10 Common Software Development Risks and How to Deal With Them

October 26, 2023

10 Common Software Development Risks and How to Deal With Them

No project is safe from risks, and that goes for software projects, too. But you know what? Risks can also be a chance to grow and get even better.

Investing in risk management doesn’t hurt. In fact, anyone in any industry that uses technology should know that a significant portion of the budget is dedicated to mitigate software development risks.

According to a report from Statista, global spending on information security has been on the rise from 2017 to 2022, going from 101.5 billion U.S. dollars in 2017 to 169 billion U.S. dollars in 2022. Most of the spending has been focused on security services, infrastructure protection, and network security equipment.

Software development risks are real, but they are also manageable.

Get ready to dive into this article, where we’ll explore common software development risks and equip you with effective solutions to tackle them head-on.

Defining Risk Management in Software Development

Risk management in software development is all about identifying, assessing, and defining response strategies for potential risks. Whether it’s a small or big, obvious or hidden threat, from inside or outside, that jeopardizes your product launch, it needs thorough analysis and effective handling.

It’s like having a game plan—you evaluate the risks, develop a response strategy, and keep an eye on things. By implementing these strategies, you can reduce the chances of negative impacts on the project’s timeline, budget, and overall quality.

Everyone on the project is responsible for spotting these threats and informing the project manager. It allows them to keep track of all the risks and ensure they are addressed promptly.

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Why is Risk Management Important?

Having a risk management plan is like having a safety net for software development projects.

Software project development is a complex endeavor that involves large teams and hefty budgets. Skipping proper risk management is like playing a high-stakes game without knowing the rules.

However, some project managers view risk management as extra work and expenses that don’t contribute to the core product development process. This mindset is incorrect and can ultimately be costly for the project.

Here’s how one adequate risk management plan can benefit your software project:

Cut expenses by preventing emergencies

By taking proactive measures to mitigate potential risks and address vulnerabilities, you can significantly reduce the costs associated with emergency response and recovery. This helps protect your financial resources and promotes a more secure and stable environment for your personal or business endeavors.

Work faster

You can empower your team to work smarter and faster with a comprehensive risk coverage in place. By having a clear process for identifying and managing risks, teams can focus on their tasks without worrying about potential roadblocks.

Get accurate project cost

Implementing an integrated risk management plan ensures that potential risks are identified and accounted for, minimizing the possibility of cost overruns. The project team can confidently plan and allocate resources by proactively addressing potential risks, resulting in a more accurate estimation of project costs.

Build a good reputation

When your software development projects are executed according to plan, quality, and within budget, it helps to build a reputation of reliability and trust. This commitment to excellence will enhance your reputation and cultivate trust and confidence among your clients and stakeholders.

Without a doubt, the significance of risk management in software development cannot be emphasized enough. It is an absolute game-changer that can make or break the success of any project.

10 Common Risks in Software Development

Now that we’ve established the importance of risk management, it is time to know the actual software project risks you could face.

Below are ten of the most common risks in software development, along with effective strategies to mitigate them:

Incorrect time estimation

Not specifying the time frame for project deliverables can be a real problem. It could lead to missed deadlines and your app not launching when it’s supposed to. That’s not good for your credibility in the industry and could result in revenue loss.

Sometimes, clients’ business analysts set broader deadlines than what the technical team had in mind. This means the company has to put in extra work or bring in more people to meet those deadlines. Ultimately, it creates a stressful work environment and compromises the quality of the product.

Before starting a new project, developers should inform customers about the potential risks related to project timing. It’s better to focus on the most important tasks rather than trying to do everything at once, even if there’s just one deadline.

How to solve this risk:

  • Discuss the project timeline with the software company
  • Include all app development phases in the timeline
  • Get weekly or monthly updates from the software team
  • Apply agile methodologies
  • Involve all team members in planning and estimating

Poor project management practices

In software development, poor project management can lead to poor risk management. Eventually, it could cause project failure.

