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Common Risks in Software Development Projects

Find out more about risks in software development and best practices to overcome them.

Risk is something that you can experience in any area of life whether you’re a part of a product development team, medical worker, or a teacher. Risks result in conflicts. In order to prevent risks, independent and critical thinking is sometimes required.

This article is dedicated to common risks in software development. Here you’ll find the description of common risks, be able to look through their consequences and possible measures to mitigate them.

1. Lack of Documentation

It’s one of the main software project risks. If there’s no documentation prepared, you should get ready for trouble because it’s coming.

Documentation is prepared for:

● Structurization. Even after research and brainstorming some details can be missed. Moving your thoughts from mind to documentation or visualization helps you find gaps in your idea/plan.

● Synchronization between stakeholders and a team. Let’s suppose documentation is prepared. But that’s not where it finishes. To be on the same page, documentation should be shared and discussed with stakeholders and the team throughout the whole discovery phase. Doing things this way allows everyone an ability to make suggestions and get clarification on things that might be perceived or imagined differently.

● Proactive team. When team participants know what they’re doing, for who, what their goals are, etc., they can make suggestions that can decrease costs or improve user experience.

● Identification of risks before development.

● Predictions (timelines, the number of billable hours).

● Synchronization of expected result for each phase

Sometimes a client considers documentation as a waste of time if the project is small or only minor tasks have to be implemented.

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Let’s look through the consequences of the absence of documentation:

● each stakeholder and team member can have different points of views;

● everyone can expect different results;

● the ability of the development team to provide suggestions decreases;

● it’s impossible to make predictions about the timeline.

Possible measures to mitigate risks:

● Insist on making documentation, describing the benefits of documentation, and giving a minimum list of artifacts needed.

2. Change Requests During Development

When requirements are already documented and the team has already implemented them and the decision-maker wants to make changes, it often brings nothing but chaos. The team might need to stop working till new requirements are discussed and documented. These new requirements can affect other requirements or even features that are already implemented.

Consequences:

● lost time in case the team has to stop until new requirements are defined;

● additional billable hours to implement changes to ready functionality if it was affected;

● if part of the team was simultaneously working on the discovery phase for the next product stage, its timeline is shifted as well as it may be affected by changes.

Possible measures to mitigate risks:

● Implement all change requests that aren’t in the current iteration so that the team can elaborate on them before giving them to development. This approach prevents the need to stop.

3. More Than One Decision-Maker

When there is more than one decision-maker, a specialist who prepares documentation cannot approve artifacts right away. The specialist needs more time to get approval from all decision-makers.

In short, more decision-makers increase the risk of changes to requirements in the future.

Possible measures to mitigate risks:

● Warn all decision-makers about longer timelines and possible software development risks and if they understand and agree.

4. Changing Decision-Makers

It’s risky at all steps of development but the further a project is in development, the riskier it is. Let’s imagine you’re in the middle of development and documentation was already prepared several stages back. The decision-maker introduces a new person who will perform their duties. Typically this new person knows little about the project and can disrupt agreements made with the previous decision-maker.

Consequences:

● As a result, a new decision-maker can change requirements that can lead to timeline shifts and affect other features that are already completed or almost completed.

Possible measures to mitigate risks:

● It’s preferred to onboard a new decision-maker while the previous one is still with the team so that the transition is softer.

5. Decision-Maker Is Indifferent to The Product

When a decision-maker agrees with everything without providing constructive feedback or in-depth opinions/suggestions on neither the business nor technical side of things, it can lead to issues.

Consequences:

● This software development risk is dangerous in the long run. By the time the team has a demo with the decision-maker, it’s possible that they might not agree with the result and can change the whole project vision.

Possible measures to mitigate risks:

● make a decision-maker participate;

● ask open-ended questions.

6. Legacy Code

This risk in software development appears when a client asks to continue working on the system that was initially built by another organization.

Consequences:

● Implementing new features without code base research can cause a lot of bugs and break features that were working before.

Possible measures to mitigate risks:

● Code research before the implementation of new features and rewriting if needed.

7. Technical software development risks

During the discovery phase, the team not only elicits the requirements but finds technical risks. The most common examples are dependency on third-party integrations or possible hardware limitations that prevent the implementation of ideas. Having a lot of integrations with other systems makes your product dependent on the API of other systems.

Consequences:

● API can be changed blocking your access to information. This can cause bugs in a product.

Possible measures to mitigate risks:

● Create agreements with API providers.

This is not a full list of risks in software development but the most common ones. The provided measures to mitigate risks may not help in a challenging situation, many cases require elaborate preparation and unique solutions.

If you’re looking for an experienced team of software development engineers to implement your business idea, don’t hesitate to contact Computools’s specialists via email info@computools.com or by using the form below for project estimation.

Computools is a full-service software company that designs solutions to help companies meet the needs of tomorrow. Our clients represent a wide range of industries, including retail, finance, healthcare, consumer service and more.

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