How to optimise software implementation for sustainable change?

Codurance Insights

Codurance Insights

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SM_Sustainable Change-Clusterpages-illu-1Businesses can only move as fast as quality software can be delivered. Creating sustainable change is about making efficient and safer changes. The following points all contribute to optimising software implementation for sustainable change. 

 

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Creating Sustainable Software Development 

SM_Sustainable Change-Clusterpages-illu-6What does this mean in business terms? As the pace of innovation increases within businesses around the globe, the expected lifetime of successful software applications needs to increase with this. Technology and software should be easy to change at pace in parallel with innovation. Sustainable development is about efficiency and balancing both short- and long-term needs.  

Utilising Modular & Business-aligned architecture 

SM_Sustainable Change-Clusterpages-illu–5Software modularity is the decomposition of a program into smaller programs with standardised interfaces. As businesses compete to deliver on the most critical customer values, most quickly, by creating modular architecture aligned to the business goals, the different software functions are split. This allows separate modules to be developed quickly without being locked into a complex web of other functions, allowing the teams to avoid roadblocks to enhance the speed and changeability. 

This process is about being flexible, enhancing existing software to meet the needs of the business more sustainably. As a result, businesses can work continuously on new features whilst maintaining the quality of existing software and not putting product reliability at risk. 

Without flexibility, the development pace is slower, with more bugs and testing issues. This creates older, expensive hardware and end-of-life hardware projects impacting the sustainable approach to software development. 

Agile processes (XP practises) 

SM_Sustainable Change-Clusterpages-3Extreme programming (XP) is one of the Agile frameworks, its key feature being an emphasis on technical aspects of software development. Introduced by Ken Beck et al in the 90s, the goal is to create high-quality software quickly that’s adaptable, therefore, sustainable. XP is one of the most popular software engineering methods within the Agile methodology. Some of the key practises within this method are:

#1 – Pair Programming

Pair Programming is when two (possibly more) engineers work side-by-side to develop the code together. This practice is designed to optimise quality and promote team communication. 

Read more to understand how Pair Programming works: https://www.codurance.com/publications/should-i-use-pair-programming

#2 - Coding Standards

Projects that lack a standard set of rules suffer a lack of consistency and increase the likelihood of technical debt and defects. Within any project this creates inefficiency, causing the implementation to become unsustainable. 

Understand more about why writing quality code is important: https://www.codurance.com/publications/2020/09/29/is-it-even-possible-to-deliver-software-compliant-fast-and-correctly/

#3 – Sustainable Pace

One of the key tenets of Agile Manifesto is to respect work-life balance for teams and encourage sustainable development, which enhances morale and product quality. XP reinforces this value to maximise team effectiveness.

#4 – Test-Driven Development (TDD)

XP states that unit tests must be written before code, which is a practice that many organisations are not accustomed to. However, the process of TDD requires tests to be written along with the production code in an iterative and tight loop, ensuring that changing code is continuously verified by automated tests.

Find out more about TDD:

https://www.codurance.com/publications/2018/05/26/should-we-always-use-tdd-to-design

 https://www.codurance.com/publications/2015/05/12/does-tdd-lead-to-good-design

XP offers practices that can benefit most software teams in creating a structured approach for the delivery of software. It creates a culture of efficiency and well-crafted code that is adaptable to the future. 

DevOps culture of stable & repeatable processes 

SM_Sustainable Change-Clusterpages-illu-2DevOps culture covers technical, business and cultural aspects of development. Creating: 

Higher speed and quality of product releases. The DevOps culture speeds up product release by introducing continuous delivery, encouraging faster feedback, and allowing developers to fix bugs during the early stages allowing teams to focus on the quality of the software.

Faster responsiveness to business needs. Teams can react to change requests faster, adding new and updating existing features.

Better working environment. DevOps principles lead to better communication between team members. Creating increased productivity and agility, often being considered to be more productive and cross-skilled. 

Strong emphasis on code quality 

SM_Sustainable Change-Clusterpagesillu-0 – 4Code quality is often considered an abstract element that doesn’t impact results. However, in reality, bad coding can undermine product performance, impacting efficiency negatively. A similar impact is created with cutting corners. For code to be updated parallel to innovation, the code must be correct in the first instance. 

Maintainability is one of the most frequent causes of lack of sustainability when working on code written by other individuals. To create changes and extensions, code needs to be adaptable and readable. 

As businesses grow, so does their software function, and within that, the associated code. If code isn’t created with the quality to scale, it may catastrophically fail at these pressure points damaging the business goals.  

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