The Cost of Technical Debt

We live in an increasingly debt-driven society.

Think about it. Without a credit history, you are likely to struggle to be accepted for a mortgage or a tenancy agreement, your chances of landing that job you wanted might significantly be reduced, and wonder of wonders, irony of ironies — even a basic credit card could be strictly off the table!

Perhaps unsurprisingly, therefore, in many ways, the same holds true for our software systems. While here, debt is never accumulated as a result of borrowing more funds, it does nonetheless still manifest itself by accruing dues of another kind — technical debt, as it is known.

Put simply, the term refers to the implied cost of additional work that is caused by choosing an easy solution now as opposed to taking a better, yet more complicated approach that would likely take much longer to deliver.

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Software Metrics: How We Promote Transparency

If you’ve ever worked on a project where very little — if any — attempt was made to keep everyone involved up to speed with development, then you’ll certainly understand how infuriating this can be.

In fact, even those who were blessed enough to have never suffered the ordeal will more than likely still relate, at least on an intellectual level. The Dalai Lama, for instance, while never once a software guru, famously stated that “a lack of transparency results in distrust and a deep sense of insecurity.”

And naturally, here at Software Planet, we couldn’t be more in agreement.

This is why we have put in place a series of mechanisms that can guarantee that you, our valued customers, will be kept informed at all times.

Yet of all of these, perhaps the best example is that of our software metrics.

 

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What to Expect from Our Estimates

If you are reading this article, our trusted business analysts have likely agreed to impart upon your project some much-needed estimates; and well, you’ve come to the right place!

After all, for today’s blog post, we would like to spell out our meticulous process for preparing estimations, the different sorts of artefacts you should be ready to receive and how this all will play out in the end — on that note, by the by, if you find that any or all your expectations have not been adequately lived up to, please do not hesitate to contact us at any time. This will help SPG to continue improving our company’s services for you as well as our future customers.

So, with this in mind and without further ado, let us dive right in!

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Making the Most of Code Review

Every Agile development process strongly stresses the motif that the main goal of developers should not be to concern themselves with side issues, but rather to generate working code. This allows us to implement a variety of features in accordance with our customers’ requirements.

Unfortunately, however, out in the real world, it is crucial to not only strive to implement functionality, but also to ensure your code will be kept clean and without duplicates, being easy to understand, support and extend, makes extensive use of automated tests and presents as little as possible technical debt — that is, valuable work postponed by virtue of restrictive deadlines or other more pressing priorities.

This is why over the years, both customers and programmers have jointly devised a number of solutions for assessing code quality as well as providing projects with the appropriate level of support, throughout development. Of all of these, however, one popular technique distinctly stands out — the exceptional practice of code review.

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Our Development Process

At Software Planet, we take great pride in our customer-centric development process. This is why from start to finish, a striking sense of partnership is present in all we do.

Still, we recognise that for those with limited exposure to Agile development, an inescapable learning curve may also be perceived; so for this article, we would like to walk you step-by-step through our tried-and-trusted methods.

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Integrating New Arrivals

Our customers often inquire as to how in the world our newer developers will be skilful enough to deal with our development process — and really, who can blame then?

After all, how laid-back and comfortable would you feel if the man assigned to the critical case of your tooth extraction were an obvious hatchling fresh out of dental school?

“Let’s see then… I think this, no, erm… this over here is what I need! Right, could you open up your mouth, please? Uh huh… Oh dear. Oh no. That won’t work, will it? Well, maybe something sharper!”

Horrifying, right? Of course, to begin with, the words “comfortable” and “dentist” are hardly representative of a pairing made in heaven; but the point, nonetheless, is you would probably feel a lot more at ease if the drill were handed over to an experienced professional.

Now thankfully, as you probably know, our own situation is entirely different. But just to help to allay those fears, Software Planet would now like to reveal our careful and deliberate process for successfully integrating newer arrivals into the heart of our company.

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Raising Giants: Our Internship Programme

How often do you take the time to invest in your future? For most of us, as life kicks into full gear, the opportunities seem fewer and farther between.

Yet as many of you will also know well, no better time for change exists than in the pivotal years of our youth. This is when a single miscalculated move could quickly spell the difference between a burgeoning career in something you love and a lifetime of hopeless disappointment.

For nearly a decade now, it is precisely this awareness which has formed the basis for one of Software Planet’s most beloved projects of all: our internship programme.

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User Stories: Bridging the Gap Between Customers and Developers (Updated)

When choosing a software provider to create the web or desktop solution your company needs, communication is indeed key, but this may be easier said than done. The gap between programmers and customers can quickly become apparent and is often a challenge to master, as most customers are unprepared to discuss their projects from a strictly technical point of view.

In order to get past these difficulties and effectively relay their requirements, some companies resort to UML or workflow diagrams, while yet others go for UI sketches and lengthy free text descriptions.

At Software Planet Group, however, we think both customers and developers should always be on the same page, and speak the same language (see our article on the system metaphor for more on this subject). This is why wherever we can, we aim to simplify the management of requirements, using tried-and-true techniques that enable us to quickly determine the full scope of a project, estimate and re-estimate particular features and releases.

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Our Rapid Prototyping Process

“I am speed,” declared Lightning McQueen, the fearless red racer voiced by Owen Wilson in Pixar’s animated Cars. His psyching words are a gauging meter for the general mood in the 21st Century — when time is money, then agility must be the word. Anything short of full throttle will put valuable resources at risk.

Of course, the other danger is when too much speed is applied to the wrong processes. And yet every day, countless companies pour their assets away into projects that — unbeknownst to them — are going far off the mark.

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Why Stand-Up Meetings Matter

According to a recent study by the Michigan State University, people who spend a lot of time sitting down are often plagued by slow cognitive function, long-term memory loss and generally poor mental health.

By contrast, the simple act of standing up has been shown to send blood and oxygen pumping throughout our bodies, activating a number of chemicals that not only enhance our brains but also improve our overall mood.

This, however, is merely the scientific case for an Agile practice that over time has proven itself indispensable to development teams across the world, including our own.

We are talking, of course, about stand-up meetings. Whether you know them as “scrums” or “huddles,” the daily stand-up is a powerful practice to increase team unity, coordinate efforts, and share problems and progress in a quick and effective manner.

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