Computer Floppy Disks Computer Floppy Disks
Image courtesy of nuttakit and Free Digital Photos

As a hardware or software developer, there are a number of ways to improve your products and lower your risk. Your customer risks losing time and money on a defective product. They risk that any data or personal information they entrusted to you will be misused, lost, stolen, sold, or otherwise ending up in the wrong hands. You risk negative reviews that can destroy your business, data breaches, and liability for your customer’s losses. These are not all of the risks either party could face. But they give you a good idea of what is at stake. Here are 5 ways to reduce those risks:

Do Better Testing

The weakest link in any product is usually the testing. It is impossible for a company, even one the size of Apple, to test all of the configurations and all of the scenarios in which those configurations can be used. In an acknowledgement of that reality, Apple is starting to open up the testing process to the public with a public beta program that includes iOS and OS X.

As a small operation, you are not going to get millions of people to hammer away at your product looking for bugs. You need a professional testing process for software quality assurance. If your software is mission critical, your testing process should:

  • Automate up to 95% of your test cases
  • Cut your testing time from weeks to days
  • Define test cases independently of technology
  • Simulate Real System Environments

The absolute best way to improve your products while lowering risk is to test like a pro. BETA sign
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles and Free Digital

Take More Time

People of a certain age grew up with this sage advice: Haste makes waste. Also, Brush your teeth twice a day. While I cannot speak to the ADA approved number of times one should brush their teeth per day, I can personally attest to the first one. Rushing through a task is a great way to insure that it gets done poorly. Put into today’s parlance, speed kills.

Software developers often get caught up in a competitive race to be first to ship, or at least, announce before their competition. This usually just results in poor software or hardware. The customer will not thank you for being first to the market. They will reward the one who does it right, not first.

Eat Your Own Dog Food

Product testing is one thing. Using your product as if you were the consumer is quite another. The tech industry calls this dog fooding. And it applies to everything. A Coke exec should not be drinking Pepsi. A Walmart exec should not be shopping at Target. And a Google exec should not be using a Blackberry. One of the reasons products are not the best they can be is because the makers of products don’t have to use the products they sell.

Reduce Your Dependency on Advertising Revenue

Web and app developers are drunk with advertising revenue. Every square inch of the page has to be covered with ads. Scroll away from the ad, and it slides down the screen, growing even bigger. Launch a website, and an ad takes over the page. Want to view the comment section, you have to run the gauntlet of ads between you and your goal. Many apps are the same way.

These ad-infested sites use products like Flash: the bane of security, stability, and usability. Everybody knows it. Yet we can’t stop using it. The ads, and technologies that undergird them are usually the vector for attack. Customer information leaks through the ads, and security and stability are hopelessly compromised. Put down the ads and sober up.

Don’t Collect Unnecessary Information

Finally, the best way to keep user information safe is not to collect it in the first place. If you don’t need the user’s name, email and physical address, phone number, etc…, then stop collecting it. Hackers can’t get at what you don’t have.

As you can see, improving your products and lowering your risk are not two different things. They are the same thing. Do one, and you are well on your way to doing the other. Oh, and brush your teeth at least twice a day.