The Benefits and Disadvantages of “Fast” and “Slow” Software Development

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The Benefits and Disadvantages of Fast Development 

In the world of software development, the speed of development plays a critical role. Clients seeking solutions to their problems often want them delivered quickly and cost-effectively.

For developers and the companies they work for, there is constant pressure to produce high-quality code as fast as possible while being fully aware that rushing can increase stress, distract focus, and destroy productivity. 

What is needed instead is creativity, effectiveness, and focus. Speed can come from working “smart” within a team — streamlining the review/testing process so time is not unnecessarily wasted during development. 

The Advantages of Fast Software Development

  • Client Satisfaction: Meeting clients' demands promptly enhances their satisfaction and trust in your services
  • Contract Fulfillment: Swift project completion allows developers to take on new projects, staying competitive in the industry
  • Reputation Building: Companies that consistently produce clean, bug-free code quickly earn a solid reputation, attracting new customers through word of mouth
  • Competitive Advantage: Speed gives software development companies an edge over slower rivals

Challenges of Fast Software Development

Clearly, there are advantages to both the client and developer to get the project completed as quickly as possible. But, let’s examine a couple of scenarios to investigate whether speed alone trumps all other considerations.

For example, a client has a budget of $40,000 a month and wants a project completed in 6 months. The advantage to the client is that such a large budget should make them a priority for the development firm that they have contracted with. And, theoretically, more resources will be dedicated to their project to complete the project in the 6-month development window successfully.

For the development team, this situation can be full of challenges that might disrupt the development roadmap.

  • Limited Reflection Time: Money is being spent so quickly that the development team, and the client for that matter, may not have the time they need to reflect and give feedback on the work that has been completed
  • Backtracking: If the UI/UX functionality doesn’t actually solve the problem that it is intended to – the development team may need to backtrack and address issues that could’ve been found and addressed if there had been adequate time to reflect, test, and provide feedback 
  • Communication Overhead: With a project that has a large budget but a short development window, there may be pressure on the development firm to place more teams at the disposal of the project to build faster which increases the overhead of communication
  • Work Duplication: Adding more developers to a 5-7 developer team usually does not necessarily make the work go faster. Multiple teams working on the same project increases the possibility of work being duplicated or missed resulting in a slowdown in development
  • Potential "Death March": As development slows due to ongoing complications there is a very real possibility of the project becoming a “Death March” 

What is a “Death March” in Software Development?

A “Death March” is a project which participants believe is destined for failure, or that requires a significant amount of unsustainable overwork. Death marches are usually a result of overly optimistic expectations in scheduling or feature scope. Management may desperately attempt to right the course of the project by asking team members to work especially grueling hours (14-hour days or 7-day weeks) or by attempting to "throw (enough) bodies at the problem", often causing burnout (

The Benefits and Disadvantages of Slow Development 

Initially, slow development may not seem appealing to clients, who typically desire quick results. However, it's better to view "slow" development as "careful and comprehensive" development. Thoughtfully organized, well-documented, and thoroughly tested code surpasses hastily assembled solutions that accumulate technical debt. Balancing speed and quality requires collaboration between clients, product owners, and the development team. 

Pros of Slow Development

  • More Iteration Time: Allows for in-depth iteration, discussion, and reflection
  • User Feedback Analysis: Provides ample time to process and analyze real user feedback
  • Effective Coordination: Facilitates effective coordination between the client and the development team
  • Reduced Fragmentation: Avoids developers working on incomplete features

Cons of Slow Development

  • Prolonged Timelines: Slower development can lead to missed deadlines, eroding confidence in the project 
  • Uncertainty: A sluggish pace can make it challenging to estimate project completion

devops-diagram Photo credit:

Striking the Balance between Fast and Slow Development

So, the benefits and disadvantages of fast versus slow development are pretty clear and neither option really delivers the results a development team, or company, or a client for that matter, would be happy with. 

In the world of software development, many companies and organizations are embracing Agile methodology. Agile has developed a reputation for being “fast” or “ quick." But, really, it should be thought of as a way to deliver working software to the customer in a shorter period of time. Agile is an iterative approach to software development that helps teams deliver value to their customers faster and with fewer hassles. It comprises various strategies under which requirements and solutions evolve through the collaborative effort of a team, continual planning, and continual learning. Implementing Agile enables teams to deliver the product faster with enhanced quality and predictability, and flexibility to respond to change. Agile focuses on keeping the process lean and creating minimum viable products (MVPs) that go through several iterations. Everyone is working together towards a single defined goal. 

The key values and principles of Agile are:

  • Software Over Documentation: Prioritizing working software over exhaustive documentation
  • Interactions Over Processes: Emphasizing individual interactions over rigid processes
  • Collaboration with Customers: Continually collaborating with customers to adapt to changing requirements
  • Adaptation to Change: Prioritizing adaptability over rigidly following a plan

Before Agile was launched in 2001, most software development followed the Waterfall methodology. With this approach, a substantial amount of documentation was required before any coding could begin. Business analysts would create the requirements documentation, which the technical department used to develop their technical requirements. Afterward, the focus shifted to coding and testing. This entire process could span months or even years in the Waterfall method. Making changes, especially to features developed early in the project, was challenging. The Waterfall process, which follows a sequence of 'plan, design, build, test, deliver,' was slow and laborious. However, it offered predictability when project timelines were fixed and couldn't be adjusted. If you needed quicker results, Agile was the better choice. Agile prioritizes action and building things over excessive documentation and process (Billie Keita, Aug. 4, 2022).

Conclusion - Go “Slow” to go “Fast”

agile-diagramPhoto credit: Dirk Wouters from Pixabay

At The SilverLogic (TSL) we embrace Agile and Scrum principles. Scrum is the framework that helps our teams work together. It helps teams to collaborate, learn through experiences, and self-organize while working on a problem. Then, reflect on what they did well or didn’t do well during a sprint (a short, time-boxed period when a scrum team works to complete a set amount of work). We have found Scrum to be the best way for us to implement Agile projects and develop software for our clients and stakeholders. The benefits of Agile Scrum methodology are pretty clear: 

  • Flexibility and adaptability
  • Creativity and innovation
  • Lower costs
  • Quality improvement
  • Organizational synergy
  • Employee satisfaction
  • Customer satisfaction

We have delivered projects to many satisfied clients and we continue to deliver high-quality working software for our clients day in and day out. If you have an idea for a project and would like to discuss what we at TSL can do for you and your business/organization, please get in touch!

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