It can be extremely difficult for non-technical product leaders to evaluate the quality of their software, especially when outsourcing. Simply checking that “it works” is not sufficient. In this post, we’ll dive into how software quality can be examined, and the end-result differences between cheap and high-quality software development firms.
Software needs to be easy to work with so that future teams can easily understand the codebase. This becomes essential when conducting regular maintenance, adding new product features, fixing bugs, and onboarding new talent. Central to this is an emphasis on modular design and pristine code architecture. Clean, organized code not only enhances readability but also facilitates seamless maintenance and scalability. These best practices are taught in most engineering or computer science programs, and high-quality software teams often spend a noticeable amount of time on designing the system before writing any code.
A common misconception about software development is that all software engineers are well-versed and competent in all languages and frameworks. While a good engineer might be able to learn a new framework quickly, this still adds to development time. Poorly built software often leverages obscure or outdated tech stacks with small developer ecosystems. It is crucial to choose a tech stack with a large (and thriving) developer community. This will ensure an ability to attract talent in the future and will drastically decrease onboarding time.
Scalability dictates a product’s ability to accommodate increasing workloads while maintaining peak performance and stability. Robust architectures and optimized database design are critical in this pursuit. Scalability is not merely about managing higher user volumes; it’s about doing so efficiently, ensuring a seamless user experience even under variable workloads while avoiding unexpected server bills. Depending on your product, you might need to accommodate fluctuating demand with random surges, consistently high usage, or low user volumes with high individual user activity. These varying requirements dictate how your product should be architected, especially when it comes to servers and databases.
Reliability epitomizes a product’s consistent, predictable performance across diverse scenarios. Your product needs to be able to handle obscure edge cases and provide helpful error messages without crashing. High quality software teams achieve this through rigorous testing, which is done through unit, integration, and end-to-end testing. Efficient teams follow a test-driven-development approach, where quality assurance is done throughout the development of the product. This optimizes development speed without compromising on quality.
While evaluating software may seem like a black box, these aspects provide simple ways to gauge software quality. We’ve seen countless situations where non-technical product leaders hire the wrong software development team and have had to rebuild significant portions of their products. Hopefully these considerations help you when deciding which software team to work with.