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Sudoku for Beginners: How to Improve Your Problem-Solving Skills
Are you a beginner when it comes to solving Sudoku puzzles? Do you find yourself frustrated and unsure of where to start? Fear not, as we have compiled a comprehensive guide on how to improve your problem-solving skills through Sudoku.
Understanding the Basics of Sudoku
Before we dive into the strategies and techniques, let’s first understand the basics of Sudoku. A Sudoku puzzle is a 9×9 grid that is divided into nine smaller 3×3 grids. The objective is to fill in each row, column, and smaller grid with numbers 1-9 without repeating any numbers.
Starting Strategies for Beginners
As a beginner, it can be overwhelming to look at an empty Sudoku grid. But don’t worry. There are simple starting strategies that can help you get started. First, look for any rows or columns that only have one missing number. Fill in that number and move on to the next row or column with only one missing number. Another strategy is looking for any smaller grids with only one missing number and filling in that number.
Advanced Strategies for Beginner/Intermediate Level
Once you’ve mastered the starting strategies, it’s time to move on to more advanced techniques. One technique is called “pencil marking.” This involves writing down all possible numbers in each empty square before making any moves. Then use logic and elimination techniques to cross off impossible numbers until you are left with the correct answer.
Another advanced technique is “hidden pairs.” Look for two squares within a row or column that only have two possible numbers left. If those two possible numbers exist in both squares, then those two squares must contain those specific numbers.
Benefits of Solving Sudoku Puzzles
Not only is solving Sudoku puzzles fun and challenging, but it also has many benefits for your brain health. It helps improve your problem-solving skills, enhances memory and concentration, and reduces the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
In conclusion, Sudoku is a great way to improve your problem-solving skills while also providing entertainment. With these starting and advanced strategies, you’ll be able to solve even the toughest Sudoku puzzles. So grab a pencil and paper and start sharpening those brain muscles.
This text was generated using a large language model, and select text has been reviewed and moderated for purposes such as readability.
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What Is Problem Solving? How Software Engineers Approach Complex Challenges
From debugging an existing system to designing an entirely new software application, a day in the life of a software engineer is filled with various challenges and complexities. The one skill that glues these disparate tasks together and makes them manageable? Problem solving .
Throughout this blog post, we’ll explore why problem-solving skills are so critical for software engineers, delve into the techniques they use to address complex challenges, and discuss how hiring managers can identify these skills during the hiring process.
What Is Problem Solving?
But what exactly is problem solving in the context of software engineering? How does it work, and why is it so important?
Problem solving, in the simplest terms, is the process of identifying a problem, analyzing it, and finding the most effective solution to overcome it. For software engineers, this process is deeply embedded in their daily workflow. It could be something as simple as figuring out why a piece of code isn’t working as expected, or something as complex as designing the architecture for a new software system.
In a world where technology is evolving at a blistering pace, the complexity and volume of problems that software engineers face are also growing. As such, the ability to tackle these issues head-on and find innovative solutions is not only a handy skill — it’s a necessity.
The Importance of Problem-Solving Skills for Software Engineers
Problem-solving isn’t just another ability that software engineers pull out of their toolkits when they encounter a bug or a system failure. It’s a constant, ongoing process that’s intrinsic to every aspect of their work. Let’s break down why this skill is so critical.
Driving Development Forward
Without problem solving, software development would hit a standstill. Every new feature, every optimization, and every bug fix is a problem that needs solving. Whether it’s a performance issue that needs diagnosing or a user interface that needs improving, the capacity to tackle and solve these problems is what keeps the wheels of development turning.
It’s estimated that 60% of software development lifecycle costs are related to maintenance tasks, including debugging and problem solving. This highlights how pivotal this skill is to the everyday functioning and advancement of software systems.
Innovation and Optimization
The importance of problem solving isn’t confined to reactive scenarios; it also plays a major role in proactive, innovative initiatives . Software engineers often need to think outside the box to come up with creative solutions, whether it’s optimizing an algorithm to run faster or designing a new feature to meet customer needs. These are all forms of problem solving.
