9 Ways to Reduce Development Costs Using Reusable Components
Digital businesses today are defined by their ability to deliver apps and experiences fast, consistently, and at scale. But there’s another key factor to consider: Cost.
Software development must show Return on Investment (ROI) in terms of development cost, revenue (either growth or cost savings) and time-to-market. This is true for the entire lifecycle of products, from planning through implementation to maintenance.
However, overall software development costs tend to rise over time.
As an application grows in usage and functionality, the more complex it becomes and more developers are needed to maintain and develop it. And as an organization develops more products and projects, the more it needs to invest in tools to make development efficient and in standardization and consistency across all digital assets.
Because of this, development velocity also tends to decrease as the complexity of the codebase increases. Scaling often requires more engineers to complete similar-sized projects. This equation decreases ROI over time.
Component-driven development can reverse this equation. It can drastically cut down costs and improve return on investment for software and applications development. Component-driven development means that developers can write useful code in components which work like software building blocks.
Adopting a component-driven development platform, such as Bit, simplifies the process of composing projects. Your components become reusable, can be instantly shared between developers and products, are easy to fix and maintain, and you can quickly compose and release new products and features.
Component-driven development means that code-sharing is built natively into your workflow. Everything you build can be used anywhere. It’s not only more efficient and scalable, but also more cost-effective.
Here are 9 ways in which a component-driven approach significantly reduces development costs:
1. Write less code by reusing managed components
Sharing and reusing components across projects instead of rewriting the same code in different places can reduce up to 80% of development time. Teams can compose pre-made components and write only new features instead of rewriting or duplicating the same experiences or features over and over.
Effectively reusing code requires the ability to decouple it from the context of a specific project, and make it easily discoverable and useful by all other teams. This is a big challenge to overcome, with the alternative being to rewrite or duplicate code, resulting in a lot of wasted resources, inconsistencies, and an expensive tech debt.
By providing developers with a central platform to share components (from UI elements to full experiences, features, processes, or backend code) with each other, they can discover and install existing components in the organization, and contribute changes for others to use as well.
Over time, every new component created reduces the development effort going forward. That’s a powerful equation that makes your organization more efficient over time and compounds value for every line of code you write.
2. Deliver faster to market by composing and extending components
When developers have immediate access to all previous code written in the organization, they can dramatically speed up delivery times. Instead of starting every project from scratch, which is time consuming and resource-intensive, they can find and use existing components as the starting point for new products and applications.
Developers can extend components and build on top of what already exists: Instead of writing a new component, they can easily customize and add functionality to existing ones. In order to develop new features, all you have to do is create the delta of new code added without having to rewrite anything.
A component platform can make it easy to release new components fast and update components in all your apps instead of slow releases as you refactor existing projects as a whole or having to write new projects from scratch.
3. Reduce developer time spent on maintenance
It’s much easier to understand and fix a software system that is modular and composed of components. A developer can focus on the specific component that needs to be changed or fixed in a small and specific way, rather than drown in complicated projects that take a long time and effort to understand and fix.
With a component platform, when a component is shared in many projects and applications, it is only maintained once. Meaning, a developer just needs to fix and update the component once, and the change will quickly ripple to every application that uses this component.
It’s also much easier to test smaller components, which helps to increase text coverage for your whole system, and learn exactly what breaks on every change at the component level. This helps save a lot of time and effort for developers, improve user experience and
4. Integrate faster using components
Integrating between different projects and teams is one of the most time consuming processes in a software building organization. To effectively integrate, developers must be able to easily find, understand and use each other’s APIs. But a simple integration of an API or feature from one team to another can be a very long and tedious process that involves weeks of development just on making it work.
When you integrate in components, however, you can significantly speed up and simplify the way teams pick up and use each other’s code and APIs. Components can be used to own the representation of entities in the architecture, allowing others to use them when integrating with services.
This approach improves the developer experience for integration, with local feedback in your IDE, mock data to test against, usage examples, and documentation. At scale, components mean faster integrations, better communication with semantic versions, and discoverability of all entities in the codebase.
