Want to avoid being penny-wise but pound-foolish?

Here are ten typical traps in software production that backfire

Want to avoid being penny-wise but pound-foolish?

Want to avoid being penny-wise but pound-foolish?

Here are ten typical traps in software production that backfire

Want to avoid being penny-wise but pound-foolish? Here are ten typical traps in software development that backfire.


The world of software development is full of gaps, and they can trip you up.

While some are obvious (e.g., hiring the cheapest engineers you can find), others are less visible but no less problematic (e.g., failing to get user input early and often). If you don’t watch out for these common pitfalls in your own process, you may move forward only to fall flat on your face a few steps down the road.

1. Hiring the cheapest engineers you can find

It’s a common misconception that hiring cheap engineers means you can save money and improve your margins. The opposite is true.

Hiring cheap engineers has several negative consequences.

  • They have less experience and training than senior engineers. This means they will make more mistakes, costing your company money in the long run.
  • They take longer to figure things out. While senior engineers are 10x to 100x more productive than junior engineers, they only cost 2x to 3x as much. And larger teams are less efficient. So, all it takes is a little math to figure out that you want the most seasoned experts you can find.
  • They don’t know the right answers. Often there is a straightforward solution hidden in a pile of poor options. You can pay less skilled engineers for months to test, make mistakes, and wind their way to an answer. Or you can pay a seasoned professional and in 15 minutes they shortcut right to the best option.

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few”―Shunryu Suzuki
Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice

2. Failing to get user input early and often

As you probably know, user feedback is pretty important. It helps you understand what features are most valuable to users and lets them share their experiences with your product, so the team can learn from their insights.

But how much should you be listening? How often should you be gathering data? And how many people should be on the receiving end of that data?

The answer is: more than you think.

The thing about user research is that it should be continuous, and because we’re talking about software development here and not building a bridge, we can’t afford any significant gaps between getting new information and acting on it.

That means regular check-ins with users throughout all stages of development will give everyone involved a clearer picture. They’ll understand whether they’re making progress toward their goals—which ultimately helps developers avoid wasting time or money on features nobody wants or needs.

3. Not designing for success (your next million users)

When you’re building software, think ahead.

How will it grow over time? What do you want to do with your product? What’s in your near future if you succeed?

For example, you may need to pivot when building a product if you later find users need different features. When you add those new features, design them with the same principles: quality, scalability, and flexibility.

Keeping in mind that your software may have more users someday is a good idea. Designing for flexibility means thinking about how easy it is for your company or another third party to upgrade your system; designing for quality means being able to make your system simple, easy to use, and reliable.

And keep in mind that the only thing you can count on is change.

Design ahead today for tomorrow’s change. Anticipate ways in which things could go wrong or right—and ensure there are multiple ways around any potential problems encountered along the way.

And finally, designing for the future means considering where your business will be one year from now (or more) so that any decisions made today will not put limits on what can happen tomorrow

4. Not accounting for time spent on meetings and communication

If you want to make a lot of money, consider cutting meetings. Most are a colossal waste of time.

Email or another form of communication can often accomplish in five minutes (or less!) what you get out of most hour-long meetings.

Meetings are one of the biggest bottlenecks in software development, partly because they’re so unproductive. They tend to be unplanned and poorly organized, with too many people present and agendas that are ill-defined or nonexistent.

Not only that, but when someone new enters a room full of people who have been talking for some time, it’s difficult for them to jump into the conversation without preparation, and no one wants to feel stupid asking questions about discussions in progress.

Therefore, meetings are bad for sharing information; they typically don’t allow enough lead time for everyone involved to assimilate new facts before making a decision.

5. Not investing in business requirements, technical design, and planning

Business requirements are the foundation of any project. They define what an organization wants to achieve, who will use it, and how they’ll use it. If you don’t get these right, all other decisions will be off track.

Technical design is a plan for how your project will meet business goals, save money, and be able to grow. The technical team needs to understand the business requirements and all other constraints (e.g., budget, time, scope) before deciding how best to build something that meets all those constraints.

Then you need a technical execution plan to optimize project time, cost, and risk.

It’s all an experiment in any case, but skipping steps here means you’re paying for nonviable solutions that miss the mark. You lose precious time, money, and ultimately revenue from unforgiving customers.

6. Not building in quality throughout your software lifecycle

“Quality is free,” said W. Edwards Deming, one of America’s greatest industrialists. Many have heard this quote, which has become the mantra for modern quality control practices in the industry.