Consider the development of the modern smartphone. It wasn’t born out of a pre-existing issue but was a solution to a problem people didn’t realize they had — a device that combined communication, entertainment, and productivity into one handheld tool.
Increasing Efficiency and Productivity
Good problem-solving skills can save a lot of time and resources. Effective problem-solvers are adept at dissecting an issue to understand its root cause, thus reducing the time spent on trial and error. This efficiency means projects move faster, releases happen sooner, and businesses stay ahead of their competition.
Improving Software Quality
Problem solving also plays a significant role in enhancing the quality of the end product. By tackling the root causes of bugs and system failures, software engineers can deliver reliable, high-performing software. This is critical because, according to the Consortium for Information and Software Quality, poor quality software in the U.S. in 2022 cost at least $2.41 trillion in operational issues, wasted developer time, and other related problems.
Problem-Solving Techniques in Software Engineering
So how do software engineers go about tackling these complex challenges? Let’s explore some of the key problem-solving techniques, theories, and processes they commonly use.
Breaking down a problem into smaller, manageable parts is one of the first steps in the problem-solving process. It’s like dealing with a complicated puzzle. You don’t try to solve it all at once. Instead, you separate the pieces, group them based on similarities, and then start working on the smaller sets. This method allows software engineers to handle complex issues without being overwhelmed and makes it easier to identify where things might be going wrong.
In the realm of software engineering, abstraction means focusing on the necessary information only and ignoring irrelevant details. It is a way of simplifying complex systems to make them easier to understand and manage. For instance, a software engineer might ignore the details of how a database works to focus on the information it holds and how to retrieve or modify that information.
At its core, software engineering is about creating algorithms — step-by-step procedures to solve a problem or accomplish a goal. Algorithmic thinking involves conceiving and expressing these procedures clearly and accurately and viewing every problem through an algorithmic lens. A well-designed algorithm not only solves the problem at hand but also does so efficiently, saving computational resources.
Parallel thinking is a structured process where team members think in the same direction at the same time, allowing for more organized discussion and collaboration. It’s an approach popularized by Edward de Bono with the “ Six Thinking Hats ” technique, where each “hat” represents a different style of thinking.
In the context of software engineering, parallel thinking can be highly effective for problem solving. For instance, when dealing with a complex issue, the team can use the “White Hat” to focus solely on the data and facts about the problem, then the “Black Hat” to consider potential problems with a proposed solution, and so on. This structured approach can lead to more comprehensive analysis and more effective solutions, and it ensures that everyone’s perspectives are considered.
This is the process of identifying and fixing errors in code . Debugging involves carefully reviewing the code, reproducing and analyzing the error, and then making necessary modifications to rectify the problem. It’s a key part of maintaining and improving software quality.
Testing and Validation
Testing is an essential part of problem solving in software engineering. Engineers use a variety of tests to verify that their code works as expected and to uncover any potential issues. These range from unit tests that check individual components of the code to integration tests that ensure the pieces work well together. Validation, on the other hand, ensures that the solution not only works but also fulfills the intended requirements and objectives.
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Evaluating Problem-Solving Skills
We’ve examined the importance of problem-solving in the work of a software engineer and explored various techniques software engineers employ to approach complex challenges. Now, let’s delve into how hiring teams can identify and evaluate problem-solving skills during the hiring process.
Recognizing Problem-Solving Skills in Candidates
How can you tell if a candidate is a good problem solver? Look for these indicators:
- Previous Experience: A history of dealing with complex, challenging projects is often a good sign. Ask the candidate to discuss a difficult problem they faced in a previous role and how they solved it.
- Problem-Solving Questions: During interviews, pose hypothetical scenarios or present real problems your company has faced. Ask candidates to explain how they would tackle these issues. You’re not just looking for a correct solution but the thought process that led them there.
- Technical Tests: Coding challenges and other technical tests can provide insight into a candidate’s problem-solving abilities. Consider leveraging a platform for assessing these skills in a realistic, job-related context.
