Understanding the Misperception
I’ve built software, a lot of it. Reflecting back on the various projects, the consensus is always the same: people think that building software is easy. I’m here to tell you that its not.
Who Are These Individuals?
100% of the time, these are people that don’t have any software development experience. Whether it’s a client that you’re working with or a person that wants to become a developer one day, the message is always the same.
We’re not even going to cover what it takes to become a quality software developer. What we’re talking about here is senior developers building software. When a developer builds software for themselves, it seems to flow effortlessly. The features are released constantly and for the most part it’s bug free.
When developers create software for others, it’s not so simple.
Too Much Separation
Most people have never seen a single line of code. They’ve seen movies where two people will use the same keyboard to try and hack into “the mainframe.” Whenever software development is shown, developers seem to create it in unison in a matter of a few days (not 6+ months like is customary).
Looking at a few software development tutorials should help ground you. Reading all of the questions on Stack Overflow should also help you understand what developers do each day and how much effort it takes to create a piece of software that’s bug-limited.
Too Much Ego
You know who these people are. The founders of some startup that has no business being in tech. What they’re doing is the “most difficult thing on this planet.” Software development is nothing in comparison to what they’re doing.
Requirements gathering. I exhaled as I typed those two words. Why is it that when it comes to building software, clients believe that developers should be able to produce everything from the moment that they hear their 5 minute intro about the application?
Most clients underestimate the amount of work that they need to put in to transfer their ideas into clear requirements. This is where an experience Business Analyst comes into play. Not only do they have to provide their vision clearly, they also need to provide the content. None of this was factored in.
This is the most difficult part of the process and it’s the reason why so many projects fail or go over-budget. When you can’t specify exactly what should be on each individual page or the expected behavior of each feature, your project will likely drag out and nobody is going to have any fun.
Everyone wants something custom but nobody wants to put in the work. As a client, you need to have a chat with yourself prior to coming to a software development agency to begin work on an application.
What is this application being built for? Do you have a business and believe that this application will help your customers better connect with your employees? Is it an e-commerce business? Are you selling something specific? Or are you making a business around this application? These questions will help you understand your goals and how much work you need to put in. If you’re just trying to sell products and want to expand online, having a 100% custom e-commerce solution is probably the wrong way to go. There are plenty of out-of-the-box e-commerce platforms that are ready to go so that you can load your products and start selling.
Are you afraid that your software will look like everyone else’s? If that’s the case, you can still use out-of-the-box software and just tweak the front-end. This is my recommendation to all.
Have you done your homework on the software development agency? If you want to get out as cheaply as possible, you’re going to want to go with a software development agency that specializes in your type of application. Even better, look for a SaaS company that can get you up and running in a short span of time. The faster your application is live, the faster you can start making money from it.
What About the Code?
The code that a software developer uses is just a tool. The more experienced a developer is, the easier it will be to translate the requirements into code. Inexperienced developers will find this the most challenging aspect of creating software since they do not have the expertise in any programming language.
Once a developer starts writing code and passes about the 1–2 year mark, they start thinking that they can create anything. This is another common reason that junior developers think that creating software is easy. It takes sweat and tears to get to a senior level of uncertainty, where you’re not creating only the applications that you’re familiar with, but applications that the client wants.
Is It Really That Difficult?
It is if you don’t have experience or clear requirements as was outlined above. Make sure that you follow one or both of those. If you’re a developer, focus on obtaining experience. The more you know the easier it will be.
If you’re a client, focus on organizing your thoughts into clear and simple features. Most of the time, you’ll want to focus on CRUD (Create, Read, Update, Delete) operations. Create a Use Case for each of the actions and make sure that it defines a single action. After some practice, you’ll get the hang of it. YouTube is also your friend. Get educated on what’s required from the client side.
Software Development is hard. Get ready for a sticker shock if you think otherwise.