Main challenges in Software Development

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In the software development industry, we find that as many as 50% of custom software development projects fail. This age-old problem is a nightmare for many CTOs and tech managers. According to the State of Software Development 2020 report, the most significant challenges to succeed in a dynamic software industry that is driven by changing technology trends and challenged by multiple internal and external factors, your development teams must have a clear understanding of the problems that lie ahead of them and a roadmap to overcome them. Let’s get into it.

What’s the Biggest Software Development Challenge?

In the beginning of 2020, Apiumhub collaborated on the State of Software Development report, where software development companies pointed out their most significant challenges.

In collaboration with Coding Sans, we drilled down into the results of the survey based on responses from more than 700 leaders at software development companies around the world, from 81 countries.

Let’s see what are the TOP 5 challenges in software development:

  • Capacity (22,46%)
  • Sharing Knowledge (19,46%)
  • Prioritizing Development (16,74%)
  • Hiring Talent (14,88%)
  • Time Management (12,02%)

1. Capacity

Capacity is the main concern among managers, with 22.46 % ranking it as the biggest challenge their companies face. Delivering working software while the backlog is full and capacity is limited is commonly handled by hiring more developers to increase the potential workload. But let’s see how software companies are finding ways to improve capacity:

  What is the value of ideas ?

capacity software

2. Sharing Knowledge

From the perspective of a developer, Coding Sans’ survey shows that the most significant challenge is sharing knowledge. Mentoring is an underutilized tool among software developers; it’s worth looking into how to set up a system for it.

According to the survey, the most popular project management tools that software development companies use are:

 sharingknowledge software

3. Prioritizing Development

The report also highlight that software development companies commonly use a variety of tools to improve productivity and quality. Researchers also asked software development companies which tools are used for software testing, and the most common are:

prioritizing software4. Hiring Talent

Hiring was the biggest challenge back in 2018 but it still accounts for the fair part of challenges. Hiring talent is #2 priority for managers, as the lack of workforce is still an industry-wide issue. Naturally developers are far less worried about hiring. Let’s have a look at the most efficient methods to hire talent:

hiring software

5. Time Management

Time management has a significant disparity as a far more common challenge for individual contributors than managers. Software development is a time-game. Developers work under pressured environments and strive to complete project requirements within strict and scanty timelines. Time constraints often bring down efficiencies of development teams and lead to mediocre quality software products in the end. In 2018, time management (along with capacity) were the top challenges developers were facing. By 2020, developers have been less worried about time management:

challenge softwareOther Challenges in Software Development?

  • Rapid technology advancement: Every technology advancement is a blessing for the IT industry. But at the same time, technology evolving at a phenomenal rate leads to an added pressure for software development professionals to leverage these upcoming technology trends in software product development to gain a cutting edge over competitors and stand out in the market.
  • Increasing customer demands: Software projects are generally conceptual and are aimed at designing and developing software products that meet varied customer demands. To develop even the simplest application or product, developers must clearly understand the underlying business concept and bring in the required features to satisfy the growing customer demands.
  • Limited infrastructure/resources: Another challenge faced by majority of software development companies is a lack of resources or IT infrastructure to execute projects effectively. This could mean a lack of high performance software development tools, powerful computing platforms, inefficient data storage architectures or improper networks and connectivity. Such hindrances bring down productivity and performance of software development teams and impact the overall result.
  • Conflicts with software testing teams: In a classic software development project, interpersonal conflicts occur inevitably between software development and testing teams. Several factors contribute to such conflicts like working under high performance pressure, different mindsets, difference in job roles and the very opposite nature of development and testing. If not controlled and managed effectively, these conflicts could hamper the overall project adversely.
  Current tech market job status

Software development evolves super-fast

A tool or framework used today might be obsolete tomorrow. By taking snapshots of the industry, we can track how it evolved in the past and make an educated guess as to where it’s headed. To better understand these changes and to uncover the biggest challenges and best practices, State of Software Development Report started publishing back in 2018.

The report gives you the fresh data you need to benchmark your activities against survey participants. You get insights to further improve your developer team and to keep up with the rapidly changing industry. Plus, you get to compare the new data to previous years where you can find even more fascinating insights about the software development landscape.

You can download the 2020 full report for free here


  1. Abigail Wenderson

    These are some really great insights! Hiring continues to be a challenge for most companies. Accessing the top talent can be very tricky for recruiters and hiring managers. What do you feel are the best solutions for this issue?

    • Ivan Suárez

      Indeed, Abigail. Implementing the most effective candidate selection practices is a tricky process. We strongly believe in expanding candidate reach by building a multichannel recruitment strategy that also allows targeting passive candidates and building a talent pool.

  2. John Carter

    This is a great article with some research behind it. One area where I’ve found a challenge is in the area of product definition. Although you mention ‘customer demands’ towards the end of the study, I have found that this is the #1 root cause for delays and programs missing their mark. Do you think the priority is as low as your study indicates? What has your experience been with challenges in product definition?

  3. Mamta Sharma

    Backend Developer Roadmap for 2020. In the era of internet-based mobile and web applications, the high reliance on powerful cloud servers and cheaper handheld or portable computing devices have increased the mankind’s accessibility over powerful applications at a cheaper cost. On the other end, dependency on backend computing tasks has grown exponentially that created an ocean of opportunities for backend developers.

  4. Sylwia Swierczek

    It is a great article highlighting the challenges in software development. I agree to all of that. Because of a dynamic industry the most important thing for a software developer is to keep up with a technology. It’s really challenging – there are lots of changes in a short time.

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