But what does it mean? What does “quality” mean when you’re talking about software development?

When building quality into a product, it’s not just about making sure that it works correctly and performs well; you also need to ensure that you equip developers with the skills, knowledge, and experience to deliver high-quality work consistently every time they touch an application or system during its lifecycle.

7. Not defining what quality is before building

The quality of your software is not just about bug-free code. It’s also about the documentation, your user experience, and even how easy it is for others to work with what you’ve created.

When you start a project without defining what “quality” means for that project, it’s hard to know if any of your decisions will lead to successful results.

8. Hoping that the project will run itself without regular health checks, ongoing analysis, and pivots

Project health checks are the first thing to go when managing multiple projects, and they’re often skipped because of time constraints, but they are essential for keeping your project on track. A quick daily check-in can save weeks of work by finding problems before they get worse.

If you have an agile team that’s working well, project analysis should happen automatically as part of their daily standup meetings; otherwise, it’s essential for someone on your team (or outside) to track your project. To discover concerns with your project as soon as possible, it’s important to keep track of progress against goals and KPIs systematically.

You’ll need flexibility throughout the process—pivots are inevitable at some point or another! No plan ever goes to plan, so when something is off during development, don’t panic; instead, take a step back and try something different until things get back on track again

9. Failing to invest in test and deployment automation

Automation requires investment. But you can’t afford to not automate.

In fact, you use automation to save time and money down the road, but it also has other benefits.

Automation is the key to delivering high-quality software on time with minimal errors and bugs. Many companies find that automating their testing process is all it takes to cut their QA costs by 50% or more.

Automation saves time and money because it allows you to run tests faster while reducing your need for human resources (which are always more expensive than machines).

By automating deployment, you’ll also be able to release updates faster, so customers will be able to use new features sooner.

This means happier users will be engaged with your product for longer periods of time—and you’ll generate more revenue as well!

10. Skipping code reviews and documentation upgrades

There are many reasons for software development teams to skip quality checks, code reviews, and documentation upgrades. They can be time-consuming, tedious, or just plain dull.

But these tasks are important for the quality of your product and for users to keep using it in the long run.

Before you release documentation, you should go through it and carefully review the changes.

Always do code reviews before you release a feature into production; they don’t have to be elaborate affairs, but they should happen regularly enough so that you can catch problems early in the process instead of at the end when they’re harder (or impossible) to fix quickly or cheaply!

Account for quality checks throughout your process, not just at the end. This can include automated testing or visual regression testing, but it also means ensuring that the codebase is always clean and well documented.

Don’t be penny-wise and pound-foolish. Watch out for common traps that cause you to fail.

Are you in the software business? You probably want to get your job done quickly and cheaply. But are you being penny-wise and pound-foolish? It’s easy to fall into common traps that will cost you more money in the long run.

Yes, try getting your job done quickly and cheaply. But you also need to ensure that what you’re doing will meet your needs!

Cutting corners is a recipe for disaster.

Making a quick fix that works in the short run may be cheaper, but it won’t last.

The goal is not just to get your job done quickly and cheaply—you also need to get it done right!


The software industry is harsh. The competition for customers is intense. You need to get your products out fast and adapt quickly to change.

But be careful: cheap isn’t always the solution, as it can lead to poorly thought-out decisions that will cost you more in the long run.

Make sure you know your ultimate aim and constraints to make informed decisions about your needs, costs, and risks.

Investing in upfront preparation saves money later on when you have to pivot!

And remember: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

Best wishes and warm regards–Matt

By the way,

If you’re reading this, you likely already know software development is multifaceted and complex. Companies often make the mistake of only focusing on one part and ignoring other keys that could really help unlock their project.

I get it. Resources are always limited. You’re constantly under pressure to deliver quickly.

But don’t overlook one of the most important aspects of the process: you must be both reactive (adapting to new circumstances) and proactive (tailoring your project’s destiny by planning ahead).

By planning ahead and investing in upfront preparation, we can develop a business, product, and technical roadmap for your product’s lifecycle.

This makes it less likely that you’ll make mistakes and more likely to avoid failure when you meet the inevitable but unexpected surprises on the road ahead.

Don’t risk flying blind. Instead, plan ahead.

While neglecting details leads to avoidable mistakes, planning makes it easier to get people on board from the start and lets you improve your processes as much as possible over time.

And this is why I created Truth Shield: to help you succeed!

Click here to get in touch or for more information about how Truth Shield can help boost your software production success!