Best Practices for Enterprise Software Development
Developing enterprise software can get complicated in a hurry. And unfortunately, it often turns into a bureaucratic mess.
With size comes complexity, so it’s no surprise that enterprises encounter internal bureaucracy that can stall software development projects or even run them off the rails completely.
These problems arise when creating software for internal use—especially when software development isn’t a core part of your business. And if you’re building software intended to be a new product offering that’s public-facing, the stakes and challenges can be even greater. Now it’s not just internal bureaucracy to worry about: competitors, customers, and public opinion all enter the mix.
In any enterprise software development project (including both internal enterprise applications and software developed for the market), two outcomes must be met:
- Brands must ensure their budgets and brand value stay intact
- The software being developed must generate enough ROI to justify the expense and time invested (whether through improved business processes or commercial success)
So how can enterprises ensure both of these outcomes on every enterprise-level software development project?
By following these five best practices when developing enterprise software solutions.
Each of these provides significant value, whether you’re developing enterprise solutions in-house or partnering with an enterprise software development company.
1. Focus on the Core Software Product
First—and this is an absolute must—enterprises should aim for a baseline functionality that’s built on strong, future-proof architecture. This core software product, along with core central features, is the platform on which you can build great things. But the great things aren’t going to happen without a solid foundation.
Introducing bells and whistles (and nice-to-haves and that one stakeholder’s pet feature) too early can sabotage your enterprise software engineering efforts. Or, short of complete sabotage, overload can lead to bloat, delays, and an overall unfocused piece of software that doesn’t deliver the results you (or your end users) need.
Start small with a basic but functional version of your desired software (otherwise known as a minimum viable product or MVP). Once your development team (or the dedicated team at your enterprise software development solutions partner) completes this, distribute the MVP build to a small group of alpha and beta testers. Based on their feedback, you can iterate your way forward, building out a progressively better base.
This approach gets you from zero to actual functional custom software much faster with far fewer distractions. You can (and must) continue adding features from this point, but you’ll have an easier time doing so when the foundation is solid.
2. Generate Feedback Loops
Custom enterprise software development is never simple, especially if you’re building high-quality software for the commercial market. The development process takes time, testing, and lots of feedback. So make sure to create those feedback loops early—and include the right people in those loops.
Both project stakeholders and end users should have regular opportunities to explore the software and provide feedback as development progresses. But don’t just collect this feedback: you’ll also need to develop a way to sort and interpret the feedback and make decisions about what will and won’t get incorporated.
We recommend placing a liaison between the business (stakeholders and end users) and the technical development team. This could be a technical project manager or software project manager, but whatever the title, you need a person who can understand the business needs as well as some level of the technical requirements behind those needs.
With one point of contact interpreting the feedback and preparing it for the development team (or the outside enterprise software development firm), you’ll get cleaner results with less noise or confusion.
3. Prioritize Usability
Just as it’s vital to build from a stable foundation, the enterprise software development process must prioritize usability. Technology solutions that aren’t usable don’t get used. That’s a problem for internal customized solutions, and it’s an existential crisis if you’re trying to sell the product to others.
Of course, defining “usability” isn’t all that simple.
Start with focusing on your core audiences:
- What do they need to use the tool for?
- What challenges are they facing with current solutions?
- What is their level of proficiency?
- What are their biggest pain points?
That last question is perhaps less intuitive, but it’s a big one. It’s possible to build software that checks off the first three but makes a current pain point worse (say, too many clicks or manual entry fields, or the software solution makes the overall process take longer than before).
That kind of solution doesn’t pass the usability test.
Once you understand your core audience’s biggest needs and challenges, you’ll begin creating a clearer picture of what usability should look like for a given software product.
Also, bear in mind that usability also includes UX/UI and product documentation.
Usability testing is a good strategy for ensuring the product remains user-friendly throughout the development process. When paired with feedback loops, usability testing can provide ongoing helpful feedback that keeps development on track.
4. Automate Testing
Enterprise organizations often operate in the public eye. Even in alpha and beta stages, software bugs can escalate into negative PR if they’re significant enough. Worse, this negative PR tends to concentrate among power users who hold a disproportionate amount of influence. And when a bug survives all the way to a full release, the hit to your brand image can be significant.
For this and other reasons, it’s a good idea not to leave all your testing to human users and customers.
Automated testing frameworks can perform more tests, perform them faster, and push the software harder than human testers will. It can also be done at multiple stages of the development cycle, including before you’d want humans to start forming opinions. Not only that, when it comes time to add new features to your software build, automated testing will help you work the kinks out faster, shortening your development time.
In other words, automated testing frameworks can ensure your product is up to standard and truly ready for release.
5. Partner with Technical Experts
Last, even at enterprise scale, partnering with an outside enterprise software development company tends to deliver an outsized value.
That’s because it’s common for enterprises whose primary business isn’t software to lack the internal resources needed to develop software that’s high in quality, user-friendly, and appropriately focused. Especially in the middle of a tech talent shortage and an economic downturn, staffing up to fill in these resource gaps is hard to do.
Often, new software development is relegated to internal labs and incubators that may not have the funding or the staffing levels necessary to succeed on schedule. Buy-in can be a problem as well: employees have other jobs to do, and they don’t have the time to spend testing software that’s still in development.
An enterprise software development company is an ideal solution for filling in these gaps. Enterprise software development services firms offer cost-effective development and consulting expertise that can either take the development load off your team entirely or bolster your internal teams with additional resources and expertise.
When you work with a software development firm, you gain access to experts that can guide your product vision into reality. You gain a faster, smoother deployment without the headaches of hiring and staffing or the distraction of splitting your internal team’s focus.
KMS Technology: Your Enterprise Software Development Partner
If you’re ready to explore working with an enterprise software development firm to build out better software projects faster and with fewer distractions, KMS Technology is here for you.
Whether you’re updating a legacy application or undergoing a complete digital transformation, KMS is ready to partner with you to achieve your software development goals.
We leverage decades of deep industry experience along with the latest advances in software development, including smart use of generative AI.
Ready to modernize your approach to enterprise software development? Get in touch now.