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Software bugs like to hide. And at the worst possible moment, they bite.
If I had a dime for every time I heard “the project is 80 percent complete”, then I would be a rich man. Unfortunately, the last 20 percent is when things are likely to go awry. Shockingly, that troublesome 20 percent can end up taking four or five times as long as the rest of the project.
What are software bugs?
The cause? Those pesky bugs, which appear uninvited. Chasing down and fixing bugs can sometimes be more difficult than the initial writing of the code.
Software bugs are flaws or failures in a program. Simply put, they prevent the app from working the way it should. Why do bugs pop up?
- Human error. Developers make mistakes, unintentionally creating problems in the software. Once a developer writes a bug into a program, it can be difficult for him to find. If he understood it was a bug, he wouldn’t have created it in the first place.
- Intermittent problems. Sometimes, bugs look like random occurrences. In complex systems, they can be extremely difficult to track down and understand.
- Lack of adequate testing. Without carefully testing each step of the development process, bugs can be easily overlooked.
Squashing the bugs
Fortunately, by adopting a series of best practices, software development firms can shine a light on bugs and squash them. A successful strategy requires planning, organization and discipline. Ask your software development team for their policies regarding:
- Testing at every stage of development. Systems can help identify and eliminate bugs early in the software development process. Unit testing (performed by developers) and functional testing (undertaken by QA professionals) should be laced throughout the project. Then, when bugs are uncovered, that portion of the programming is still fresh in the developer’s mind, making it easier to find a fix.
- Prioritization of bug fixes. Software development pros should have a plan in place for when and how to fix bugs. Some require an immediate fix to head off additional challenges. Others can be saved for later in the process. Your development team should be able to explain how they prioritize bugs to ensure your deadlines are met. Above all, don’t save all the bugs until the end. Fix the mission-critical ones as soon as you find them.
- Acceptance testing. Communication can be a challenge. Sometimes, the software development team does not fully understand your requirements or intentions for your app. Acceptance testing by you can be sprinkled into the development timeline, rather than held for the very end. That way, you might just spot some critical bugs before it’s too late. The best practice? See working software early and often. If a problem is deeply ingrained in the software, going back to change it at the end can be costly, if not nearly impossible. And don’t get fooled by vaporware or smoke-and-mirrors. Get a working copy that you can interact with yourself to see what really works.