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Innovation and Product Development

Software Development Efficiency: Balancing Bug Fixes and New Code

When working on a software development project with limited resources, there is always the constant pull to meet a schedule and ship features. Since no developer is perfect, that also means bugs may slip into the code from time to time. If the schedule is crunched or unrealistic, the likelihood of consumer-facing bugs increases dramatically. So how should software developers balance their allocated time between creating new code and fixing bugs – all before launch?

Bug fixes & the software development life cycle

The software development life cycle is broken into steps, whether it is the waterfall model or agile, but there should always be time set aside to solve bugs, even if they may seem small or insignificant. Bug fixing should always be a part of the schedule and be accounted for within software development estimates. Fixing bugs as they occur will be more cost-effective than trying to put them off until the feature is complete. It is also far easier to estimate for new code than to estimate a bug fix, which will allow for better feature and development estimation.
When the code is fresh in a developers mind, it will take them significantly less time to track it down and fix it. If a developer is revisiting code they wrote weeks or months ago, they may not be capable of recalling all of the moving fixes involved in tracking it down. If the bug is left for someone else to find later, the time involved will be even more, since the new person will have to become familiar with the system and code before they can even begin to track it down.

Improving your software development processes

The best part about tackling bugs as they occur is that it allows you to pivot and adapt to changing markets – leading to process improvement. If your code has fewer flaws, the business can quickly iterate on new ideas and features if the direction or scope of the project needs to change. Also, if you need to add another developer to the team in the middle of the project, they will have an easier time coming in to clean code than coming in to code already on fire and in need of fixing.
So, while writing new code is important for the schedule and to get a project to the finish line, fixing bugs should be equally (if not more) important for the overall health of a product over the long term and should be a top priority. This methodology facilitates a more adaptive software development process.

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Damian Strong

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