Basic software development principles

  1. Solid requirements – clear, complete, detailed, cohesive, attainable, testable requirements that are agreed to by all players. Use prototypes to help nail down requirements. In ‘agile’-type environments, continuous close coordination with customers/end-users is necessary.
  2. Realistic schedules – allow adequate time for planning, design, testing, bug fixing, re-testing, changes, and documentation; personnel should be able to complete the project without burning out.
  3. Adequate testing – start testing early on, re-test after fixes or changes, plan for adequate time for testing and bug-fixing. ‘Early’ testing ideally includes unit testing by developers and built-in testing and diagnostic capabilities.
  4. Stick to initial requirements as much as possible – be prepared to defend against excessive changes and additions once development has begun, and be prepared to explain consequences. If changes are necessary, they should be adequately reflected in related schedule changes. If possible, work closely with customers/end-users to manage expectations. This will provide them a higher comfort level with their requirements decisions and minimize excessive changes later on.
  5. Communication – require walkthroughs and inspections when appropriate; make extensive use of group communication tools – groupware, wiki’s, bug-tracking tools and change management tools, intranet capabilities, etc.; insure that information/documentation is available and up-to-date – preferably electronic, not paper; promote teamwork and cooperation; use prototypes and/or continuous communication with end-users if possible to clarify expectations.