Software development top 30 mistakes

Posted on January 18th, 2008

I have been developing software and web applications for nearly 11 years now. Software development has come a long way since the days of Binary, Cobol, etc. What still fascinates me about software development is the same mistakes made before, are still made today.

Below are the top 30 Mistakes that are made within the software development process. It’s amazing to see that none of these have anything to do with the language itself.

  1. Not understanding the user’s needs. Lack of user input, or not even asking.
  2. Underestimating the size of the project.
  3. Rushing through the planning stage, or avoiding the planning all together. Code first, plan later! BAD!
  4. Not testing early enough, often, or at all! Make it a habit!
  5. Choosing the ‘Cool’ methodology at the time, vs. one that has worked in the past. Which leads into my next point…
  6. Not using a methodology.
  7. Letting a software developer run the software development project.
  8. Bored, unmotivated team! You have to motivate your developers! If you can’t motivate, don’t bother trying to lead. Your team will fall asleep, literally.
  9. Planning on catching up later. You won’t… don’t even think it!
  10. Non Source Control! Ouch.. not good people… and no, just installing a software package is not it…
  11. Deciding to switch your development tools when you’re already into the project.
  12. Allowing feature creep. Just say NO! Everyone will be happier in the end.
  13. Omitting necessary tasks to shorten the project plan. Really, what’s the point of doing this?
  14. Insufficient management controls in the development project.
  15. Lack of high level business sponsorship.
  16. Adding people at the end of the project to ‘speed things up’. You will only slow things down…
  17. No unit testing. Heck if you can do it, use Visual Studio Team Foundation Server and set up some automated testing nightly.
  18. Stressed out software developers. If you have managed to perform even one or two of these software development mistakes, you will have a stressed out bunch of programmers to deal with!
  19. Lack of error handling.
  20. ‘Off by one’ errors. These happen a lot during the software development process.. *sigh*.
  21. Typos… Just use option strict and explicit please.. during one software development project, which I was on as a consultant, they were getting ridiculous amounts of errors everywhere… turned out the developer couldn’t spell and would declare variables with incorrect spelling.. no big deal, until you use the correct spelling when you’re assigning a value to it… and you had option explicit off. Ouch to them…
  22. No understand the deployment or hardware the software is to be installed on. Ohhhh it’s for a Macintosh… lol. Well hopefully not that bad, but you get the point.
  23. No naming style or code conventions. Honestly it doesn’t matter what you use… as long as you are consistent with the rest of the team, and hopefully at least yourself.
  24. Using global variables everywhere. These are NOT your friend and hog memory like nothing you have ever seen before!
  25. Not asking for help at all during the software development process. If you’re stuck, don’t fight with it for hours on end! Ask for help!
  26. Not commenting your code.
  27. Hogging all information to yourself. You think you’re more valuable this way? You’re actually not and there is a plan brewing to get you kicked off the development project, and possibly out of the company. You might want to brush up your sign ‘Will code for pizza!’.
  28. Performing database operations at the application layer instead of the database layer. Not only is this putting the processing juice on your application instead of your server, but you have put your database at risk of data integrity issues, and getting bad data! Some of my hipster cool friends are always saying ‘It’s alllll good’, well, if your database can be caught saying this… and If everything looks good to your database, then you should be worried. It is NOT all good!
  29. Not validating your data! Yikes… Yes.. let’s just assume all the data is perfect! NOT!
  30. No load testing. What.. This is supposed to run on 1,000 user’s machines through Citrix? Interesting… Shouldn’t be an issue! lol… NOT.
    Software development is tricky enough! Make it easier on yourself by ensuring you do not make any of these mistakes. Although it seems like a simple list of things not to do, it can make your life so much easier!

By Miguel Carrasco (