App Developers Are Spending Too Much Time on Upkeep

Traditional app development processes don’t offer engineering teams the speed and agility required to innovate in today’s landscape.

Software Development

On average, nearly 345,000 mobile applications are released to the Apple iOS App Store each year, over one million to the Google Play Store for Android, and a similarly large number of web applications are released. This means that there is great competition among companies to differentiate their applications from others on the market as well as keep pace with customer demand. As a result, companies must accelerate their web and mobile application development.

However, despite this need to remain competitive, traditional web and mobile application development processes don’t offer engineering teams the speed and agility required to innovate in today’s landscape. In many cases, development processes to release new features can take months or even an entire year. This makes traditional application development unsustainable for companies in the long run.

The Growing Number of Application Integrations Is Problematic

Traditional development includes a great deal of repetitive work and continuous upkeep. According to recent research, application development leaders reported that their engineering teams are spending more than 40% of their time on maintenance. And, on top of that, nearly 60% reported that their teams’ workloads are growing. Not only are engineering teams responsible for the maintenance of the features and functionality unique to their application, but they are also responsible for maintaining the numerous integrations it has.

The average application has 110 third-party integrations, meaning applications must be brought up to date each time a third party makes just a slight or major change to their technology. These updates and changes can include operating system or hardware upgrades, changes made by cloud providers, SaaS providers and/or security enhancements.

To put this into perspective, here are a few examples:

      • Payments: Look at any popular retail application on the market today, and there will be multiple methods of payment the end-user can choose from – Apple Pay, Google Pay, Amazon Pay, Stripe, or Paypal. Each of these payment methods comes with their own unique maintenance requirements.
      • IoT: For IoT applications, there can be countless devices, cloud services, and data storage components required to make them function. In a smart home IoT context, hardware alone can include dozens of options for lightbulbs, thermostats, switches, and more. If any of these pieces of hardware are upgraded, the application must be as well.
      • Operating Systems: For mobile applications, there are two major operating systems that must be considered – iOS and Android. Each time new versions of these systems are released, which is almost monthly, applications – and likely their integrations – must be updated. In fact, iOS 16 was updated 14 times since its release in September 2022.

These integrations and the associated maintenance required add up, placing a great burden on engineering teams to ensure their applications continue to work, are compliant, and provide value to end-users.

However, this is one of many challenges engineering teams face that hinder their ability to innovate. They must continually address technical debt.

The Urge to Use Low-Code/No-Code Generates Technical Debt 

To make up for the constant upkeep of applications, give engineering teams more time for innovation, and accelerate timelines, many companies turn to software tools. These include low-code or no-code platforms that provide out-of-the-box options that can easily address certain areas of development.

While low-code/no-code tools are helpful in specific instances – like when a company is small and doesn’t have the engineering resources – they end up being a quick band-aid. In many cases, they can end up costing companies more money and resources over time by way of technical debt. In fact, research from Stripe revealed that developers spend 13.5 hours a week specifically addressing technical debt. That equates to one-third of their work week.

Because the workaround code provided by low-code/no-code tools cannot be easily changed, engineering teams must dedicate a greater amount of development hours to addressing code issues that arise.

Between the burden of this technical debt and maintenance, as previously mentioned, application development has become a grueling and tedious task for engineering teams. There must be a better way to address these tasks as well as carve out time for innovation.

The Solution Is Pro-Code 

There is a solution to the challenges engineering teams face in application development: pro-code.

While this contradicts a lot of what is out there today in the technology industry, pro-code gives engineering teams complete control over their code. That means they can adjust the code as needed to address updates, scale their applications, and innovate the way they want to without vendor lock-ins.

And, what’s more, there are technologies available now that support pro-code development styles and processes, like Features-as-a-Service (FaaS). These technologies remove the need for maintenance in relation to specific features, functionality, and UI/UX as that is handled by the provider supplying them. They also provide complete licensed source code to engineering teams that they can update as they see fit. This removes vendor lock-ins and can limit the accrual of technical debt.

The time is now for companies and engineering teams today to consider pro-code development styles and processes. As the competition continues to grow in the application space, as evidenced by how many applications are released each year, companies and engineering teams must address the burden of maintenance and technical debt. Otherwise, innovation will always be sacrificed – and we all know innovation is critical to business success.


A seasoned technology executive and entrepreneur, Shiva Nathan draws upon his experience as a software innovator to empower businesses to reach their mobile-first digital goals. He currently serves as the Founder and CEO of Onymos, creator of the world’s first Features-as-a-Service platform. As the former head of Intuit’s Platform & Services organization, his organization defined the cloud-hosted services-based unified technology platform that Intuit’s line of products like TurboTax and Quickbooks leveraged. He has also held technical and leadership positions at Oracle and CA. He understands what it takes to build robust, powerful apps that serve a broad customer base—and how to avoid the roadblocks that can get in the way.