Now, why mention the Edsel when the heading of this article is not even remotely connected? I guess it shows that even with the best intentions, products like software can be rejected by the end user out of hand. It works, but people don’t like it. It may not achieve the required results for some. The user interface might be too bulky for others.
Enterprise software development must have key components that can be altered and adjusted to fit an ever-changing market. Enterprise applications are complex systems, intertwining administration, maintenance and security into a single strand. It’s difficult to integrate numerous requirements and sub-requirements without affecting others.
I’ve listed 10 common obstacles below, with some possible solutions. Let’s crack on!
It’s a dynamic and aggressive market out there. It’s difficult to keep on track with all the advances being made in the tech world. Not only changes in technology, but also scalability demands require a company to be pro and reactive. It leads to added pressure on developers to use these new trends in a timely manner to keep ahead of the competition. Additionally, economic disruptions and conflicting business requirements take a huge toll.
It may be better to adopt a modular approach to the architecture, allowing for rapid changes, improvements and responses to new trends.
Shifting to a mobile platform
Mobility increases information sharing, and growth in this field has been phenomenal. It boosts productivity, and the requirement to add mobile support to software makes it a new challenge for devs. It is no longer an option to ignore. More and more enterprise apps require mobility, and not to use it would damage a company’s relevance.
Make sure the application is user friendly and not bloated. It should provide a great experience to the user.
Third party app integration is vital to be able to serve a wide range of clients and other enterprises. It can prove to be a real challenge if the client uses monolithic architecture, e.g. SaaS. Monolithic architecture applied to an enterprise is a typically complex system that encompasses multiple tightly integrated functions. Attempting to incorporate third party apps into what is basically a closed service is difficult to say the least. Making a small change in one function requires a complete testing of the whole.
Moving from a monolithic to a microservices architecture, which allows smaller independent applications to communicate through APIs and can be written in any programming language, will make it easier for developers to improve the service, using continuous integration and delivery.
Timelines, or deadlines, might be impossible, or merely a challenge. If a startup is offered a job with a difficult deadline, they might just take it and work the extra hours to produce the goods on time. Established software companies might ask for additional funding to pay for expected overtime, and some will laugh and walk away.
The best way to avoid an embarrassing failure to produce is to be upfront with the client or stakeholder. If the timeline looks like it will cause a problem, it must be flagged at the earliest opportunity. Rather a disgruntled client than a loss of trust.
Underestimating quality assurance
QA is there to guarantee a high quality product, or at least a product that meets all requirements. But in software development, QA people are responsible for reducing the probability of bugs during development, and work with a solution architect to deliver exactly what the customer wants. They create testing cases and scripts to ensure that everything is working as it should.
Companies that underestimate the importance of QA will find several knock on effects, none of them good for business. Think of the loss of product quality, reputation, security and customer satisfaction as part of those effects. For example, CD Projekt Red, a very successful PC games developer, launched Cyberpunk 2077 without sufficient QA, and they took a hiding from the massive gaming public, who expected it to be as awesome as their Witcher series.
Underestimating user needs
Whatever the software developers think is best, it must be secondary to user needs and requirements. After all, the users are the target audience, and it would make no sense to deliver a product that is neither wanted or appreciated. Developers not only need to understand what the client wants, but also why.
User Centered Design makes sure that the goals and needs of an end-user are the main focus, in combination with Agile software development, providing timely releases and fast responses to change requests.
Regular apps are not the same as Enterprise apps. Enterprise apps hold vast amounts of data, both business and personal. Access control and protection of this data is challenging, and each time a new tool or integration is added, security checks must be enabled. When there are multiple integrations, the whole process becomes increasingly difficult.
Make confidential information available to a few select people, have anti-malware software installed, together with encryption of data and tools to prevent hacks and malicious damage.
Allocating manpower and time to a completed project is vital to its success. Most companies have difficulty with this process, and oftentimes the development team is off doing another task immediately after delivery of a project. If a bug appears after launch, which frequently happens, time is lost trying to field a repair team, who may not be familiar with the product.
With an active service level agreement, the software company should have at least one dedicated developer assigned to monitor the application and fix any bugs that may show up after launch.
The desire to put too much into one application can create problems for the end user, with the complexity causing unnecessary downtime. It’s like asking for a word processor and receiving a complete suite. Functions of the app that are not useful to the client take up space and time in the development stage.
It is necessary to conduct customer requirement interviews regularly to make sure each function has validity and is meaningful to the client. Even after a successful launch, these interviews need to be ongoing, in order to improve service and relationships.
Not defining your target audience
There’s a saying in Marketing – ‘If you’re talking to everyone, you’re not talking to anyone.’ Broad, generic messages will be ignored or forgotten. You can’t improve your products or services, or even anticipate future ideas. Targeted advertising is out of the question, as there is no target! Without a target audience, a company will simply fade into the background and it will be impossible to stand out among competitors.
Create a customer profile, including demographics, challenges they might face, professional details and buying choices, and what they want to achieve with your product. The more specific you can be, the better for marketing and business growth.