4 Ways that 2021 Will Differ from 2020 for Software Developers

Businesses are getting serious about their mobile deployment’s health and reliability and demanding more from developers.


Doing business during the pandemic proved that your clients need more flexibility than on-premises systems can provide. James Smith, CEO at Bugsnag, points out that these changes in your market will also mean changes for your business. Here are four key areas of your business that will need to adapt in 2021.

1The extreme reliance on all things digital due to COVID-19 makes application health a key area of focus.

COVID-19 has accelerated the need for a mobile-first strategy, and enterprises are prioritizing the health of their mobile applications to meet customer expectations. To do so, they are leveraging stability management tools that enable organizations with actionable insights about releases and make data-driven decisions about fixing bugs vs. building features.

In the coming year, more businesses will take this a step further by measuring additional metrics, such as crashes, app freezes and memory leaks. These variables impact the customer’s digital experience, which ultimately drives an organization’s top line. While organizations realize that a more holistic approach is required for monitoring software in the application delivery lifecycle, focusing on metrics and KPIs across releases, features, and A/B tests to improve app health will take hold in 2021. Engineering teams will begin to adopt the same 99.999 percent, or “five nines,” industry target for app stability that most IT infrastructure organizations adhere to in order to meet increased customer expectations.

2QA is dead – long live quality! 

The adoption of continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) practices has set the foundation for the emergence of modern quality engineering (QE). If you look at a typical schema for the software development life cycle (SDLC), it does not offer visibility into the production side. Organizations tend to fly blind once they’re in production because CI/CD tools live almost entirely on the left-hand side — the pre-production side. But the right-hand side — the production side — is where customers are using it. On that side, you need stability management tools and software health monitoring to implement testing in production.

Although gradually gaining ground, mid-sized and large software developers have yet to instrument testing in production correctly to achieve rapid iteration. While apps are being released to customers more frequently due to growing pressure for new versions and new additional features, there is a desire to launch timely releases with minimal bugs. Implementing strategies such as A/B testing and phased rollouts (where you give your software to a subset of your customer base to see how it performs) will help mitigate risks and deliver a quality experience to customers.

Stability insights from such an approach can also help inform future rollouts and help create feedback loops between pre-production and production. As such, in 2021, we will see QE budgets align with testing in production strategies, and stability will serve as the data-driven layer across the entire application lifecycle.

3As mobile, desktop and browser app development increases, engineering KPIs become key metrics for the boardroom.

Engineering KPIs, such as app stability, traditionally never made their way to the C-suite. This is going to change in 2021. Today, more consumers and employees are using B2C and B2B apps than ever before. As a result, the app experience (including mobile, desktop and browser) has become critically important for enterprises.

Users can’t stand when an app stalls or crashes, and one bad experience can lose a customer forever. Engineering KPIs like app stability have a significant effect on customer conversion rates, average purchase values, engagement, loyalty and other metrics, all of which impact general business outcomes. Engineering and Product executives are now realizing how significantly their apps drive revenue and shape brand reputation. In 2021, we’ll see leadership teams standardizing on engineering KPIs like app stability, which gauge the app’s overall health and the customer and digital transformation experience.

4Error monitoring drives code ownership.

Most major applications have a wide variety of engineers, including separate engineering teams, working from a single code base. When something goes wrong, all the engineers and engineering teams are alerted about the bug. From there, they have to figure where the bug occurred and who is specifically responsible for fixing it. This is a cumbersome and inefficient undertaking that slows the process of repairing apps. And as software engineering teams grow, the problem only worsens as it gets harder to fix bugs properly and maintain app stability.

The emerging concept of code ownership introduces a quicker and easier approach. With this method, organizations create code owner files to determine which engineers or teams are responsible for each section of code or feature flags or experiments. If section X of a code fails, then team X will address it. This makes it much easier to respond to application issues and assign the correct developer resources to remedy those issues. This means that malfunctioning apps will be fixed quicker for end users, improving customer experience and boosting business metrics. From an internal POV, engineering teams become far more cost- and time-efficient, freeing software developers to take on new projects.

Time for Change

Challenges that your team faced before the shift to mobile-first strategies among your users will only be magnified now that more businesses are advancing their IT roadmaps to have greater flexibility and business continuity.

Is your team ready to meet their demands?

Bernadette Wilson

Bernadette Wilson, a DevPro Journal contributor, has 19 years of experience as a journalist, writer, editor, and B2B marketer.

Bernadette Wilson

Bernadette Wilson, a DevPro Journal contributor, has 19 years of experience as a journalist, writer, editor, and B2B marketer.