Software development encompasses the process of designing, creating, deploying and supporting software. Due to the complexities involved, the software development cycle contains several uncertainties that depend on the specific project activities. These uncertainties give room for potential problems, known as risks. 

There are two main types of risks: communication and technical risks. Communication risks include scheduling difficulties, disagreement on objectives, setting unrealistic deadlines, and more. Conversely, technical risks refer to performance-related challenges associated with the software development process. Examples include making technical misjudgments or difficulty navigating a new technology. 

Adopting risk mitigation techniques is paramount to avoid bottlenecks and ensure software development projects are effectively completed on time and within budget. Risk mitigation strategies reduce the likelihood of software development failure. And in this post, we explore some of the essential risk mitigation techniques for software development. 

Start with a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

One common mistake software developers make is trying to build the complete product from the get-go. This approach is unwise because the sheer complexity leaves room for several development risks. One way to minimize these risks is to reduce complexity by starting with an MVP. 

An MVP is a product that contains enough features to attract early adopters, aiding in validating a product idea in the early stages of the product development cycle. MVPs are great because they can be completed on time and within a minimum. But more importantly, they help you test your business concepts, drastically reducing the risk of project failure. Moreover, they help identify early technical risks and how they can be addressed. With an MVP, you can have ideas of software development areas that need to be tweaked to achieve optimal outcomes. 

When agreeing on an MVP, you must reach a consensus with all stakeholders impacted, so everyone is on the same page. 

Adopt Agile development

Agile software development is a relatively new concept involving an iterative approach to software development and project management, helping teams to deliver faster and with fewer problems. 

When following an Agile approach, you break down the development process into bite-sized chunks, allowing for flexibility when faced with unforeseeable risks. This approach identifies and completes the critical and less risky part of the project. More dangerous components are analyzed separately. This decoupling of the product helps to manage risks adequately. 

What’s more, Agile methodology makes it super easy to react quickly to new changes in the industry as the software developer can easily add new features and functionalities after properly assessing their inherent risks. 

Deal with technical risks early

As humans, we tend to push tackling complex problems into the future. When those problems are technical risks, they can be costly. Technical risks can make or break the software development process. Why? If a critical technology plays a crucial role in delivering software, failure to successfully incorporate this new technology means the software development project will fail. 

That’s why you must ensure that critical technologies that play a role in your software project are fully understood. You must analyze these technologies to understand key risks and how they can be resolved. Understanding the inherent vulnerabilities and strengths will help create a robust software project. On the flip side, ignoring technical risks will result in bottlenecks that may delay or even hamper the successful completion of a software project. 

Ensure frequent communication

One common cause of project failure is a lack of communication. For example, failing to communicate effectively at the start of the software development process may result in an error in scope definition or overlapping assignments among software developers. Such mistakes can significantly prevent meeting deadlines and add to project development costs. 

Open communication ensures that software requirements are well-understood throughout the project development cycle. Whenever there’s an update, you must inform all impacted stakeholders. 

Moreover, team members must share honest feedback and set realistic expectations regarding scope, budgetary concerns, and timeline. Whenever everyone is on the same page throughout the development cycle, communication risks are reduced to the barest minimum. 

Engage users in the development process

Every software is for an eventual end-user. That’s why continuously interacting with users during the product development cycle is crucial. Doing so allows developers to receive real-time feedback that can help guide optimal product design. This can help create the best workflow and prioritizing features. 

By taking this approach, you can use user feedback to make new iterations better than previous ones, ensuring that the final project maximally benefits its intended audience. 

Test, test, test

Lots of things can go wrong in software development – ranging from test cases you haven’t considered to the ever-lurking edge cases. That’s why you must actively test your software, even to break it. Adequate testing helps identify loopholes to be immediately fixed when they are the least expensive. 

You should test rigorously at every iteration, so you do not carry over dangerous bugs to new iterations. Thankfully, you can follow several testing methodologies for robust software development. 

Conduct background checks

One overlooked component of software development is incorporating background checks into the process. A background check helps ensure that people working on the project have the qualifications and expertise they claim to have. A police check helps confirm the integrity of those people, and based on their criminal record; you can determine if they’re suitable to work on specific kinds of software. Moreover, background check helps determine the integrity of third parties before bringing them into a software development project. 

Maintain knowledge and expertise with support agreements

Many times, the software development process involves collaboration with outsourcing agencies. These agencies typically work on the highly technical parts of the project, where they have robust expert knowledge. When they return the piece of their work, the work doesn’t end for the software developer. Maintaining ongoing support and enhancement agreements is crucial to allow for updates, upgrades, and adaptability to changes in the market. A support agreement with involved third parties ensures that you never have to lose sleep wondering if you can adapt to changes down the line. 

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