Director at Ipswich-based IJYI reflects on the changing face of software development

The IJYI team at their new office on Princes Street in Ipswich

The IJYI team at their new office on Princes Street in Ipswich - Credit: Archant

The ubiquity of computers means virtually everyone interacts with software in their day-to-day life.

Far fewer of us, however, know much about the process by which software is created and refined for use.

For an insight into this mysterious world, the uninitiated could do far worse than talk to Chris Pont, co-founder of East Anglian EADT/EDP Future50 company IJYI, a software development firm that due to an expanding workforce moved into new offices on Princes Street in Ipswich in August.

Recent projects include the creation of a website for an investment bank to enable clients to securely log-in and view their portfolio, and an online service for a heavy machinery manufacturer that allows customers to receive quotes for new parts.

These are complex systems and Chris says the way software is now built has changed from how it used to be done.

Traditionally, he says, software was created using what is known as the ‘waterfall model’ - where progress would trickle in one direction (like a waterfall) through the phases of analysis, design, construction, testing and deployment.

This was a long drawn-out process where developers might go away for months at a time to build the software before presenting it to the client.

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“The problem with this methodology is that by the time the client saw the software, the market might have changed or the client’s requirements may have shifted ” said Chris.

Today, however, the approach to software development taken by the team at IJYI is to break down the work into smaller chunks.

“We prioritise the work into two week sprints and each fortnight deliver something usable to the client,” continued Chris.

“We hold ten minute meetings each day which the client can join - it means the customer is better informed and can change their mind about things as we go along. They also get a quicker return on investment as they can go live quicker.”

This modus operandi also means software developers have had to learn new skills, according to Chris

“Software development used to be just about writing code but now developers have to take more responsibility: demonstrating to clients, planning phases of work and deploying quickly.”