10 Ways to Improve Your MedTech Software Development Process
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Thinking of new ways to improve the software development process in your company? Do you feel like you’re working on the same things again and again? MedTech is a fast-paced industry, and it can be tough to keep up with all the changes. It can also be challenging to tackle new challenges when you’re working under tight time constraints.
The software development process has many components, but they generally involve creating a user story or use case document, creating detailed specifications, building prototypes and testing them with users. Each of these steps has its own challenges, but there are always new ways to optimize them. Here are 10 ideas to help improve your MedTech software development process:
Create user stories before you build
User stories are a key part of many software development processes, so it’s important that your team starts with this documentation. The user story describes the user’s problem, desired outcome, and who would be using the product. The goal of the user story is to get all the details about the user’s needs and functionalities of the product written down and available for review. If you write the user story before you start building, you won’t end up with a solution that doesn’t meet the user’s needs. If you’re using agile as your development process, you may want to include the user story in each sprint, or you can put it on a backlog to be completed at a later date.
Define clear success metrics before building anything
It’s important to define the criteria of success before you start building anything. For example, let’s say you’re building a new software to process insurance claims. You’ve already identified that users are experiencing issues with their current workflow. You’ve also defined the user stories and created a prototype. Now it’s time to test that prototype with users in your target audience. Take copious notes during these usability tests, and look at metrics like time on task, accuracy, and frustration levels. Once you’ve collected the data, you can use it to determine whether or not your prototype needs to be changed or if you should scrap the idea all together.
Set predictable cycle times for your development process
In any given software development process, you’ll want to include a section for each phase. Ideally, you want each phase to take about the same amount of time, so that you can predict when you’ll finish each phase. Given the variance in difficulty between each phase, you may want to add a buffer to your estimates. For example, if you want to finish writing the code for a new feature in two weeks, but it usually takes around three weeks, add a week to the end to account for any potential issues that could arise. When you’re setting the expectations, be transparent about why you’re adding the time buffers. Doing this will allow you to be more accurate with your estimates down the road.
Have a small team always working on the product backlog
If you have a backlog of features, and there are multiple teams working on different features, you may have issues with prioritization. Especially when you have a large backlog of user stories, you may find that team leads can’t agree on which features to build next. Additionally, team leads may be using their own personal bias to decide what to build, leading to a disjointed product. To address this issue, have a small team of product owners work on the backlog. This way, the product owners can weigh the needs of the product against the other priorities and find a happy medium.
Use the product owner to recruit testers and users
As the product owner, you’ve been building the product and are familiar with the needs and wants of your customers. You’ve probably heard from customers directly or from other stakeholders. Your team members likely don’t have this level of familiarity with the customers. To address this, you can use the product owner to recruit testers and users. You can have the product owner create a Google form where people can sign up to be interviewed by the product owner. This way, you can get objective feedback from real users.
Don’t rely on big requirements up front
Before you get started building, you may be asked to create a very detailed document describing exactly what you plan on building. While these documents are helpful in some circumstances, they can also be detrimental to the overall software development process if they’re too long or detailed.
One example of this is the agile requirements document. This document is meant to be a high-level overview of the product, but it can often become too long and detailed. The best way to avoid this problem is to use short sentences, bullet points, and diagrams for visual clarity. This will help you avoid getting carried away with the requirements document, and it will help you communicate more effectively with your team members and stakeholders.
Automate your testing and have dedicated testers
There’s nothing more frustrating than having to manually test software that you’ve spent months or even years writing. It often feels like your progress is going in circles and getting nowhere. Automating your testing can help you find issues quickly, so you can correct them before releasing the software to your customers.
While you do want to find issues as soon as possible, different issues should be prioritized based on the overall impact on the customer. For example, if the software is crashing, it’s a huge deal. If the software is just taking a bit too long to load, it’s not as serious. If you have a dedicated testing team, you can easily prioritize issues according to severity. You can also create acceptance criteria so your testers know what to look for while testing.
Commit to constant measurement and continuous improvement
As you finish one software development process and begin a new one, you may be tempted to ignore the old project. However, it’s important to look at the data you gathered, review your process and make changes where they’re needed. If you allow your software development process to stagnate, your company will suffer. Customers will be unhappy, and your employees will be unengaged. If you commit to constant measurement and continuous improvement, you can avoid these problems.