. Use Citizen Developers

Citizen developers are business users (full-time employees) who, while tech-savvy, aren’t necessarily software developers. Instead, they’re FTEs trained on low-code tools. As a result, they can use these tools to build simple integrations, automation, and applications.

This allows businesses to delegate low-level software development. Ultimately, this frees up developer bandwidth to focus on high-priority tasks.

The key to success is having proper frameworks and governance for your citizen developers. Done properly, your team can leverage citizen developers to build applications faster using low-code or no-code tools.

And with labor costs rising, customer demands increasing exponentially, and the developer shortage continuing for some time, citizen developers offer a simple solution.

As a business leader, you can use citizen developers to satisfy increasing application demands with a low budget and faster delivery time.

Accelerate Your Development Process with Quandary

Speeding up the development process is key to succeeding in today’s competitive business market. Scaling operations, reducing costs, increasing your team’s efficiency, improving customer satisfaction, and staying competitive—all achievable with technical solutions.

Unfortunately, businesses struggle to keep up.

Traditional application development is expensive and time-consuming. In the end, you burn through resources and miss opportunities.

While there are several things you can do to speed up the process, to make truly measurable gains, you need low-code tools and citizen developers.

At Quandary Consulting Group, we’re a team of low-code specialists helping businesses get the most out of their citizen development initiatives.

Whether you need help building low-code applications or you want to deploy and govern a citizen development program, we’re here to help you.

Get in touch with us to learn more.

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