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Using code base intelligence to reduce software development and maintenance costs

Software development projects often come under intense pressure as the agreed delivery date approaches. Many are finished on time only at the expense of quality, others are delivered late. Both situations are costly. Why does this pressure arise? One central reason is that organisations lack insight into the software development process.

Code base intelligence – information derived directly from the source code – can provide valuable insight into the quality of software as it is being developed. It can allow your organisation to establish a foundation for objective decision making on software development projects and dramatically reduce the risk of poor code quality and project overruns.

Understand the impact of quality on software costs

Software written in poor-quality code leads to high development costs. The risk of expensive delays increases towards the end of the development process as delivery teams struggle to keep functionality intact while rectifying the most severe errors.

Poor quality also leads to high maintenance costs, because software that is overly complex, lacks the proper amount of human readable comments, or is wrongly structured takes much longer to maintain. Furthermore, there is a markedly increased risk that future changes to poor-quality software will introduce new errors, hampering a company’s ability to adjust its software applications to meet business demands.

While using code base intelligence to develop high-quality software can reduce development costs significantly, the impact of this type of approach on maintenance costs is greater still - delivering savings typically three or four times greater than savings on development costs.

Establish objective, dashboard-based insight

The quality metrics that modern computer science can derive straight from the source code include checks for correctness, such as consistent error handling, as well as checks for overly complex logic or duplicated code that will impair maintainability. By assembling and presenting these metrics in a dashboard, your business can make a real-time, objective assessment of the quality of the code base being developed. The dashboard can show how development is progressing overall and also provide the detail necessary for drilling down to identify the problematic lines in the code. For example, this approach helped one Danish public authority discover and address more than 6,000 quality problems in a business critical software application.

Take control 

By using the objective information in the dashboard as a foundation for decisions, you can make quality the driver of your development process. Code base intelligence enables you to spot and react to trends as early as possible and provide the necessary feedback to your development team or supplier. As a result, you can stay on top of the development process and ensure that high standards of software quality are maintained at all times.

Code base intelligence can also allow you to take control of the maintenance process. One global mobile platform provider is using code base intelligence to gain a constant focus on the modules where maintenance effort is most needed.

Tailor the approach to your organisation 

Every organisation is different. Whether you have a large in-house development team or rely solely on outsourcing, you will benefit from keeping a finger on the pulse of the development progress through a dashboard. However, the measures you include in your dashboard will depend on what is important in your organisation. How frequently will you measure software quality? Which patterns are important to look out for, and how will you react if such a pattern arises? These are some of the central questions to address to maximise the benefits of code base intelligence.

To book a demonstration of code based intelligence applied to a global mobile software provider, or to find out how PA can help you use code based intelligence to cut software and maintenance costs, contact us now.

Tom McEwan
IT consulting
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