Consistency in Software Development: Why It’s Important

Hand pointing to tooth gear concept, demonstrating consistency in software development,

Robert C. Martin, the author of Clean Code, said: “You know you are working on clean code when each routine turns out to be pretty much what you expected.” In simpler words, consistency (and thus predictability) plays an integral role in the overall quality of your codes and programs. 

Consistency is one of the fundamental principles of software development. But many developers and SaaS companies still get it wrong. Here is an overview of why and how inconsistency affects software development and how to rectify it. 

Defining Consistency

Consistency in software development entails uniformity, conformity, or a singular way of doing things. Ultimately, consistency benefits software developers by making it easier to develop clean code. Additionally, the final product’s end users benefit by getting a product that is easy to use.

Consistency in software development and the SaaS industry is categorized into four main types: 

Visual Consistency 

Visual consistency entails making all similar elements appear alike. For example, the icon for Settings appears similar across various smartphone and PC platforms. 

Functional Consistency 

Functional consistency entails related applications working similarly. For example, you expect to go to the previous page or interface every time you click on the Back tab. 

External Consistency 

External consistency entails related applications and software products looking and working similarly. For example, the Apple and Android mobile platforms tend to work and look the same across various devices. 

Internal Consistency 

As explained earlier, Apple and Android mobile platforms tend to look and work the same across various devices. This is despite the regular periodic updates designed to improve aspects, such as security and user experience. Internal consistency in software development entails this key factor: introducing additional features that are consistent with the existing ones. 

Why It’s Important in Software Development

As highlighted earlier, consistency is one of the main principles in software development. Furthermore, it is one of the integral components behind maintainability, an integral aspect of the entire software development process. 

Consistency facilitates intuition. Different software developers can intuit how the codebase works in any given situation. And users can intuit how the end product works. This is especially important in cases where many software developers work on the same program over a long period.  

Consistency in software development is so important that it trumps improvement and innovation. Imagine a situation whereby three software developers work on one program over a long period. 

Software developer A uses one method until they are replaced by software developer B, who adopts a different and better method. Over time, software developer B is replaced by software developer C, who now has difficulty tracking the previous developers’ varying methods. This creates many obstacles in the software development process, including wastage of time and other resources. 

Consistency helps to overcome these challenges and offers dozens of benefits. Its greatest benefit is that the resulting program meets and exceeds the prevailing quality standards by providing an easy solution. Additionally, consistency helps push things along smoothly. As a result, projects are completed on time. Overall, the SaaS company is able to offer a satisfying user experience on all fronts. Ultimately, user experience is vital to compete in the marketplace.

Employee Turnover: The No. 1 Contributor to Inconsistency

Ensuring consistency in software development is easier said than done when software developers keep changing. Just reflect back on the three software developers above using varying methods while working on the same code. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics puts the turnover rate for software developers at 57.3 percent in 2021. Twenty-five percent of those software developers left their companies voluntarily, while 29 percent left involuntarily. 

This is a concerning trend for SaaS companies for several reasons, especially considering that the number of software developers and IT professionals, in general, has been growing steadily over the recent past. The number of IT professionals worldwide grew by about two million between 2019 and 2020, bringing their total number to about 55.3 million people

Additionally, it costs a considerable amount of time and money to replace software developers. Studies show that it costs about 150 percent of an employee’s base salary to replace them. In addition, it takes about 43 days to hire a new software developer. This doesn’t take into consideration the time it takes to complete the onboarding process, which can take as long as two months. 

Some of the top reasons driving the high employee turnover rate among software developers are: 

  • Higher compensation.
  • A better working environment.
  • More opportunities to express creativity.
  • Career advancement opportunities.

A high employee turnover rate disrupts consistency in software development in several ways. Some of the most notable ones include: 

Learning Disruptions 

Software development is a highly dynamic field that is always advancing. To this end, continuous learning is an integral aspect for every competent software developer. Software developers working for a particular company will learn according to the company’s needs and preferences. As such, changing software developers every now and then disrupts and eventually distorts the learning process. 

Team Disintegration 

Complex codes and programs often require teams of software developers working together over long periods (ranging from several months to several years). Additionally, good and cohesive teams take some time to build, considering the differences in individuals’ personalities. To this end, it becomes difficult to build strong teams when software developers change all the time. 

Dependency on Third Parties 

As established earlier, a high turnover rate among software developers disrupts a SaaS company’s operations. However, many companies tend to source out some of their coding and programming operations to third parties, such as freelance software developers. This helps fix a temporary problem. But it creates a long-term one from the resulting inconsistency. 

Get Guaranteed Consistency 

As explained earlier, some of the reasons behind the high turnover rate among software developers include higher compensation, better working environments, and career advancement. Unfortunately, not all SaaS companies can afford to meet all of these requirements. 

EC Group can help you ensure consistency among your software developers without spending a fortune. Pick from some of the best talents and enjoy a 95 percent retention rate for as long as you need. Get in touch to learn more about how we can help. 

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