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Is There a Role for Blockchain Technology in Software Development?

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Summary: The blog explores the potential of blockchain in software development but concludes that, currently, it is not a cost-effective or practical solution. Instead, the focus should be on established methodologies, collaborative teams, and the right tools to achieve effective software development outcomes.

Perhaps no other computer term is more explicit than blockchain. It is a network of data blocks that are linked together to form a chain of immutable records. Blockchain is essentially a distributed ledger that makes it impossible to alter the history of digital assets. This provides a high level of transparency, but also security, since data cannot be altered in any way, and is encrypted.

What makes blockchain so powerful is its decentralization. There is no one company that manages the chain, but it is a network of distributed entities each with its own node – all connected to one chain. The nodes are usually individual computers that maintain copies of the chain and keep the network functioning. 

We first started hearing about blockchain when cryptocurrencies like BitCoin and Etherum, were gaining popularity. Despite more recent challenges and failures of cryptocurrency, blockchain seems like a good vehicle for securing visibility and transparency of many types of transactions across teams. Its security makes theft almost impossible, and it eliminates the need for a central or controlling entity. In addition to the most common use case in finance, industries such as healthcare, supply chain, gaming and computer programming are finding new uses for blockchain that have nothing to do with digital currency. They’re using blockchain as a way to share information, manage projects and collaborate in a safe, secure and transparent way, since it essentially creates permanent audit trails, and enables collaboration across teams. The idea is that since blockchain is essentially a chain of blocks made up of data, users can store virtually any piece of digital data they want or need, but more securely than with traditional databases.

Within the software industry, there’s been some speculation that blockchain will eventually enable developers to document and track every part of the software development journey – from initiating a contract, to developing code. It can provide transparency into who executed changes, when and how they did it. The idea is that it could help ensure that everyone involved in the project knows about any changes or updates, and that everyone is on the same page. The expected benefits of blockchain in software development include heightened security, faster project deployment and increased accuracy. 

But Does it Really Make Sense in Software Development?: 

While the role of blockchain in software development could very well be a possibility someday, today, it’s not a  good use of the technology.  It’s quite expensive and requires high compute power and electricity costs. In addition, it’s not easy to modify data or code once it is in the chain.

And then there’s the issue of having ample software developers with expertise in blockchain. According to DevSkiller, blockchain was the fastest-growing in-demand IT skill in 2022, and demand for blockchain programming skills increased by 552 percent in 2022. Yet, there continues to be a shortage of software developers in general, for the time being.

Sticking to Tried and True Methods :

Today, the best way to ensure a more collaborative and transparent approach to software development involves tried and true methodologies, tools and strategies.  Consider some of the following approaches:

Build an Agile team:  Cross-functional teams of software developers can deliver incremental updates to working software by breaking the project into stages to focus on continuous improvement. Some of the most popular approaches to Agile teams are Scrum, eXtreme Programming (XP), Feature Driven Development (FDD), Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM), Adaptive Software Development (ASD), Crystal, and Lean Software Development (LSD). 

Consider the full lifecycle: Often, the best teams are those that address the full lifecycle of software development. From design to prototype, development and delivery, when a seamless team works together, they share a common company culture, methodology approach and can more easily collaborate to ensure all aspects of the project are in accord with the customer’s requirements.

Enable flexibility: While blockchain collaboration may be secure, it’s extremely rigid.  What’s important in effective software development is flexibility. The software development process is an iterative one and priorities and needs can change quickly. Flexible teams are able to respond quickly to changes, and more easily take a new path if needed to make the best software.

Use the right tools: Digital tools can help software development teams focus more on innovation instead of on handling tedious, time—consuming tasks. Automation can help teams, maintain version control, increase productivity and ensure efficient workflow. Project management software can help teams better plan releases, keep projects on track, and monitor stakeholders. 

The real key to effective software development collaboration requires trusted teams, working closely with all customer stakeholders and utilizing the best methodologies and tools to deliver the best results. While blockchain certainly has the potential to revolutionize the finance and payments market, today it’s simply not the best conduit to better software. 

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