Assessing Problem-Solving Skills
Once you’ve identified potential problem solvers, here are a few ways you can assess their skills:
- Solution Effectiveness: Did the candidate solve the problem? How efficient and effective is their solution?
- Approach and Process: Go beyond whether or not they solved the problem and examine how they arrived at their solution. Did they break the problem down into manageable parts? Did they consider different perspectives and possibilities?
- Communication: A good problem solver can explain their thought process clearly. Can the candidate effectively communicate how they arrived at their solution and why they chose it?
- Adaptability: Problem-solving often involves a degree of trial and error. How does the candidate handle roadblocks? Do they adapt their approach based on new information or feedback?
Hiring managers play a crucial role in identifying and fostering problem-solving skills within their teams. By focusing on these abilities during the hiring process, companies can build teams that are more capable, innovative, and resilient.
As you can see, problem solving plays a pivotal role in software engineering. Far from being an occasional requirement, it is the lifeblood that drives development forward, catalyzes innovation, and delivers of quality software.
By leveraging problem-solving techniques, software engineers employ a powerful suite of strategies to overcome complex challenges. But mastering these techniques isn’t simple feat. It requires a learning mindset, regular practice, collaboration, reflective thinking, resilience, and a commitment to staying updated with industry trends.
For hiring managers and team leads, recognizing these skills and fostering a culture that values and nurtures problem solving is key. It’s this emphasis on problem solving that can differentiate an average team from a high-performing one and an ordinary product from an industry-leading one.
At the end of the day, software engineering is fundamentally about solving problems — problems that matter to businesses, to users, and to the wider society. And it’s the proficient problem solvers who stand at the forefront of this dynamic field, turning challenges into opportunities, and ideas into reality.
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Business problem solving softwares – 4 examples of software solutions that allows to handle business problems
There is no denying the fact that software is an incredibly powerful tool that shapes the world we know. It doesn't just support business—it transforms it. Through custom software development, solutions can be crafted and tailored precisely to unique needs, far surpassing the capabilities of off-the-shelf products. However, the number of possibilities may lead to creating over-extensive solutions with several unnecessary functions.
Understanding the business problems you are trying to solve is every bit as vital as the tech employed to tackle them. The key lies in finding that golden equilibrium between the objectives of a project and the technology deployed.
An ideal development team marries tech expertise—think developers, QA, and tech leads—with the strategic prowess of business-focused roles like product owners or managers.
To achieve the product-problem fit, it is crucial to identify particular points of a process and evaluate which ones should and can be improved by business software solutions. Luckily, there are a number of methodologies that help to identify and design the problem-solving software for the core problem .
Delve into the list below to uncover four common business problems, possible to address through both bespoke and ready-made software solutions.
Business management software as a tool for managing operations in a scaling organization
The dynamic organization growth entails all sorts of challenges – from imbalanced culture (increasing number of employees), through inefficient business operation systems to overgrown organizational structure.
The truth is that an organization can grow as fast as its weakest link. At the early stage of the company’s life, it is super challenging to predict where business problems can occur. As we know, no two companies in the world are the same – thousands of processes and specific conditions affect the organization’s situation. Because of this, the usage of problem-solution software often requires remodelling of the company’s operations or structure to its particular conditioning.
Problem The rapidly growing number of clients in the accounting company followed significant scaling challenges in operational processes. The reason is that the cost of service per single client was significantly higher compared to online accounting services. Conducted in-depth process analysis revealed that the primary source of problems were an inefficient external communication system and highly time-consuming document processing procedures.
Solution Custom software development allowed to create business management software that precisely addressed each of the identified bottlenecks.
- Integrated solution for quick scanning of high volume of documents, paired with OCR and automatic document classification and semi-automatic verification.
- Back office application streamlining the process of document handling. Document workflow integrated with main accounting software, allowing to integrate both documents at the accounting office and uploaded by the customers.
- Desktop application resembling dropbox – allowing upload of all accounting documents by customers, often eliminating the need to send physical documents.
