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How to speed up software development - top 9 best practices

How to speed up software development - top 9 best practices

Thu, Aug 25, 20228 min read

Category: Business-stories

In cutting-edge software development, time is of the essence - the sooner you can showcase your MVP to the world, the better. Development teams are used to deadlines and tight schedules as organizations are pressured to reduce time-to-market and maintain their market share. Unless you have a significant market dominance like Microsoft or Apple, you need to move faster than your competitors. 

Unfortunately, there is a price to pay for overwhelming task loads. Regular burnouts and high turnover rates have become a norm for many software development companies, but this isn't the way to go. 

In this article, we're sharing a few tips on how to speed up software development and optimize the overall workflow in a tech company. These simple changes can make a massive difference for your team.

Table of contents:

What does software development speed depend on?

How to accelerate the software development process without annoying your dev team

  1. Create a roadmap and stick to it

  2. Set your KPIs

  3. Minimize scope creep

  4. Limit your work in progress

  5. Divide the project into smaller components

  6. Avoid frequent alterations and implement change management

  7. Eliminate technical debt

  8. Use automation

  9. Expand your team

Wrap up

What does software development speed depend on?

Estimating the speed of software development is tricky. But there's one certainty: the process can slow down due to many factors. One of them is the complexity of the project's technical side, where every developer has to deal with various challenges during the work with complex software architecture, third-party integrations, innovation, and so on.

Another important factor relates to unclear goals and objectives or unreasonable deadlines (for example, when the estimated time for work completion doesn't match the actual scope). Structural mismatches and problems within a company may also slow down software production.

Writing quality code is a time-consuming process. Developers can do it well or fast, but not both. Although deadlines are not going away, cutting corners will only cause issues, in the long run, creating the so-called technical debt. Fixing these errors is difficult and expensive.

Another common issue that slows software development projects down is mismatched team size. The success of a project depends on the efficiency of internal communication. According to Scrum Guide, finding common ground becomes challenging if there are more than nine people in the team. The optimal team size for most productive cooperation is up to five people. Larger projects can be divided into smaller groups based on project components that each group works on.

The performance of all members depends on the level of commitment, experience, and skills. When everyone is motivated to succeed and has the skills to complete their tasks, the job will be done faster. Although less-skilled workers may eventually become an important asset to the organization, they will need time to develop their expertise before they can immediately impact the project.

Now that you know which factors impact software development speed, let's take a look at what you can do to make your next project blazing fast (and successful).

How to accelerate the software development process without annoying your dev team

1. Create a roadmap and stick to it

To speed up the development process, your team needs to understand the project requirements thoroughly. If everyone knows what to do, you're bound to save a lot of time.

The next step is to meet with the development team and create a project roadmap. This includes choosing the language or framework to lead your technology stack, dividing the project into several parts, and assigning the right team members for each component.

2. Set your KPIs

Another key task is to set realistic and measurable Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for your team. It's not uncommon for developers to work on large projects that have strict deadlines. If a project manager decides to monitor the amount of code written by developers to measure their productivity, prepare for trouble.

For example, if a developer writes 1000 lines of code in 12 hours and this code doesn't execute more than a few real operations, productivity is almost nonexistent.

However, you can monitor speed by measuring performance metrics such as: velocity (value of work completed within a period), cycle time (the time it takes to finish a task), and work in progress (a measure of pending within a period).

3. Minimize scope creep

Minimizing scope creep is an effective way to speed up the development process. To do this, break all solutions into smaller phases that allow the more critical elements to be addressed first and the long-term requirements to wait for development. Incremental solutions satisfy stakeholders as quickly as possible without alienating any group.

4. Limit your work in progress

Some team members can combine multiple tasks, but others might not be that efficient when juggling numerous work items. If you don't adequately monitor your team's workload, the number of unfinished tasks will increase, and productivity will drop.

A simple way to reduce your work in progress is to use a Kanban board, which limits the total number of tasks per column that marks the stage in the process (for example, To do, In Review, Done). This way, your team will clear pending jobs quickly.

5. Divide the project into smaller components

Planning is important when it comes to building software. A large team of developers can take longer to complete a project than a small team with competent developers. Still, if you need a large team, break them into smaller units and entrust each one with different areas of the project. This will ensure that every unit stays on track and integrates its work at appropriate times. It's still crucial to meet up regularly and update each other on the progress of every team.

Consider assigning the most experienced developers to the most complex parts of the project and less experienced ones to simpler tasks to increase efficiency and reduce the overall turnaround time. This will also ensure that everyone on the team can utilize their skills more effectively.

Have your dependencies clear here - some tasks may need to be completed before others can be started. Make sure high-priority tasks are completed before starting with other low-priority ones.

6. Avoid frequent alterations and implement change management

Every software project involves three factors: scope, resources, and time. Changing any of these elements will affect the other two. Increase the scope without increasing resources or time, and the development process will slow down. Limit resources without decreasing the scope or time, and you'll get the same effect. Effectively manage all three factors, to minimize the risk of your product taking longer than expected to complete.

A large project may require multiple alterations as the work progresses. But too many changes during the development process can significantly affect the project completion time. Sometimes, you may think a small change will have little impact on your work, but it can become a huge mess and cripple the whole system.

It's impossible to avoid changes as the work progresses. Documenting all modules, scenarios, and factors before starting the project will reduce the number of changes and accelerate the development process.

Conducting a Discovery Workshop before taking off with the project will likely reduce the number of changes required when in progress. Learn more about the value of the Discovery Workshop in our report.

7. Eliminate technical debt

Time is a critical factor in the software development process, and engineers sometimes must choose between an ideal solution and a quicker one to meet deadlines. Technical debt - the result of cutting corners - can slow down future work by causing developers to spend extra time correcting errors and flaws. This happens when companies make strategic sacrifices to save time but later realize that doing so causes more problems than it solves. The best approach is not to compromise code quality unless there is no alternative. And if you do so, make sure you correct those issues as soon as possible.

8. Use automation

While it is impossible to automate all processes in software development, you can still streamline some parts of the process. You can accelerate the testing phase by automating tests, thus reducing the time spent on development.

Continuous integration allows developers to automatically merge their changes into a central repository, increasing their productivity. Another way to facilitate communication among team members is by using an automation tool for task management and workflow discussions among team members.

9. Expand your team

Project complexities and deadlines must align with available human resources. It can be challenging to meet a deadline for some projects when you have a small team at your disposal. The solution is to hire more developers for the project, but the recruitment process takes time and costs a lot of money (we’ve written more about it here), especially if you're hiring experienced developers. This is why outsourcing makes sense. Software development is a specialized activity that requires skilled human resources, tools, and infrastructure. When you outsource software development work, you can attain high-quality work while focusing on other aspects of your business growth.

Wrap up

In today's competitive digital products market, speed is a deciding factor in attracting customers. However, managing development speed is a complex process with no shortcut. We showed you the most effective ways to speed up the software development process that are based on proven industry best practices. Sometimes, your best option is to hire a few more developers to take your project off the ground. Get in touch with us if you're looking for talented experts available to become part of your team on a short- or long-term basis.

Sylwia Bień-Chudarek
Sylwia Bień-Chudarek

Head of Growth | Blockchain Enthusiast

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