Despite its huge popularity and usefulness, blockchain has been a challenging experience for many organizations, and countless organizations have discovered – the hard way – how adding blockchain to applications can blow up schedules and spoil time-to-market plans. Building a blockchain application from scratch is one of the most difficult software development challenges, as it requires extensive knowledge and experience.
Blockchain coding and development is challenging and complex, and requires a great deal of understanding, knowledge, and experience. There is an acute shortage of experienced blockchain developers, which is not unlike the situation when Java started to experience high demand and usage. Experience includes not only technical know-how, but also the ability to make better development decisions and avoid mistakes. It also involves understanding the features and applications to make better use of blockchain technology. It takes time to gain this kind of experience and understanding, and for the most part, the widespread familiarity with blockchain development and integration is still in the early stage.
The path of blockchain development and integration can be full of mistakes and wrong turns that can be very costly. Common pitfalls are choosing the wrong blockchain technology for the application or the difficulty of back-end services and infrastructure. Portability and scalability are also big issues. Having to switch blockchain technologies midway through a project costs dearly and almost takes it back to square one.
To minimize these impacts, there are three practices management can help put in place to ensure development schedules are met and costs are contained. The first begins with learning about the difficulties of blockchain development already mentioned here. With this perspective, management needs to treat blockchain development as a priority and allocate appropriate resources to it. In some cases, this may mean hiring a consultant or consulting firm to expedite efforts and, hopefully, avoid mistakes while juggling best practices.
As with other software development tasks, hiring a consultant or advisor is not an instant panacea. Communication difficulties, an “us and them” mentality, cultural incompatibilities, and lack of clear instructions or goals can easily derail productive work in blockchain development. Also, bringing in someone with an insufficient set of experience for a particular job could be another problem. Hiring a consultant may be the right thing, but it may also be the wrong thing to do.
One alternative to an outside consultant or consultant is to use the abstraction tools or platforms that are now available. As it was, and still is, with the development of Java, a good abstraction platform can increase the efforts of in-house developers, making the task of creating or integrating a blockchain much easier and requiring less expertise. Such an approach should solve or reduce portability and scalability issues and provide more or less better options for less experienced developers. In fact, as with Java, it is possible that developers with little or no experience with blockchain will be able to use the blockchain development platform very productively.
The second management practice is to ensure that business goals and objectives are clearly defined before the blockchain development work. How will the blockchain be used? How will its decentralized structure align with its overall IT operations? What are the expectations of customers or users? How will transparency be used in the governance process? Is there sensitivity to speed and latency? Are there regulatory requirements to consider? All of these things must be taken into consideration before development begins.
Third, having a clear understanding of technical standards. As with understanding business standards, this is a “look before you leap” step that prevents or mitigate pitfalls, long delays, and other downstream problems. For example, the revolutionary smart contract features shift blockchain implementation from centralized IT infrastructure to execution by all nodes in a peer-to-peer network. Such a shift has specific implications and challenges for scalability. How can this be overcome?
Another technical question might be how the blockchain can integrate with other aspects of an application or system. Blockchain doesn’t involve business logic or a user interface, for example, so teams need to know how to expose and integrate blockchain technology with other components.
Blockchain offers tremendous capabilities that may bring significant competitive differentiation, increased customer satisfaction, lower operating cost structures, and other strategic benefits. At the same time, many blockchain projects never made it to light. It’s not just projects and apps. Startups have seen their demise due to blockchain bugs. With the development of the blockchain, both opportunity and risk exist. Attention to these three management principles will increase the former and help prevent the latter.