- Web application allowing customers to create invoices and have a live preview of their financial data and events or payments (including taxes) due in the given period of time.
Results Applying the created business management software solution resulted in a significant increase in overall company efficiency. The automated system of scanning and processing documentation decreased time needed to proceed invoice. From now on, the accountant was approving automatically processed documents, instead of manual implementation to the system. Automation and increased workflow decreased manual labor, which in turn reduced costs. The overall performance resulted in:
- 9x lower cost of processing a single document / invoice
- 300% increase in number of customers that can be handled by the same team of accountants
- Introduction of non-accounting roles responsible for scanning and document handling
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Team collaboration software – key to resolve business problems with inefficient information exchange
Exchange of information is one of the biggest challenges in fast-scaling company. Organization’s growth often translates into an increase in the number of employees. Each new person onboard is an additional set of skills, talents, and information. Depending on organizational structure, people work together in departments, project groups, etc. Because of the universal problem characteristic, individual company conditions don’t affect overall communication problem. That is why – in most cases, off-the-shelf collaboration software will pass the test.
Problem Most of the operational activities are grounded in the processes of gathering, proceeding, and exchanging information. Exchange of information is one of the most challenging and universal processes most of the companies have to face. To name a few issues related to storage, access, and knowledge flow:
- Materials often scattered between departments, project groups, devices, etc.
- Chaotic communication divided between emails, chats, calls, etc.
- Lack of access to communication history for all the stakeholders.
- Lack of unified systems to verify employee’s performance or work progress.
Solution Some of the SaaS product solutions can address each of the named problems:
- Google Drive/Dropbox – cloud systems of data storage, make information easily shareable and accessible for all the company members, or chosen groups. Such solutions enable teams for online collaboration space to work on particular projects, including documents such as presentations or spreadsheets.
- Slack – internal communication software. The app creates collaboration space for common work, communication, and file exchange. The whole chat, organized around channels – enables employees to communicate instantly and transparently. All the stakeholders have access to information without unnecessary mailbox overloading.
- Asana – a solution designed to assign, manage task-oriented projects. The project collaboration software includes features such as creating roadmaps, task boards or structuring processes.
- Dropbox – with over 72 offices in the world, thanks to Dropbox Expedia is able to collaborate on multiple projects in real-time. Find more in the video .
- Slack – for Intuit, Slack became the number one tool to collaborate between teams, departments, and headquarters around the globe. App reached an uncomparable high satisfaction rate among the Intuit’s employees.
- Asana – Helped Sony Music to increase creative production capacity by 4x and reduce campaign production time by 75%.
ERP software is a solution for excessive use of resources
Spending too many resources on processes that could be done with way smaller costs is where no company wants to be. Saving resources by improved efficiency or well-structured processes is what we aim for. By resources, we mean all the things involved in the process to achieve desired results. To name a few employee’s time, money and materials. Depending on industry, condition, department, and process – the problem is extremely specific, often unique for a particular organization. In this case, we have two software solutions – custom enterprise resource planning software or off-the-shelf ERP software. Let me introduce you to the story of one of our clients.
Problem Decathlon faced a problem with store safety audits. The foregoing execution of the procedure combined with a growing number of stores was time-consuming and dispersed. The reports were in a printable form; the audit proceeded with the use of paper documentation and excel spreadsheets. This form was generating vast paper use and required time to print and manage the physical documentation. What is more, the end results were scattered, which made it difficult to control the process from one place.
Solution A web application with built-in guidelines about the store safety audit. Thanks to the interactive interface, the use of paper, and related activities weren’t necessary anymore. Additionally, the ERP software is connected with a database, which enables to update the same safety standards or audit tasks simultaneously for all the stores. What is more, the app enables employees to send audit results, report accidents, and day-to-day changes about the particular store. It enables managers to control and maintain the same standards across all the stores and warehouses.
