Posted by Indusa Admin on October 12, 2017 12:56 pm
Custom-built software applications are typically developed to meet the specific requirements of a group of users or a company, and can potentially address the needs of your organization over and above the capabilities of an off-the-shelf application. Many companies are seeking custom applications to solve their biggest challenges and drive growth.
Unfortunately, the entire process of creating custom applications can become a significant challenge in itself. Understanding roadblocks that can arise during the execution process is the best way to overcome them. Let’s look at five such challenges that are common to custom application development and tips on how to overcome them.
Top 5 Challenges that Impact Custom Application Development
1. Digital User Experience – Engaging Front-End, Responsive Device Agnostics
A good user experience reflects the analysis and understanding of the requirements and can be a top priority of the project. But users generally don’t know what they want until they see it. In order to have an application that is comfortable and engaging, developing a stunning user interface and intuitive user experience is key. However,
- Designing without enough information of the project or requirement is one of the most common problems among designers.
- Developing a feature-rich UI while keeping it simple is not easy; developers have to cautiously integrate complicated features with the least amount of text or visual disturbance.
- Never-ending design revisions are difficult to keep up with, and these amount to added costs, effort, and time.
The evolution of different tools and techniques makes developing a good user interface and experience easier and more satisfying. UI screens with navigation and those that suggest the different available functions are a good place to start. Speeding up the demonstration of design aspects can be achieved by allowing features to create quick, clickable demos, and collaboration through comments inside the tool itself.
2. Design – Automation, Scalability and Increased Business
As soon as the custom application design gets sealed, the next stage focuses on implementing the designs and positioning the codes appropriately.
- Integrating several different technologies, systems and applications adds substantial complexity to the project – the integrated application must conform to the external constraints of these existing systems.
- Constantly changing requirements or scope creep is widespread, often leading to a total deviation from the original requirement.
- Building continuously evolving systems, products, and applications requires developers to plan and manage improvements in integration, collaboration, and optimization across the custom application development lifecycle.
For developers who enjoy spending time adding value to projects, rather than repeating the same routine tasks over and over, the concept of automation is a clear winner. For project managers who are committed to maximizing the efforts of their technical team, as well as minimizing the risk of projects failing to deliver on time and meeting quality standards, encouraging team members to invest necessary time and effort in automation is the way forward.
3. QA Testing – Rich User Experience, Dedicated Testing, and Quality
Testing is usually the toughest aspect of the custom application development process, and is done to make sure that the application meets the specifications. The testing stage is rather challenging:
- Performance bottlenecks become more rampant as custom applications become more mature, and more complex – more lines of code result in greater performance issues.
- Late detection of defects adds to the overall testing costs, and are substantially difficult to fix later in the development cycle.
- Wrong or changing test coverage becomes a frequent challenge with changes in code, continuous integration, or changing requirements.
- Keeping test cases as current as possible requires testers to have a good understanding of how scripts interact with the application under test in order to quickly identify issues, correct them, and re-validate the test.
Automation in the testing process has brought in a great deal of innovation, helping teams develop skills and saving time while performing repetitive tasks in addition to shorter testing cycles and reduced time to market. Automation software like Jenkins can be used to automate the testing processes and deliver new features in quick succession to minimize the presence of bugs introduced due to human error.
4. Delivering Bug-Free Applications on Aggressive Project Timelines
Developers are expected to keep coming out with new features and changes to custom applications in order to keep end users engaged. However, with the traditional development methodology this becomes difficult because of long cycles.
- Although no application is free from bugs, each stage of the custom application development process introduces a different kind of bug which needs to be identified and rectified in time.
- Meeting stringent custom application deadlines while ensuring minimum bugs and optimum product functionality is often challenging.
What comes to the rescue is the agile methodology of application development and the concept of DevOps which support these issues. Methodologies like SCRUM aid in understanding the real essence of agile development and help in the achievement of business goals better and quicker. With the help of DevOps implementation, the typical sprints get more efficient as they help the team to focus on adding real value, while letting tools handle the normal routine tasks through the automation of many of the development processes.
5. Custom Application Management and Maintenance
Developing a good custom application is just the beginning, as regular upgrading and maintenance of the application is far more critical.
- Making sure code and documentation are in sync is not easy, as several blocks of functional code are written which are then integrated to work in unison – deviating from the original pre-defined specifications document.
- Maintaining architecture according to constantly changing needs leads to several changes in the overall laid out architecture of the application which must be regularly updated and maintained as per the current requirements.
- Although enabling custom applications for mobile in addition to web is inevitable, developing solutions for different operating systems, screen sizes, and touch inputs is a major effort.
For project managers looking to enhance stability, minimize downtime, and respond quicker to the needs of the business, improving the efficiency of the maintenance process is critical. Leveraging use cases can provide a logical and structured way to organize the functional requirements of a custom application development project, with each use case offering a description of a scenario under which the user of an application interacts with that application.
Enhancing the Custom Application Development Process
Seizing the right opportunities at the right time rather than waiting for long development cycles to show changes to end users is the ideal way to manage your custom applications. Custom application developers can achieve this by using an environment ready with the most recent changes for testing/deployment.
This can increase the efficiency of the development team as they can focus on application development and testing rather than handling deployment and finding missing links. If organizations are clear about what they’re trying to build, they are sure to achieve the results they’re looking for.
About the Author – Brijmohan Bhavsar
Brijmohan Bhavsar is the Senior Project Manager(.Net) at INDUSA. He is an Application Developer himself, and Project Leader in a wide variety of business applications.
Contributing Author: Malavika Nityanandam