Management risks usually occur when the team structure isn’t clear, and the work environment becomes toxic. This can result in poor productivity and efficiency issues. With struggles in productivity, teams may face delays, employee burnout, and overall lower-quality work.

Remember that many projects fail due to poor management, often due to inadequate communication and teamwork. Insufficient qualifications in project managers or team leaders can also contribute to it. Employees may leave the company, and you may face difficulties finding qualified substitutes.

How to solve this risk:

  • Hire a project manager with excellent communication and leadership skills
  • Create a clear team structure
  • Encourage open and honest communication among team members
  • Use project management tools for effective planning, tracking, and collaboration

Going over your budget

Budget risks are a major headache in any software development project. Why? It causes a domino effect on the project deliverables, timelines, and quality of work.

These are common occurrences, considering the rising demand for high-quality and user-friendly software. Budgets for programming advancements can change as project scopes change. So, it’s important to keep an eye on the finances to avoid going over the project budget.

Another thing to consider in this risk is the issue of inaccurate budget estimation. Unfortunately, sometimes things don’t go according to plan, and the project ends up costing way more than expected. There are a few reasons for this. One is that the initial budget calculation was off from the start. Another is that no funds were set aside, and the project unexpectedly grew during the process.

How to solve this risk:

  • Conduct thorough and realistic budget estimations before starting the project
  • Constantly monitor and track expenses throughout the project
  • Make sure to have a contingency plan in place in case of unexpected changes or costs

Unexpected external risks

External risks can be pretty dangerous because they’re so unpredictable. When you’re busy coding away, brace yourself in case of unexpected surprises. If this happens and it’s not easy to fix, and worst case scenario, you may need to abandon the project altogether.

External risks in software development aren’t uncommon at all, so they shouldn’t be excluded from your general risk list. You might face unexpected changes in the market, the sudden growth of a rival with more resources, new government regulations, or even changes in consumer behaviors and priorities.

All of these things can significantly impact your project and its success. It’s essential to have a contingency plan in place and constantly monitor the external environment for potential risks.

How to solve this risk:

  • Hire a business analyst in your market area to provide insights and identify risks
  • Stay informed about market changes, regulations, and consumer trends
  • Have a contingency plan in place for any unexpected events

Your code is low-quality

You can’t talk about common software development risks without mentioning the poor quality of the code. This can be quite frustrating for clients who usually don’t speak the language of code and struggle to evaluate its worth.

Code problems may include bugs, errors, and more. The culprits behind this risk are aplenty, including the lack of professionalism, ever-changing requirements, and the use of technology that’s as helpful as a pet rock.

One unfortunate outcome of these issues is that the product may not work properly due to low-quality code, numerous bugs, and insufficient testing. If not solved in a timely manner, this causes major issues in the long term, such as downtime, poor performance, and costly fixes.

How to solve this risk:

  • Conduct thorough regular code reviews and testing
  • Consider finding a virtual CTO to assess code quality and the development process
  • Establish clear guidelines in a software requirements specification (SRS) document
  • Opt for modern technology and programming languages
  • Implement the User Acceptance Criteria

Vague project scope

The scope is an integral part of a project and helps mitigate risks in software development. It determines the workload and required features. Without a well-defined scope, your software may not function correctly, leading to product failure and a poor user experience.

changing the project scope quote

Your software does not function correctly if the scope is not well-defined. If the project’s specifications are too brief, then the scope of the proposal can be vague. Vague project specs can make the scope unclear and cause essential features to be missed.

It’s always better to prevent than to cure. The project scope is always in the official project documentation. Once the project has started, changing the scope can cause delays and additional costs.

How to solve this risk:

  • Seek suggestions from developers on the best approach to achieve the defined scope
  • Use a project management tool to track and manage the scope of the project
  • Establish clear guidelines in a software requirements specification (SRS) document
  • Encourage open communication between stakeholders and developers

Getting short on developers

The software development industry is highly competitive, and developers are in high demand. Not only that, there’s also a possibility to work with a freelancer who is not able to commit full-time to the project.