Results The new system reduced the time required to conduct a store audit by 40% and paper use by 95%, compared to the previous system. The app is being used in over 60 Decathlon stores and warehouses now. Real-time reporting system greatly improved safety and reaction times in case of emergency. Last but not least, the reporting system enabled managers to plan future improvements based on the built-in reporting tool supported by the user-friendly dashboard.
Use culture software to foster company’s values
If we could name one thing that outdates rarely and should remain unchanged along with the organization growth – hands down for values. The fact that culture is difficult to measure, keeping this aspect under control seems to be quite tricky. In a small organization, you can deal with this by maintaining old school human relations (1-1 conversation) or providing a comprehensive onboarding process. However, this approach is nearly impossible to scale along with the organization’s growth. Preservation of initial vision becomes more and more challenging with each new employee on board. This problem is especially visible in a fast-growing organization. Because fostering the culture is quite a specific process – it requires both universal technology and highly specific communication. The business solution software to these problems can be solved by both – simple off-the-shelf culture software and more comprehensive company culture software.
Problem Along with extreme organization growth (160% year to year), Airbnb faced difficulties in maintaining their culture. The growing number of new employees each month, entering with their own habits and culture, was bringing completely new DNA into the organization. Additionally, the dynamic environment made it difficult to proceed with the long-lasting, detailed onboarding process.
In Decathlon, dynamic growth and hundreds of physical locations may cause difficulties in maintaining high-standard company culture. Under such conditions, it is easy to lose inclusivity among employees. Despite comprehensive onboarding, it was challenging to foster the values and update employees on the company’s mission on a daily basis. Decathlon took a step ahead and decided to reach for custom software development with a solution that would deliver comprehensive information and the latest news about the company.
Solutions Airbnb CEO executes a “hands-on” strategy. One of the most significant elements is a weekly newsletter written by the CEO to every employee. In the letter, Brian Chesky covers all the most important events of a particular week, future plans, and all the additional thoughts. Each employee can reply to the email and discuss it with the CEO. This solution can be made with the use of any newsletter tool – such as MailChimp or Freshmail. In this video , you can find more about Chesky’s culture-building philosophy.
Decathlon designed an dedicated company culture software for maintaining employee’s inclusivity. The mobile app makes the business software solution easily accessible to all the employees – also those working in the stores. The app includes articles, the latest news, and the company’s plans. The main advantage of this culture software over emailing approaches is gathering all the company’s internal information in one place. Even a new employee can easily reach the full knowledge base. Apart from sharing the information, employees have access to tools and valuable content to enrich their knowledge. In addition, the management board receives exact information about published content performance which helps to produce better quality content in the future.
Result It is hard to evaluate the culture in numbers. However, it is worth to mention that AirBnB can boast of one of the strongest organization’s culture in the world. Decathlon’s culture reflects in very high ratings on job portals . The culture software is actively used by employees, noting over 5000 launches each month with over 500+ active installations.
Problem-solving software wrap up
Despite diversified processes and industries, all the examples above share one common ground. The business software solutions were designed based on real core business problems existing inside the organization. It is undeniably the first critical factor in the result-oriented custom software development approach. As you noticed, some problems may be solved with off-the-shelf software solutions, while others require custom software. The approach depends on the specific company’s situation; that’s why it is important to precede the design-solution phase with equally important process mapping and business analysis process.
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Problem-Solving Skills for Software Developers: Why & How to Improve
Problem-solving skills go hand-in-hand with software development. Learn some great problem-solving techniques and tips for improvement here!
Software developer jobs today require that you possess excellent problem-solving skills , and for good reason. Unfortunately, there seems to be a sort of talent gap when it comes to this one skill required of all software developers.
Troubleshooting and problem resolution are both informally and formally taught, but you mostly find that software developers have to learn problem-solving skills on their own. This is true for self-taught developers , obviously, but also even for those with software engineering degrees or who’ve graduated from coding boot camps.
This is why it’s necessary to acquaint yourself with the problem-solving process, whether you are a newbie or an experienced developer. In this article, we’ll explore everything you need to know about problem-solving so you can 10x your software development career.
What are Problem-Solving Skills?
