What Does A Software Developer Do?

What Does A Software Developer Do?

Software developers are responsible for designing the computer programmes and operating systems that we use in everyday life. From word processors, games and websites, software developers are the people that design these systems so we can use them easily and more efficiently.

Software developers will work with a company to:

  • Identify a challenge which requires a computer programme
  • Design the programme and say how it should look and feel for the end user
  • Liaise with a programmer who will write the code
  • Test the final product before it is passed to the customer for use
  • On an ongoing basis may be responsible for providing regular software updates and maintenance checks too

Demand for Software Developers

Now is an excellent time to get into software development. As more aspects of our lives become reliant on computer software, there is an ever growing demand for software developers.

In some parts of the world, the actual number of software developer vacancies are expected to rise by up to 30% by the year 2020, according to Computerworld.

Furthermore, the demand for software developers means that there is upward pressure on software developer salaries, and many UK businesses are forced to try and find suitable candidates from all over the world to fill positions.

Importance of software development in business and specialist staff

The software that companies utilise to manage their business operations is becoming more of a source of competitive advantage. The ability to be able to analyse significant amounts of data quickly and efficiently to provide the business with information and management systems can save time and help spot sales opportunities. For some sectors, this type of software is integral to operations.

Take financial services for example. In the financial services industry and investment banking industry, in particular, systems are required to analyse data in an efficient and time-sensitive manner to allow traders to make important decisions quickly. The software is clearly a source of a competitive advantage here, and many banks choose to outsource the provision of such software to specialist agencies in the field, this allows them to remain ahead of the competition.

Across many industries candidates who develop a niche in understanding the importance of software for a particular sector will find that such skills are in high demand.

Day to day role of a Software Developer

The software developer has many duties integral to the function of their role, these include:

From the client perspective, the software developer will meet with customers to analyse their needs and understand exactly what the software needs to do. 

Once the criteria are identified, then the software developer will get to work on designing the software, this will include developing various components of the software and getting them to work together. As part of this process, the developer will generate different models of how the software will work and look.

The software developer will liaise with numerous people in the development of the product. Once they have created the design, they will pass responsibility to programmers who will then start to write the codes which allow the software to function. The software developer will effectively project manage the process communicating with clients and other key stakeholders as necessary.

In the final stages, software developers will then support the company when integrating the software into a business. After that, they will provide ongoing management support and recommend system updates while ensuring that the programmes are still usable while maintenance work is taking place.

Typical challenges of a Software Developer

Software developers can encounter numerous problems and difficulties in their jobs, here are three of the main challenges:

  1. Communication. The software developer is central to ensuring that projects are completed on time and requires the input of several stakeholders. Problems arise when key people struggle to communicate effectively.
  2. Technical. Software developers will have some programming capability however as the industry is consistently changing the modern codes today may not necessarily be the same as those used tomorrow. The software developer will be required to keep ahead of the game and identify the appropriate technology for any system.
  3. Operational. As well as the communication, dealing with technical information, generating creative ideas for new software, maintaining operations, faults and meeting clients to discuss the software developer has to do all this within set time frames while managing conflicting interests, this in itself is a key challenge.

How Software Developers tackle challenges

To meet all the challenges, they face software developers need a broad range of managerial and technical skills. They require communication, customer service and interpersonal skills to liaise with various stakeholders.

To complete software packages on time and within set budgets, they need project management, time management and resource allocation skills.

Finally, the actual job of designing innovative and functional software for a range of clients requires creative flair, the ability to think logically and problem solve on a regular basis.

Tips for advancing in a software development job

As a software developer in the early stages of your career, much of your role will be focussed on the design, maintenance and implementation of technology.

As the career develops, you will move away from many of the day to day aspects towards project management and strategic roles. 3 Tips to grow into such positions would include:

  1. Take opportunities to develop your communication and client facing skills. The ability to manage such relationships are vital throughout the career.
  2. Although you will not be able to develop in-depth skills for all technical aspects of software development it is important you have at least an understanding of the various parts to manage projects effectively.
  3. Regarding project management, there are methodologies which would prove useful such as Agile, Scrum and Waterfall. Exposure to all of these would support your career development.