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2013 was a busy year for software development, with more organizations scrambling to address the burgeoning bring-your-own-device movement and supply mobile employees with high-quality enterprise apps. The industry also saw one of its most high-profile failures in recent memory during the government's troubled HealthCare.gov rollout. Between the successes and stumbles, there have been many opportunities for IT teams to glean a little insight into software development best practices and how they can better positions themselves to meet the challenges of 2014.

Agile development is not always so
One of the most pervasive trends within the software development community has been the move from traditional waterfall processes to an Agile methodology. This approach presents a lot of tantalizing performance benefits, including the increased capacity to code, test and release programs within a shorter amount of time. However, many organizational leaders – including some of the decision makers behind the HeatlhCare.gov fiasco – tend to pay lip service to this concept and then revert back to waterfall measures once the ball gets rolling.

Matthew Heusser wrote in CIO that the team on that project was not given enough time to adequately test it for flaws and ensure it would be able to keep up with user demands. In this instance, the ostensibly Agile production was really a waterfall operation at its core, putting off extensive testing until the end of the development process.

Establish measured expectations
When the HealthCare.gov team neared its launch date, it became abundantly clear that there was no time to extensively test the website. However, the project was locked into that release time, resulting in a deeply flawed product being presented to end users. Numerous poor choices were made during HealthCare.gov's development process, but perhaps none were as instrumental in the site's failure as the decision to establish a launch date and rigidly adhere to it. Organizational leaders must understand that IT members are not miracle workers and may not be always be able to deliver a high-quality product under tight release windows. VentureBeat contributor Himanshu Sareen predicted that more private sector executives will take heed of the public relations crisis that erupted following HealthCare.gov's release and take care to ensure launches occur more smoothly.

Gamification software tools expand
In 2013, the concept of gamification firmly took hold among many enterprise users. This concept involves taking many of the principles from game development, which encourage players to continue striving to improve and advance, and apply them to a business environment. When executed properly gamification initiatives can light a fire under staff members and elicit more productivity from them. With the increased use of mobile devices in the workplace, organizational leaders have an ideal method for deploying new gamified applications to improve employee efficiency.

Making the most of the latest trends in software development is not always an easy task for IT teams. They may lack expertise in certain areas of development, creating blind spots that prevent them from successfully implementing specific solutions. Business leaders can offset these weaknesses by turning to a quality consultant to help IT members learn the ropes as well as guide new projects to completion. From Agile development to iOS optimization, an experienced consultant can overcome existing challenges and assist in the production of impactful software tools.