Software developers share common challenges, regardless of the size of your team. Businesses require a high degree of accountability; software has to be developed in the least amount of time with no room for failure. Some of these challenges include the following:
Integration problems. Prior to Team System, most of the tools you commonly use to operate software development teams come from third-party vendors. Integrating these tools is a big challenge—in many cases, to make it all work you have to repeatedly copy project data into different software packages. Each application has a learning curve, and transmitting information from one application to another incompatible application can be frustrating and time-consuming.
Geographically distributed teams. Many development and management tools don't scale for geographically distributed teams. Getting accurate reporting can be difficult, and there is often poor support for communication and collaborative tools. As a result, requirements and specifications can be mapped incorrectly, causing delays and introducing errors. Global teams require solid design, process, and software configuration management all integrated in one. There aren't many software packages that can deliver all of these features, and those that do exist tend to be inordinately expensive.
Segmentation of roles. Specialization can be a huge problem on a team. Experts can assume that other departments are aware of information, which doesn't end up in the status reports but may greatly affect the project as a whole. Interdepartmental communications is a huge and prevalent problem.
Bad reporting. This is an offshoot of the segmentation problem. In most cases, reports need to be generated manually by each team, which results in a lack of productivity. There aren't any effective tools that can aggregate all the data from multiple sources. As a result, the project lead lacks the essential data to make effective decisions.
Lack of process guidance. Ad hoc programming styles simply don't scale. If you introduce an off-cycle change to the code, it can cascade into a serious problem requiring hours and days of work. Today's software has a high level of dependencies. Unfortunately, most tools don't incorporate or enforce process guidance. This can result in an impedance mismatch between tools and process.
Testing as a second-class citizen. Shorter cycles and lack of testing can introduce code defects late in the process. There aren't many integrated tools for testers for Visual Studio.
Communication problems. Most companies use a variety of communication methods, such as e-mail, messengers, memos, and sticky notes, to send information to team members. You can easily lose a piece of paper or delete an important e-mail message if you are not careful. There aren't many centralized systems for managing team communication. Frequent and time-consuming status meetings are required to keep the team on track, and many manual processes are introduced (such as sending e-mail and cutting and pasting reports). Fundamentally, the problem is that there is no communication between the tools and the project leads.
Companies introduce methodologies and practices to simplify and organize the software design process, but these methodologies need to be balanced. The goal is to make the process predictable, because in a predictable environment, methodologies keep projects on track. Conversely, methodologies add tasks to the process, such as generating reports. If your developers spend too much time doing these tasks, they'll be less productive, and your company won't be able to react competitively.