This can be a major risk. The lack of developers and working with the wrong people are like a double whammy. Juggling between multiple developers on a project can also create conflicts in coding style and practices, which could lead to a bloated codebase and poor quality.

Remember, it’s not just about planning the project. It’s also about forming a dream team. A well-synchronized product development team is vital for success. Without it, you might as well be herding cats.

So, invest in the right people, communicate effectively, and watch your software flourish without the usual hiccups.

How to solve this risk:

  • Define your ideal team and draw out the necessary competencies
  • Hire a project manager to oversee the development team
  • Ensure proper onboarding and training for new developers
  • Consider hiring developers with diverse skill sets and backgrounds
  • Encourage regular communication and collaboration between team members to avoid conflicts

Inattention to security vulnerabilities

Neglecting security vulnerabilities is like leaving your front door wide open while hoping for no intruders. Unfortunately, this oversight can lead to data breaches, jeopardizing user information and tarnishing the company’s reputation.

In software development, security risks pose a significant threat to IT projects. These risks are not solely caused by the absence of innovation, counseling, or security specialist co-ops. Rather, they require a comprehensive approach that includes clearly defining security standards and effectively communicating them to software development teams.

Addressing security inadequacies in software development is crucial for IT project success. It requires a proactive approach involving continuous monitoring, testing, and updating of security measures. By integrating security practices into every stage of development and fostering a culture of security awareness, organizations can mitigate risks and build robust, secure software solutions.

How to solve this risk:

  • Conduct regular security audits and penetration testing
  • Implement secure coding practices and guidelines for developers
  • Train all employees on cybersecurity best practices and awareness
  • Schedule regular software updates and patches to address known vulnerabilities
  • Consider hiring a security specialist or outsourcing security services

Failure to test efficiently

Without thorough testing, you’re risking poor reviews and criticism on social media. Remember, the success of your software depends on how users engage with it.

The ultimate goal of software development is to create a useful product. If users encounter issues with the final product, it poses a significant risk. And end-user engagement is crucial in determining the success of a product, whether for external or internal software.

These technical risks are avoidable through proper planning, testing, and user acceptance. It’s not only about detecting bugs in the code; it’s also about ensuring that the software meets user expectations and delivers a smooth experience.

How to solve this risk:

  • Conduct user testing and gather feedback to identify and address any issues.
  • Organize focus groups to gain valuable insights and perspectives from your target audience.
  • Implement regular releases to continuously improve the software and address any bugs or performance issues.
  • Utilize beta testing to gather feedback from a wider user base and identify potential areas for improvement.
software developers at work

Partnering with the wrong software development company

Opting for the cheapest option may not always yield the desired results. It’s important to hire a reliable company with years of experience in the industry.

When working with an offshore development team, the stakes are high. Identifying their skills and expertise for your software is paramount. Failure to establish effective communication or falling into the trap of miscommunication can lead to significant delays and costly overruns.

Low expertise of development team members is a risky situation in this industry, potentially leading to unexpected financial burdens. Remember, choosing the right team goes beyond finding skilled developers. It’s about securing a collaborative partnership that ensures success from start to finish.

How to solve this risk:

  • Research other companies in the industry before hiring
  • Look for companies that meet deadlines and provide high-quality work
  • Ask for a test project to assess their skills and communication style

Let’s Build Your Software Development Project!

Internal and external risks are inevitable in the software development process, but they can be mitigated when you’re with the right software company!

The years of experience of our team at StarTechUP have allowed us to develop a streamlined process that tackles any potential risks and ensures the success of your project. With our skilled developers, thorough QA testing procedures, and effective communication, you can trust us to deliver high-quality software solutions!

So, let’s work together to bring your software vision to life and avoid those costly risks. Contact us today to discuss your project and get a quote!

About the author: Andrea Jacinto - Content Writer

A content writer with a strong SEO background, Andrea has been working with digital marketers from different fields to create optimized articles which are informative, digestible, and fun to read. Now, she's writing for StarTechUP to deliver the latest developments in tech to readers around the world. View on Linkedin