Common Challenges in Enterprise Software Development and How to Overcome Them.

28 February 2024 by Catalyst

Custom enterprise software solutions definitely offer more flexibility than off-the shelf products. They are, however, laborious projects that need to tick many boxes including:

  • work for many audiences and users (external and internal)
  • comply with existing IT (and other) policies
  • be secure
  • be scalable
  • not run over budget (as much as possible)
  • have access to support when you need it
  • be able to integrate with existing software and processes
  • be easy to maintain, avoiding technical debt
  • have robust data models and analytics

to name a few.

Scale, complexity and the list of unique requirements for many organisations, make custom software development projects stressful and time consuming exercises. While there will always be some factors that are not in your control, there are definitely measures you can take to reduce some of the common pains including time and budgetary over-runs as well as your team’s stress levels.

Complex software requirements of enterprises

Having to please diverse stakeholders with very different needs is never easy. Changing route part way into the project implementation can get very costly. The only way to overcome this and to develop a successful project strategy is by having good research and involving the right stakeholders (including external consultants) early on in the planning process. Don’t forget, your end users, including those external to your organisation, have to be consulted as well.

Think long! Prioritise your requirements based on the potential value add for your business in the long run. Too often, decisions are made in a rush to deal with a particular current pain, only to face more inefficiencies later on.

Dealing with common challenges of enterprise software development

Security | Scalability | Flexibility | Performance

Because your enterprise software will have to manage large volumes of data and users, be able to scale up or down, be secure and operate at optimal levels all at the same time, you must invest in secure and highly optimised cloud infrastructure that’s automated, orchestrated and is monitored 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

When it comes to security, even things like the type of programming language you choose for your project can have a major impact on the outcomes. For example, a language such as the PHP Laravel Framework is known for it’s security features. It is also known for it’s flexibility and a wide range of third party packages and resources that extend the framework’s capability to address various use cases.

Whatever programming language you choose for your project, however, you should implement strong authentication encryption mechanisms and secure coding practices. If you are outsourcing your project, ask your provider about this and whether they have this in place as a standard procedure.

Your software security, scalability and flexibility will directly affect your application’s performance over time, as well as your overall business continuity and success.

Budget $$$

If you have done your homework, consulted with key stakeholders and set priorities in line with your long term goals and ROI, you are in a good position and will achieve efficiencies in your custom enterprise software project.

Using Agile methodology, outsourcing to the experts and/or leveraging open source solutions are some of the other ways you can achieve efficiencies.

Another important consideration when it comes to budgets is the ongoing maintenance costs. A software project is never a matter of ‘set and forget’. You must budget for future maintenance and necessary upgrades.

Integrations | Adoption | Change Management

Adopt frameworks and APIs that support interoperability and explore middleware solutions that can bridge some gaps between your systems.

In addition to technical considerations, you need to think about adoption of the new technologies ‘two steps in advance’. By that we mean, involve your end users not just in planning but in design and testing phases as well; provide training and documentation, set up feedback mechanisms and promote the benefits of the changes implemented. Each department and individual in your organisation needs to understand what role they play in making this change a success and what it will help you achieve as a company.

Maintaining your custom enterprise application

When it comes to maintenance, three key pieces of advice we have are:

One, if some area of your enterprise software project is not your team’s speciality, even if you feel you “can probably do it in-house”, consider outsourcing to the experts. The cost of mistakes in complex projects is high.

Two, select a programming language / solution that has access to experienced developers and mature processes (including mature security processes).

Adopting a well known open source programming language such as Java or Python, for example, will offer the widest possible talent pool. By going for less known languages, even if they are tailored to your specific needs, you are risking narrowing your options and increasing your risks such as high maintenance costs or future language support and integration challenges.

Three, just like with the off-the shelf products, you will need to be disciplined and implement your own upgrade cycles. Your project budget must include ongoing maintenance and upgrade costs.

In Summary

Becoming aware of some of the most common pitfalls when it comes to custom enterprise level software development, is the first step to making your project a success. You can then be proactive about addressing these and implement best practice strategies early on.

To develop a scalable, secure and successful software solution takes a team of talent. Identifying your team of key contributors and supporters early on is important. Choosing a service provider that knows your industry and offers 24/7 support will help solve many technical problems and let you focus on the bigger picture of your business success.

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