Problems in software development: developers survey results

Idego Idego • Feb 17
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Software development has never been a piece of cake. However, its dynamic evolution leads to more and more challenges that developers have to face. At Idego, we decided to inquire about the topic in order to answer the question: what are the biggest problems in software development in 2022? Follow the article to learn the latest insights provided by developers of different backgrounds. 

Key findings

  • 70% of software development problems are non-technical.
  • For 31% of respondents, the biggest problem is bad management.
  • 13.7% of software developers complain about bad communication.
  • Client-related issues were raised by 10.9% of the respondents. 
  • Almost 10% complain about outdated solutions.
  • The more experience the developer is, the more they care about performance, usability, and hiring issues.
  • Legacy code problems, changes of scope, poor management and communication issues are equally important for most developers.
  • The youngest developers don’t pay as much attention to performance, security, complexity of tasks and usability as senior developers do.

Most software development problems are non-technical

First and foremost, let’s define the areas of the most common software development problems. Surprisingly, our respondents reported that the majority of them are related to non-technical problems. 

Bad management is the biggest problem for 31% of respondents

What exactly are these non-technical problems? According to developers’ statements, bad management is a severe inhibitor of IT projects. It was mentioned by more than 31% of respondents. We reached out to them to check what they exactly mean:

“For me, one of the most serious problems are excess of product owners and general organizational issues, including unclear task descriptions.” – IT specialist with other job function, more than 6 years of job experience

The other common complaints are unrealistic schedules and changes of scope:

“Continuously changing requirements every time the client changes their idea about the application’s functionalities are a big issue. Obviously, rebuilding the application on a quite advanced stage might be challenging. Therefore it is important for the Project Manager to always be “one step ahead” of the client, and to predict their future needs in order to ensure the right flexibility in the development process” – Full-stack developer, less than 2 years of job experience.

Bad communication is the second biggest problem

Communication issues are the next major problems in software development, reported by 13.7% of respondents.

“Precise communication is a must in software development. It might happen that the development team interprets project requirements differently from what the client had in their mind. As a result, the team might deliver something completely different from what was actually requested. Therefore it is important to be aware of the meaning behind loosely defined terms, inexactness and understatements” – Full-stack developer, less than 2 years of job experience

Client-related issues were raised by 10.9% of the respondents. 

“Miscommunication with clients is unfortunately common. Clients are usually unaware of what happens backstage in the development process. This is why they tend to raise their expectations and require to develop the app within an unrealistic deadline. On the contrary, the development team can also lead to misunderstandings by using too complicated, technical language when speaking with clients” – Full-stack developer, 2-5 years of job experience

Almost 10% complain about outdated solutions

Legacy code and integration problems were problems raised by almost 10% of respondents.

“From my experience, there are two common problems while implementing new features: framework restrictions and problems with integrating a new code with the pre-existing project structure” – Front-end developer, less than 2 years of job experience

“Using old technology is a huge problem for me. The industry is constantly changing, and the teams must be able to adapt to those changes quickly” – Full-stack developer, 2-5 years of job experience.

The other frequently mentioned problems in software development were:

  • Application performance (for 6.16% of respondents)
  • Lack of motivation and sense of importance for the company (for 6.16% of respondents).

Below you can find the full overview:

The importance of a specific software development problem depends on the developer’s experience 

When analyzing the outcomes from the survey, we observed that some problems gain or lose importance along with the growth of developers’ experience. Let’s check out how exactly they differ. 

The chart above presents that legacy code problems, changes of scope, poor management and communication issues are equally important for most developers, regardless of their experience. However, they were most frequently mentioned by mid-level developers, having 2-5 years of job experience.

The survey also revealed that the youngest developers (having less than 2 years of experience) don’t pay as much attention to performance, security, complexity of tasks, and usability as senior developers do. On the contrary, the most experienced IT specialist complain more about bug fixing.

One of the most intriguing points of the overview is “Little experience”. This issue seems to be burning for both junior and senior developers, however, reasons for that are probably different. While younger developers may suffer from the lack of their own experience, most experienced specialists probably complain about recruitment issues.

Research methodology

The survey was conducted by the Idego Group. The responders highlighted the most critical problems in the software development process. In order to get the most relevant insights, we started with open questions and then used the answers to prepare a multiple-choice questionnaire. 

Almost 45% of the respondents are developers with over 6 years of experience, 33% with 2 to 5 years of experience, and 22.5% are the youngest developers that have worked in the profession for less than 2 years.

To provide you with information about backgrounds and positions, almost half of the respondents (48.2%) are back-end and full-stack developers. 9.4% of them are front-end developers. Only a few specialists work in the area of UI/UX design, DevOps, QA, or Data Science.

The summary

Although software development is obviously complicated, most of the problems in the industry are not related to technology. This result highlights the importance of soft skills in the software development process, with management and communication competencies among others. So, what will you do in 2022 to improve your software development process?

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