We often have misconceptions about things we may not truly understand.

It’s really not such a long time since the first programming language was invented; with Fortran in 1957, and the World Wide Web is only 25 years old. Software programming is still seen as a bit of a black art to most people, making them wary of new technology. And there are myths preventing us from fully understanding how business processes can be automated or improved by efficient computer programming, which can lead to substantial time and cost savings as well as greater profits.

Let’s consider just a few of these myths that should be challenged in the interests of improving business efficiency.

Myth 1: Software development is too expensive.

This is perhaps the most popular myth concerning software development. Because of this type of thinking, many businesses don’t take advantage of the potential that custom software can provide to improve efficiency of their organisation. Often they instead end up purchasing off-the-shelf products which may not fit their requirements, or that need work-arounds to make them fit.

Using generic software can represent a lost investment, if the company either outgrows the software or finds that it is not sufficient for their needs. There may well also be hidden costs like upgrade fees, support costs, licensing and more. In addition, you may find that you need to change your business processes in order to match the generic software functionality – not to mention the risk of obsolescence. All these factors considered, a custom solution might actually be much better value in the long run.

Myth 2: Custom software means too much overhead.

Another common misunderstanding is that developing proprietary software will steal too much of your internal teams’ time. However, the truth is that you hand the work over to a professional software company – while you carry on with running your business. There will of course be some need for interaction in terms of consultation and approval, but this is no different than for any conventional business development plans that require sub-contracting specialist services, like builders or engineering installations. You may even find that your business benefits from the engagement with an external force, simply by reviewing the internal work procedures and perhaps discovering ways to improve efficiency.

Myth 3: Adding more developers to a software project will make it go faster.

Often when schedules slip, businesses respond by simply adding more people. The problem with doing this is that it often becomes counterproductive. It’s not just a case of putting more hands to work, but the team leaders must give each participant a grasp of the overall project and their part in it. This means there is a significant communications overhead which may distract key workers to teach the newcomers instead of being productive writing code. In fact, this theory was debunked in 1975 by Frederick P. Brooks in his compendium of essays “The Mythical Man-Month”.

Myth 4: Software is flexible and change is easily accommodated.

Software can, of course, be changed. Some basic changes can be implemented easily, while others may have effects that ripple through the entire system – which then may need extensive testing and debugging. The crucial point is to have a thoroughly detailed assessment and an accurate description of the customer’s requirements in the first place.

Myth 5: Users will automatically know how to use the software.

There is a typical misconception that all good software is instantly intuitive. Users should immediately know where to find all the functionality they need, and quickly learn to master it. However, there is no universal way of creating software that is instantly grasped by every user. In many ways, there is a real benefit to having follow-up services, such as training and documentation. It will help the user to fully understand the application, while also providing an opportunity for the developers to learn from the user obstacles and questions, in order to make the software better and easier to use.

Myth 6: Code geeks don’t understand business needs.

This might have been the case in the infancy of software development, but today’s programming professionals are highly trained and experienced and most likely have worked on many types of business models throughout their career. They’ve probably seen your type of problems before and solved them many times over. They may have operated within companies like yours or even run their own businesses. The software world is process-based and, ultimately, so is any efficient business. It follows a logical flow. A modern programmer is focused on getting machines to do the hard work for you, rather than fawning over new technology just for its own sake.