Small Business Brief

Technology & Software

What’s the Risk? The 5 Biggest Risks To Digital Software

With the adoption of cloud computing on the rise among businesses and the explosion of ecommerce, it’s a golden time for software developers. Businesses want ways that they can automate or simplify processes.

Digital software provides the ideal solution for that exact problem. Routine tasks often require extreme repetition, which taxes the attention and concentration of employees. At the same time, it also limits the number of more productive tasks employee can perform while at work.

At the same time, there are many risks for software development companies before the application ever gets into the hands of customers. Let’s dive in and take a look at five of the biggest risks for software companies.

1. Scope Creep

A little bit of scope creep proves inevitable in any digital software project. Ongoing market research can uncover that you need features not in the original plan in order to compete with similar products. You should plan around this likelihood with padding in the project schedule.

The more insidious version of scope creep is the “just one more” syndrome. Someone makes a suggestion in a meeting or around the watercooler. Suddenly, it’s a requirement of the project.

Adding one more feature isn’t a problem most of the time. Adding one more feature two dozen times over the course of the projects bloats the code and renders the original timeline for deliverables meaningless.

Adding features late in the game can drive your employees into feelings of mutiny. No one likes revisiting work they thought complete months after the fact.

Those hostile feelings and short delivery timetables can also generate slipshod work. That slipshod work can have some serious consequences, such as:

  • harming the end-user experience
  • creating negative opinions about the software
  • creating bugs

You can’t always avoid scope creep, but limiting it is in your best interest.

2. Loss of Key Employees

Most businesses struggle with the problem of indispensable employees. Those are the high-performance employees who bring usually levels of mastery to the table.

The loss of such a key employee can send a software project into a tailspin. That often proves even more true if the employee works in a supervisory role or has a hand in overall software design.

It’s also a very real possibility with the current shortage of skilled IT pros and huge salary offers from competitors. In fact, the IT sector boasts one of the highest turnover rates in the US

While other employees might possess the skills to continue the work, they won’t necessarily do the work as fast or as well. This can set a project delivery schedule way back.

Replacing key employees often means a long, expensive hiring process. You must vet potential replacements and find the money for a competitive salary offer. Even then, skilled incoming employees will need months of onboarding before they get up to speed.

3. Productivity Dropoff

Unless you develop very simple applications, software development doesn’t happen overnight. Just look at the years-long development cycles for high-end video games for an example of how long finishing really complex software can take.

Even worse, a lot of programming involves tedious coding tasks. No matter how excited everyone is during the initial months, eventually people get bored with their work. Productivity will drop off once boredom sets in.

Delays in the release cycle can compound the problem by making people feel like they’ve been working for no good reason.

If one of those high-performing key employees leave, it devastates team morale. That puts a dent in productivity. The redistribution of work, as well as disruptions from bringing in a new employee, can also damage productivity.

4. Frivolous Code

Your employees can also do things that look harmless on the surface but generate negative outcomes in the long-term. Let’s say you employ a talented programmer that’s been stuck writing tedious code for a month. The programmer decides that they want to do something more interesting.

So, they take it upon themselves to show off a bit. They write a bunch of frivolous code that doesn’t service the functionality of the software. Instead, it just makes some little piece of the software do something unnecessary or just look “cool.”

The time they spend on that code is time they didn’t spend working on the larger project needs. This means the whole project takes longer.

Executing that frivolous code makes the software run a tiny bit slower. Sure, no one will notice the lag from one or two bits of frivolous code. If you get frivolous code throughout the software, though, it can create noticeable lag.

5. Exterior Risks

You face a number of exterior risks that you can exert only limited control over. For example, you can face major regulatory changes such as the GDRP protections in Europe. Privacy regulations such as HIIPA can also change depending on the priorities in Congress and HHS during any given year.

If you didn’t design the software with those regulations in mind, it can mean a major overhaul.

Whether it’s for data storage or software hosting, most businesses rely on a few major vendors for cloud computing services. That means your software must work within the parameters set out by those companies. Changes in those parameters can throw a wrench in the works.

Any cloud-based software must also work across multiple browsers and operating systems. If you’re worried about your software’s cloud readiness, you can read more here.

Parting Thoughts on Risks to Digital Software

Digital software developers must contend with a number of serious risks between launching a software project and completing it.

Looking for more information about software in the workplace? Check out our article about the benefits and pitfalls of web applications.