Jan 15, 2020 | 3 min read

Stability as a Core Concept in Software Development

By: Caitlin Whitworth

Stability as a Core Concept in Software Development

Many of us have experienced long-standing issues with a particular product component (ugh! that one checkout cart feature) or the product as a whole. If the product is customer-facing, this can have serious ramifications for your customers, company reputation, and profit margins. If the product is internal facing, it can impact workflows and employee efficiency.

Delivering a stable product and reliable user experience goes hand in hand with the overall success of your software, and ultimately, your business. Unfortunately, software stability is a frequent question in today’s world of startups, legacy code, and technical debt. In this article, we discuss proactive steps you can take to increase the overall health of products and mitigate potential risks associated with instability.

Using Code Assessments to Find Software Instability

Companies can utilize code assessments to provide insights into the stability of their products. They give the codebase an overall score and surface areas for improvement. Assessments also help prioritize items to address if several issues are highlighted.

If you find that your product is relatively unstable, it’s important to understand how it arrived at its current state. Some reasons that can lead a product down this road include:

  • Reactive development in a rapid growth environment
  • Lack of future-focused architecture decisions early and consistently throughout the life of the product
  • Lack of product ownership
  • Outdated and cumbersome technology

Understanding the cause of an unstable product will help determine the best option to address the behavior moving forward.

Code Refactoring for a More Stable Product

What options do you have if you find your product in this situation? Refactor. Refactor often. In some cases, you may need to refactor the entire project, which could mean transferring technology from one stack to another or converting an old codebase to something new. When this suggestion is made, there is likely a gap in the current stack or codebase that can leave the product and company vulnerable. Transitions of this nature allow for more features (potentially faster), better security, better processes, and, ultimately, more stability.

Alternatively, teams can take incremental steps and refactor as they go. There are a few ways to move forward under this approach. A team can determine one feature or item to address at a time and focus efforts on bringing the code or technology up to standards. A team can also do this as they are coding in a “do what you can” approach to focus on improving the readability of the codebase. Both of these options will help move the needle towards a more stable and secure product.

Long-Term Benefits

Stability is the cornerstone of a product and should be a high priority. Building product extensions on top of an unstable core will only lead to further (and more costly) issues down the line, akin to placing a brick on top of a house of cards. Addressing stability issues early in the development lifecycle may seem costly at the time, but will be considerably cheaper and more beneficial in the long run. Once a product is stable, your team can focus on successfully building out new features or additional products and adding value for the end-user.

By making stability a priority, you’re taking the right step towards positive user experiences and overall business success. Contact DragonSpears if you’d like us to do a third-party code assessment. We can help you pinpoint improvements that will get you on track to success.

About Caitlin Whitworth

Caitlin graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Marketing from the University of Missouri. She also has her MBA in Business Administration from Missouri State University and is a Certified Scrum Product Owner, CSPO.