Tests have shown that through components, weeks of integration can turn into hours.
5. Improve product planning efficiency
Component-driven software provides complete visibility into the organization’s tech assets, enabling more efficient product planning. Product managers, developers, designers — even the CEO — can use a component platform to easily discover which components their organization already built and use them off-the-shelf to plan new products in a way that maximizes reuse — and reduces development costs.
Existing reusable components make it possible to align product, design, and engineering efforts from the start, and promote a higher-quality product by eliminating the need to revisit past decisions or by having parallel teams make different decisions (and mistakes).
Composing components further improves time-to-market by expediting rapid prototyping, ultimately enhancing the probability of success and reducing the time spent on product development.
6. Better product quality and consistency to improve ROI
Design and functionality vary when components are re-written repeatedly in different places. Users can be confused by these differences and have a harder time navigating and using your applications. Inconsistencies in UI/UX hinder your brand and may even cause users to lose trust and loyalty.
A better, higher-quality experience is delivered to users when components are effectively shared between digital experiences. Additionally, contributing new and updated components back to the rest of the organization dramatically reduces the effort invested in developing and maintaining consistent products.
A result of this is a much better UI/UX consistency across apps and experiences with significantly less effort, improving the return on investment from development.
7. Easier to switch and modernize technology
It’s a constant challenge for R&D organizations to move forward from legacy technologies to new ones. The R&D team has to refactor large monolithic projects from one technology to another, often without releasing anything for a long period, just to change a technology behind a software product. The result is often months of investment without a direct return.
With component-based development, you can gradually add or update existing components for new technologies. Using dedicated tooling (like Bit platform) allows each component to be developed and run using a different tech stack or environment regardless of the application.
The organization can gradually refactor components in order to reduce the upfront investment and the time-to-value when adopting a new technology or removing a legacy technology. Using components, refactoring becomes a rapid, agile process instead of a waterfall process.
8. Faster onboarding for new developers
New hire onboarding is a time-consuming and costly process for organizations. There are the delays before a new developer becomes fully productive, the time spent by senior developers on the onboarding process, and the potential turnover of recent hires. New team members need to learn everything from high-level project architecture to naming conventions, coding standards, and tooling, while documentation is too often incomplete, out-of-date, and inconsistent.
Components make onboarding new developers to the codebase much easier. Using components (and component-level documentation) allows new developers to search for specific code, dive into each piece of functionality in isolation, and visualize dependencies to gain a better understanding of the system as a whole.
A component platform can enable a significantly improved onboarding experience, enabling new hires to become proficient and productive fast, be happier, and create a positive ROI months ahead of time.
9. Efficient outsourcing through greater team autonomy
Outsourcing development can be a powerful force multiplier for a software building organization, enabling cost saving on headcount and associated operational expenses. Outsourcing software development can pose a number of challenges relating to communication, collaboration, monitoring, and integration, potentially causing the delivery to fail to meet your quality standards on time.
By using a component platform teams can be more autonomous, by providing them with ownership over specific business responsibilities while standardizing the development process. As teams serve up components for other developers to create, compose and collaborate, they essentially enable efficient outsourcing of development through pre-made code and design. Transferring knowledge and collaborating becomes easier through components and component-level documentation.
Changing the engineering cost equation at scale — in Your Favor
Faster time to market and better products can result in companies saving millions of dollars and code lines. In practice, however, as a software application grows in usage and functionality, software development costs rise and development velocity decreases. Maintenance and consistency become an uphill battle as applications become more complex.
Sharing and reusing components can flip the equation:
The more components you have, the more you reduce engineering costs going forward.
You no longer have to start from scratch for any project once enough components have been created. Each time you start a project, you start at a higher level. Every component you build today is one less component to build tomorrow.
Once a certain number of components are created, and as developers begin to extend and build on top of them, you start seeing the compounding value — and the costs decreasing.
9 Ways to Reduce Development Costs Using Components was originally published in Bits and Pieces on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.