As a developer, what do we mean by problem-solving? Let’s attempt a simple definition.
In software development, problem-solving is the process of using theories and research to find solutions to a problem domain, while testing different ideas and applying best practices to achieve a desired result. Problem-solving also has to do with utilizing creativity and logical thought processes to identify problems and resolve them with software.
Becoming a great software developer hinges more on learning algorithms than programming languages or frameworks . And algorithms are simply step-by-step instructions to solve a given problem.
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Why are impeccable problem-solving skills crucial?
Making good use of a computer language can be likened to being a skilled writer. An effective writer must know how to construct sentences and use grammar appropriately. There’s more to writing than just knowing all the words in the dictionary, and that’s how it works for developers, too.
You have different tasks to work on as a software developer, including perhaps designing, coding, and troubleshooting. Much of your time will be spent on identifying problems, spotting and correcting bugs, and making sense of codebases from before you started working there. Being ingenious at problem-solving is essential in creating incredible solutions to issues that arise throughout software development.
To demonstrate ingenuity, let’s consider Google’s autocomplete tool as an example.
The autocomplete tool is built to suggest related terms in the search bar as you type. The idea behind the tool is to reduce more than 200 years of time spent typing daily and to help users save time by up to 25% while typing.
Here’s what had to be done:
- Next, since users could type just about anything, the autocomplete suggestions had to be compiled into a sensible list dependent on user input.
- Then, Google had to create a back-end sustainability system for this function. Doing this meant massively increasing its infrastructure to accommodate all forms of data query and HTTP requests.
- Finally, the user interface had to be refined by software engineers in order to make sure that every user enjoyed a worthwhile experience. So they employed Google Trends to power the auto-completion tool while using algorithms to take out explicit or offensive predictions in line with Google’s auto-completion policy.
This is just one of Google’s innumerable problem-solving examples, but it’s clear to see that solving problems involves more than just telling a computer to do stuff. It’s about your ability to come up with parameters rightly tailored to target users so they can meet their goals.
So why must developers focus on problem-solving at work?
Software developers work with a wide range of people and departments, and it’s common to discover that some clients and teams find it difficult to define what they want. As a problem solver, it’s up to you to help them identify their needs and communicate their thoughts in an effective way.
Of course, you’ll need time and practice to develop your problem resolution ability. That’s because it’s less about solving problems faster but more about coming up with the best solution . And then you’ll need to deploy that solution.
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Types of problem-solving skills
Now let’s talk about four types of problem-solving skills for developers:
1. Parallel thinking
As a software developer, parallel thinking is a crucial skill necessary to perform optimally. This makes it possible for you to carry out two tasks that complement each other at the same time (like an optimized form of multitasking skills). Being able to reorder tasks to boost parallel execution can help to improve your output and save valuable time .
2. Dissecting broad and/or complex goals
When it comes to building software, you will need to effectively outline the steps and tasks necessary to achieve your goal. Developers must learn to break large and complex tasks into smaller assignments because this is an important skill that will help you create results with precision.
3. Reimplementing existing solutions
You don’t always need to reinvent the wheel. Part of being an effective software developer comes with being able to use already existing tools before even thinking of creating new solutions. Developing problem-solving skills is very much connected to finding solutions that already exist and reusing them.
Keep in mind that goals tend to evolve. So if your client comes up with new ideas, that will mean changing your design goals and reordering your tasks. A good programmer must learn to create solutions in such a way that does not require a complete redesign from scratch.
You also have to become adept at abstracting problems so that your solutions can get them resolved so long as they aren’t entirely different from the original issue. You don’t necessarily have to abstract every aspect to avoid more complications being created. This calls for balance by abstracting only where necessary without making narrow decisions.
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4 Important Tips & Strategies for Improving Problem-Solving Skills
To keep your problem-solving skills and techniques from growing weaker over time, you need to exercise them non-stop. As they say: practice makes perfect!
