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Are Development Times Actually Getting Slower?

Are Enterprise Development Times Getting Slower?

Learn more about the many ways no-code can help your enterprise speed up development times and push past the competition. 

When it comes to software development, you might think newer technologies always yield faster performance—this was certainly the case between the 1980s and the turn of the 21st century. It took an average of 18,019 hours to develop an application in the eighties, but by the aughts that number was down to just 8,919 hours. This acceleration in development time makes sense considering the great progress made in software development during those 20 years. 

However, these improvements didn’t last. Studies have found that in the 2010s, it took developers 20% longer on average to complete an enterprise application project (and this is despite the popularization of higher-level programming languages like Python and increased use of low-code platforms) than it did in the previous decade. What took 8,919 worker hours to complete 20 years ago now takes 10,500 hours. What happened?

Studies have found that in the 2010s, it took developers 20% longer on average to complete an enterprise application project... than it did in the previous decade.

Why Are Development Times Getting Slower?

The answer to this question lies in the fact that “advanced” application development is not synonymous with “optimized” application development. Here are four key drivers that are limiting developer productivity: 

1. Complexity 

In today’s digital landscape, a well-designed application does not exist in a vacuum. It must “play nice” within an expansive digital business ecosystem. Integrations are the best way to accommodate many different vendors and unlock product offerings without creating a disjointed customer service experience, and they also help manage the increased complexity of additional application capabilities. 

With traditional code, developers must invest hours into ensuring a system seamlessly integrates with legacy internal systems as well as external third-party solutions. You can move marginally faster on low-code platforms by using a blend of modern integrations and custom code, but developers will still have to spend valuable time coding critical systems. By the time your integrations have been checked and double-checked, your large-scale IT project could already be months behind schedule.

2. Legacy Code

In order to implement new technologies, developers must work around legacy code bases, which may be years or even decades old. Unfortunately, there’s no quick and easy way to accomplish this—deadlines are usually long gone by the time you find out how existing systems work, dissect the old code, and create new workarounds or rewrite the code completely.

When legacy code goes unchecked for long periods of time, it snowballs into “Big Code” that can overwhelm your system and your developers. Due to general increases in code size, individual enterprises are faced with more code than ever before (consider that Linux 1.0, released in 1994, contained only 176,250 lines of code whereas Linux today contains 28 million lines of code). Studies show 51% of IT managers report having more than 100x the volume of code than they did a decade ago, with 18% reporting a 500x increase. 

Large amounts of code require large amounts of monitoring, and the sheer size of modern codebases makes it nearly impossible to manage properly. Instead of building new applications, software developers spend an outsized amount of their time debugging code—once an issue is successfully fixed, another one needs to be addressed right away. This never-ending cycle stunts innovation and brings development to a standstill, preventing your organization from successfully competing in the crowded IT marketplace. 

Studies show 51% of IT managers report having more than 100x the volume of code than they did a decade ago, with 18% reporting a 500x increase. 

3. Technical Debt

Maintaining legacy code also slows down development times by contributing to technical debt. Technical debt occurs when enterprises settle for stop-gap solutions that get them through the day instead of investing in solutions that resolve issues in the long run. These short-term solutions can seem beneficial, but you’ll inevitably pay the price for these solutions plus interest. That’s why we call it technical debt.

A reasonable amount of technical debt is an expected cost of innovation. However, because problems in code often appear faster than they are addressed, technical debt with code-based platforms can quickly get out of hand. Each time your developers make additions to a codebase that already isn’t working, the bugs and glitches become harder to fix, and technical debt compounds. The most effective (and extreme) way to pay down technical debt is to completely stop application development and focus on fixing the underlying code, but that’s just not realistic—the opportunity costs are too high. As a result, it can take development teams years to make a dent in their technical debt and get back up to speed. 

4. Scarce IT Talent

Unfortunately, good help is becoming increasingly hard to find in enterprise tech. The volume of qualified graduates coming from cybersecurity programs grew by 40% between 2013 and 2017, but the number of posts calling for cybersecurity proficiency jumped 94%. There simply isn’t enough formally trained tech talent to go around. 

Also, it’s nearly impossible to find talent for older legacy systems that rely on coding languages like COBOL, and this talent pool will continue to shrink as these skilled programmers reach retirement age. The overall talent shortage combined with the fact that many of today’s younger programmers bypass programming languages altogether in favor of more modern tools, means recruiting for your next app can slow your development times down before they even begin.

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Moving At The Speed of No-Code

Development times are getting slower, but only if you build with code. The best way to mitigate the pain points listed above and kick development times back into high gear is to eliminate code altogether. With no-code platforms like Unqork, you can leverage the latest technologies and build sophisticated applications without compromising development times.

No-code makes it possible for expert and non-expert programmers alike to build enterprise-grade applications without writing a single line of code. Visual interfaces, pre-made templates, and intuitive self-service builders make it easier and faster than ever before to bring your ideas to life. These fully functional visual opportunities save you from countless hours of debugging large codebases and make room for you to hire creative thinkers and problem-solvers who will push your enterprise forward. Plus, Unqork’s dedicated team takes care of all critical security and back-end decisions for you, enabling you to stay focused on business logic. 

With Unqork, you can keep your legacy technologies around for a while without compromising your app’s functionality or slowing down development times. Hook into any legacy file format, configure APIs using plug-in components, and bring together modern and legacy technologies without scripting. This can shave hours off the development process and help you allocate precious time for more vital purposes. No legacy code also means no legacy maintenance, which also helps reduce technical debt.

With these features, building your app on Unqork’s no-code platform helps you beat the clock. In fact, your app could be ready to launch in a matter of weeks or even days.

To learn more about how no-code can help you achieve optimal development speeds, sign up for the Unqork newsletter and schedule a personalized demonstration with one of our in-house experts today.