In today’s world of continuous software development and integration, removing bottlenecks and increasing efficiency is of utmost importance. One surefire way to improve this efficiency is leaning into modularity–or ‘taking the modular route.’ In software engineering, modularity refers to building complex products or processes using individually distinct functional modules.
An analogous way to describe this is thinking of modularity like you would Lego. Every Lego can connect to every other Lego using the same approach. But the way you put them together differs, from simple constructions to magnificent architectural creations, even though they’re made using components that connect in the same exact way.
Put simply, modularity is a deployment strategy that allows for quick configuration changes through standardized methods. In that sense, software development is much more manageable when it is modular.
A Way to Address Growing Complexity
Modularity has been key in helping to build complex business solutions. Before developers started using this approach, the risk of a single update or software release taking down the program was very high–and common. Fortunately, modules became popular and combatted that issue with their parallelity, allowing multiple teams to work independently without affecting each other’s work.
This cut down on the inevitable complexities that would emerge from the common issue of too many cooks (developers) in the kitchen (working on an application). And this applies all the way up the ladder to business leaders as well, who are able to now choose from various modules and plug the module into their ecosystem according to their specific requirements.
The feature-independent modules can be regularly updated and tweaked without affecting other parts of the ecosystem. This way of continuous development looks seamless to the end user without any downtime. And developers often employ prewritten modules, which conserves resources and makes modularity successful.
Developing modules individually greatly increases the rate of invention. Each department or business could delve further into its operations by focusing on a specific module. Having many teams focus on the design of a given module fostered numerous parallel solutions. Modularity, in this way, helps innovation happen more quickly within organizations–teams are given the ability to expand to a marketplace model where third-party developers can create their custom modules that are easily integrated.
If you want to see a perfect example of modularity’s positive impact on innovation, take a look at how quickly the mobile app marketplace has grown. Thanks to modularity, third-party developers created their own modules based on set standards, which gave way to innovation and the mobile app marketplace. External developers can develop custom modules and plug them into a separate system.
Take a look at your phone and it’s evident in Apple’s App Store. It has thousands of apps–the majority of which are from external developers. If an ecosystem supports modularity, custom module development is made available to partners and clients, which not only expands the product scope but also helps to fast-track the launch of new products.
Standardization and Scaling Up
Modularity’s standardized function is a crucial advantage for developers. The same modules can be used across different businesses, which reduces the need to design custom solutions. During the development phase, which is fast-paced and demanding, this standardization improves product quality while reducing errors and oversights.
The business flows are designed with the same plug-and-play approach–giving the flexibility to change them with almost zero to minimal code changes. The plug-in nature of modules also allows complex systems to be scaled up with new modules.
During downtime, they can reduce the number of modules, which reduces costs and gives teams immense flexibility to manage that cost and resources over time. This is invaluable for changes like government compliance requirements that continually go into effect. Plug-and-play modules enable IT teams to maintain the continuous business processes.
Ease of Maintenance
Because of the standardization of the modular route, maintainability is considered an inherent part of system design. The ease with which a system is kept up efficiently and easily is crucial to IT teams, and modularity gives way to the maintainability of a product. New fixes or updates can be easily integrated in the independent modules and diagnosing quickly helps in reducing the turnaround time.
The end business user also does not need to worry about the internal details of the modules. They should have a high-level knowledge of what the module does and can integrate it into their system without being bogged down with knowledge of the inner workings.
Reuse, Reuse, Reuse
Reusability is one of the biggest advantages of taking the modular route because the same functional unit can be used in various instances, making for rapid development and, ultimately, faster time-to-market.
One real-life example of this is a company that needed a new connection to onboard new customers, which required custom configuration on the client’s end. Every time a new integration needed to be created, the process repeated. As any developer will tell you, the method was not scalable in the long run–and had massive maintainability issues. This is where the modular approach saved the day. The company designed a system where a new client connection could be configured using pre-existing modules and reused for multiple clients.
Collaboration and Interchangeability
Developers are not allowed to be one-person bands–the work requires constant teamwork across departments and teams. Modules are perfect for this–multiple teams can work simultaneously on different modules, which cuts down the laborious development cycle. Teams can work in different design patterns and develop unique solutions to improve product quality.
Interchangeability goes hand in hand with this–the business user can change an existing module and use a different module with minimal effort to the business flow. Options are then increased for the end user, and they can choose from many different solutions.
The modular pattern is not entirely new, but its success relies on the collective effort of IT teams and business leaders to do their part in designing and following a standard software framework. Only then will developers be able to take the modular route and deliver innovative, quality software for organizations across industries around the world.