To train the problem-solving side of your brain, these four tips and strategies can help you improve your abilities:
1. Make problem-solving a part of your life
Never restrict yourself to working on problems only during work hours. Don’t make it a chore, but, instead, do things that make problem-solving look fun. The game of chess, solving puzzles, and playing video games that compel you to think critically will help strengthen your problem-solving skills, and you can tell your significant other you are advancing your career! 🙂
When you come to a complex problem in your life, whether it’s budgeting for a home or renovating the downstairs bathroom, approach it both creatively and critically. Ask yourself: What would a great software engineer do in this situation?
2. Use different platforms to solve problems
Proffer solutions to a set of problems without restricting yourself to one platform. Using different platforms and tools regularly helps make sure you become flexible as a problem-solver. And it makes sense, because there really is no universal solution for the different problems that pop up in your line of work. Trying out different platforms to solve different problems helps you to keep an open mind and enables you to test out different techniques when looking to find solutions.
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3. Be open to assistance from external sources
Part of being a good software developer comes with being able to ask for help and also accept all forms of feedback. You might need a different opinion or a new set of eyes to help find the most fitting solution to some problems. It makes sense to view building problem-solving skills as more of a team effort rather than a personal journey.
Have an open mind and heart to function not only as an individual but also as a collective. It’s a utopian working environment where everyone supports each other to become better versions of themselves. So if you come across an issue that keeps you stuck, get help! You may find someone who has a more refined framework or method you never knew existed or would have thought of using. You could then learn from them and add their solution to your toolkit.
Get feedback often, as well. This could be the catalyst to making improvements to your processes and evolving them into something truly refined.
4. Tackle new problems using lessons from past solutions
As you practice and finesse your ability to identify problems and find solutions, you’ll begin to notice patterns. It’s more like developing your toolbox armed with a wide range of solutions that have proved useful in the past. So when problems emerge, you will notice how easy it is to take some of those old solutions and apply them to the new problem.
The more you attempt to apply creativity in solving problems, the more you grow your skills. In the long run, that will help you find the right solutions faster and apply them to a wide range of problems more naturally. It’s all about improving the effectiveness and efficiency with which you tackle new problems while applying only the best possible solutions.
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3 Complementary Skills to Improve to Become a Good Problem Solver
Developing software is mostly about problem-solving at the very core before even writing your first lines of code. You have to identify problems that can be solved using software. Then you have to go on to understand how people try to solve such problems in real life.
It’s up to you to come up with a framework that allows you to take both the problem and the solution and convert them into computer code. And you have to do this in such a way that makes the software even more efficient and effective than a human.
While going through this process, developers also have to handle other problems such as deadline deliveries, checking for bugs and fixing them, and collaborate across teams. So, supporting skills must not be overlooked.
Software developers must build interpersonal skills and collaboration skills . Being able to empathize, accept feedback, handle criticism, listen intently, and show respect for others are all important characteristics and abilities necessary for teamwork, and, thus, necessary for solving problems on the job.
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No one is an island, and that’s true when you consider how software engineers work. Building software requires keeping up with clients and teammates and other departments. You can’t afford to be a Lone Ranger, at least not 100% of the time, and that’s why employers always look for good communication skills.
Being a good software developer also involves how well you can break down very complex concepts to laypeople. You want to be the kind of person who fixes a problem and is able to explain how you were able to do it. It’s all about your ability to be clear and articulate about every aspect of your work. And you want to be able to communicate not just verbally but also in written form.
To build your communication skills as a developer, you can learn from more experienced people and observe how they interact with their clients. And, don’t forget, with more and more companies becoming global enterprises and going remote, it’s important to brush up on your intercultural communication skills , as well.
The difference between elite software developers and average ones is often said to be logical thinking. The ability to process thoughts logically is important, because you’ll often spend most of your time finding and fixing bugs rather than writing code.
Problems can show up from just about anywhere, even from what seems to be the most insignificant errors. So, your ability to detect software issues and solve these problems using deductive thought processes is a vital ingredient to your success as a software developer.
