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  • Challenges in developing service management software

Corina Stratan 02 March 2015Tags: Development, English

Challenges in developing service management software

Corina tells about the challenges within TOPdesk developmentWhen I started to work at TOPdesk I came from a different background and was curious what it was like to build service management software. Enterprise software in general doesn't have a great reputation, and to many people it sounds less appealing than the cutting-edge apps we all use nowadays, or working on a difficult scientific challenge, for example. However, since I came here, I found something different than the old-fashioned image I had in mind.

At TOPdesk we make a goal from hiding the organization’s complex processes and just give people a product that enables them do their work easily. This actually requires a lot of creativity and also brings technical challenges – which of course are things that I like as a developer.

So if you have zero experience with developing service management software and you'd like to catch a glimpse of it, here are a few things that make our daily work interesting.

Complex logic

Service management software like TOPdesk deals with many aspects of a business: among others we manage information about a company's employees and visitors, about its offices and facilities, and about various activities such as help desk support and business operations. There are of course similarities and relationships between all these, creating an information structure more complex than in other types of applications. We encounter quite a lot of interesting challenges in how we design our database and implement our business logic.

Usability

We find usability very important and our functional designers are involved in several research projects with our users. We aim to adjust our interface to people who work in different situations. For example, help desk employees talking on the phone with customers have to react fast and are often under stress. We take that into account and make their workflow in TOPdesk as simple as possible. For tasks with less time pressure we can add more complex elements to the interface. Sometimes developers work together with the designers in finding the way to an interface that is easy and enjoyable in use.

Performance

TOPdesk is now also available in the cloud and that got us to put more focus on performance. Some of our challenges are to make TOPdesk responsive when it is accessed over wide-area networks (for foreign customers) and to be able to support large databases. We have a few projects dedicated to performance improvements and we are setting up several types of performance tests to be able to pinpoint problems more easily.

In addition to this, code quality is also one of our priorities. We keep on learning better programming practices, we are looking for ways to improve our code base, and we are testing new tools and libraries. We are also looking for ways to make the transition to new solutions, which is not always easy given the size of our software and the number of customers we support.

To allow developers to work on the challenges that they like the most we have flexible teams and communities of practice, so it is easy to join projects that we find interesting – whether it is back-end programming, UI programming, automated testing or something else.
 


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