De-Stressing over Software


Marketing-Developer-QualityIt’s funny how early stress can manifest itself in human beings. Even my young daughter has found herself under stress lately as she prepares for her annual dance recital this weekend.

It’s not like she hasn’t done this before – she’s in her third year already – but just knowing she’s going to be up on stage performing for an audience has her visibly anxious this week. I’m sure that it’s the recital that is causing this, too, because she exhibited the same exact behavior last year and the year before. She also demonstrated similar anxiousness earlier this year prior to her Kindergarten class concert.

It just goes to show you that even when you do things multiple times, the same stress can result.

And it’s not just children in whom such stress is manifested. Marketing and IT have definitely developed their stress points, particularly around speed to market versus quality. Their stress levels have reached a point where, if I were their parents or teachers, I would seriously consider issuing them both a “time out” until they learned to play together nicely. My other thought echoes that of long-time industry pundit Larry Tieman who recently pointed to the stress points between IT and Marketing over on InformationWeek and insisted that the two should, “Deal with it!”

If IT Leads…

Tieman, who is a veteran of many IT battles after having served as CTO and VP of Product Development, is quite eloquent in describing what needs to be done in order to ensure that the anxiousness between Marketing and IT can be kept in check. He simply says, “corner the head of IT and tell that executive that he or she should have taken the lead and proposed developing the joint plan.”

Seems like a good plan to me. While the cache that comes with being all things to everybody and rolling out new software features in quick succession may make a software vendor seem “cool,” but when those features start failing that popularity can wane very quickly.

Speed is something that is invariably being pushed for by the Marketing folks, but they should look more toward the long-term view – will getting software out faster by cutting corners really achieve the “cool” factor they’re looking for or would getting the quality right before roll out be the wiser approach. Usually, the marketing team wins this battle by pushing the development team and the developers responding by delivering a product that it had not fully checked for issues.

Companies across the globe want speed, but they should not sacrifice quality for speed. In the end, there is speed in diligence because performing the due diligence of assessing the structural quality of application software leads to a better product being made available sooner. In order to be allowed to get that chance to achieve quality, the IT and development side need to take the lead.

… Quality Follows

When IT leads, one of the first things it should insist upon is that developers be given the opportunity to institute a program of structural quality assessment – including code reviews – at each phase of the build. Code reviews require extra steps and time, but they are among the least expensive ways to improve software quality because with each phase of a software build. Thorough structural analysis takes ten times longer and costs ten times more to find errors with each successive phase of a build. So if a company goes through three phases of a build on a piece of software, waiting until it is complete means finding and fixing errors will be 1,000-times greater, a significant hit to a company’s technical debt that need not exist.

The problem is that until recently doing a stage-by-stage analysis and measurement of application software’s structural quality had been a manual and therefore highly inefficient and costly experience. As such, most organizations avoided it – Marketing in particular must have been particularly against it since it not only would delay completion, but also would increase the final cost of the product.

Automated analysis and measurement solutions, however, apply advanced diagnostics to identify and quantify structural flaws, arming developers with the information necessary to make fixes. And although automated analysis and measurement solutions may add a bit of time to the development process, they are far more efficient and far less time consuming than manual structural analysis, which is grossly inefficient.

Software-Quality-AssessmentWhen coupled with a well-thought-out development plan that clarifies predictability and used in concert with advanced editing, debugging and other tools, automated analysis and measurement solutions provide visibility into the structural quality of an application. Ultimately, optimized software is achieved faster, which greatly increases the long-term value of the application…not to mention spending a little time on getting it right won’t add as much time as trying to fix malfunctions, restore outages or mitigate losses of data due to breaches of vulnerable software.

So maybe Marketing needs to take a deep breath and allow IT to massage its work…and then maybe they can learn to just get along.


Filed in: Technical Debt
Jonathan Bloom
Jonathan Bloom Technology Writer & Consultant
Jonathan Bloom has been a technology writer and consultant for over 20 years. During his career, Jon has written thousands of journal and magazine articles, blogs and other materials addressing various topics within the IT sector, including software development, enterprise software, mobile, database, security, BI, SaaS/cloud, Health Care IT and Sustainable Technology.
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