Research and development and innovation play a very important role in the field of software development. This is especially true in the case of developing custom solutions for businesses. Business customers are looking for applications that perform (securely) at a high-level, but they are also concerned with time and costs associated with a custom system. Because of this, developers need to determine the best processes to create solutions for companies that will fulfill their needs but also stay within their budget and timeline.
Let’s take a look at two major business software development processes that will be important for companies in 2015.
A Hybrid Approach to Agile Software Development
In simplest terms, agile development is an iterative approach to software development. In order to develop something tangible more quickly for customers or end users, developers will create an initial prototype that is submitted for initial testing and feedback. Alterations to the software system are made based on the feedback, and the process continues until the proper software solution is developed. This type of process may be helpful if a company does not have a very clear vision of the solution it wants at the beginning, and it may take some them seeing something in front of them to get a better idea.
Different from agile development is the traditional or “waterfall” method of software development. In this method, a customer is presented with a fully-functioning system before any initial testing occurs. Before any programming of the solution takes places, business analysts and developers will gather as much information possible about the business’s needs and requirements for a system in order to best possible develop a system.
While both of these methods have their pros and cons, the best solution—especially when developing software systems for business—is to take a hybrid approach. A hybrid approach combines the best of both methods, developing more complex parts of a system using the waterfall approach while using the agile development method for other pieces where there is a less likely chance of major changes being needed. The hybrid approach works better for businesses, because it provides them with more cost and time certainty that is difficult to provide with a strictly agile approach.
For a more detailed look into this topic, be sure to check out our blog post and podcast episode where JP Lessard, President of Business Software Solutions at Miles Technologies, discusses the pros and cons of agile development and the value of the hybrid approach.
Developing Software with a Focus on Security
Information security is going to be near the top of the list of concerns for businesses in 2015. With the Sony Pictures hack and vulnerabilities like CryptoWall 2.0 fresh in the minds of companies and consumers, businesses—especially those in industries like the healthcare and finance that deal with sensitive data—need to ensure that their customer data is being protected.
When designing secure software systems for businesses, it is important for developers or development companies to create a set of security standards that sets the guidelines they follow in developing systems. These standards can be shared with clients to help assure them that an emphasis is being placed on security in the design of their system. It is important here for developers to focus on research and development to ensure that security standards evolve to keep pace with changes in technology.
The biggest challenge when designing secure software is trying not to sacrifice any of the functionality of the system. People want to be able to access data quickly and use the system easily without having to jump through too many hoops to complete their daily business processes and tasks. A secure practice like not including an ID in a URL may not have too much of an effect on users, but another one such as storing cryptographic hashes of passwords instead of passwords themselves may cause an issue as passwords cannot be recovered. For designing secure systems, it is all about finding that balance between security and usability.
For more examples of secure software design practices, be sure to check out our blog post where Wayne Rossi, Systems Architect at Miles Technologies, discusses the importance of security standards and practices.
What other software development processes do you and anticipate having a big impact in 2015 and beyond? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
Have any questions about these development processes and what they could do for your business? Contact us today to speak with a custom software expert.