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Problem-Solving Stages & Practices
There are countless problem-solving processes and various schools of thought regarding the best way to approach problems whenever they arise. To solve that problem, we’ve pooled some of these frameworks together to come up with a comprehensive approach to problem-solving.
Step 1 – Define the problem
You have to first start with problem identification. Knowing what you are dealing with is important, because you don’t want to risk spending valuable time applying wrong solutions. Avoid making automatic assumptions. Even when the symptoms look familiar, you want to investigate properly because such signs could be pointing to something else entirely.
Problems in software development come in different sizes and scopes. You could be having trouble getting some aspects of the product to respond in the desired way. Or maybe you’re having issues trying to decipher a codebase section where you can no longer communicate with the original developers. Sometimes, the problem could come in the form of an unfamiliar error message and you’re at loss.
Once you’re able to define the problem, make sure to document it.
Step 2 – Analyze the problem
Now it’s time to carry out problem analysis . Before deciding what problem resolution methods to adopt, it’s necessary to find out all there is to the issue, which builds on our first step. This will make it easier to come up with ideas and solutions later on.
Problem analysis isn’t always a walk in the park. There are times when the problem involves a very small mistake such as failing to import a package correctly or a small syntax error. Other times, however, it could be such a huge error, like the entire program acting differently than what you want. There might be no alarms or blinking red lights to tell you what the exact problem is.
If you encounter such situations, you can find answers by articulating the problem. Document what you intend to do, what you’ve done, the original intention for the program, and where you currently are. Communication comes in handy here, of course, not just in your documentation, but also in how you relay it to your teammates.
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Step 3 – Brainstorm
This step has to do with generating ideas, and you can benefit from discussing the problem with a team and then coming up with ways to get it fixed. Keep in mind that problem-solving at work involves interacting with a diverse group of people where the individuals have unique skill sets and experiences.
Many developers tend to neglect the previous steps and rush straight into brainstorming. That’s definitely not a good way to go about problem-solving. The idea is not to skip the important steps in the process.
Once you get to the point where ideas need to be generated, do not discard any, because this step relies on a wide range of ideas. Only after gathering as many perspectives as possible should you then begin reviewing and narrowing down to the best possible solution.
Step 4 – Make a decision
At this point, all viable solutions have to be analyzed before selecting the most appropriate one to implement. Picking the best possible solution depends on its ability to meet certain criteria. It must be suitable, feasible, and then acceptable.
What it means is that the solution must be able to get the problem solved. It should also be easy to see how such a solution fits into the equation. And then every member of the team involved in the brainstorming process has to unanimously accept the solution.
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Step 5 – Implement
After identifying and choosing the solution, the next logical step is to plan out the implementation process and then execute it. Coming up with a detailed plan is crucial if the solution is to be a success.
Now this plan must detail all the necessary steps required to implement the solution. It will also explain the length of time and stages of work required. Once all of that is put in place, you can then move forward with the execution. The idea is not just to execute a solution but to do it the right way.
Implementation using automated tests can help to keep unexpected issues from arising in the future. Some other problem-solving practices or approaches begin the process with this step. So, whenever any changes are made to the project, tests asserting that the changes will perform as required will be written first before the changes are then made.
Step 6 – Evaluate
No problem-solving process can be deemed comprehensive enough if there is no room for evaluation. Whatever the solution may be, it has to undergo strict evaluation in order to see how it performs. That will also help determine whether the problem still exists and the extent to which such an issue keeps recurring.
In the event that the problem persists despite the implementation of a detailed plan, then the developer and team may even have to restart the problem-solving process. However discouraging that may sound, at least you’ll have caught it early enough. And, this also proves the process worked.
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Developing problem-solving skills is quite necessary for software developers. To be a successful problem solver, you will need lots of years down the line to practice what you study.
Always remember that you are a problem solver first before anything else. There is more to building software than just understanding the tech behind it and writing lines of code. It’s all about improving your ability to identify problems and find solutions, and that will need lots of experience on your part.
Never shy away from problems, but learn to think critically and logically in any situation. By applying the six-step strategy for problem-solving at work discussed in this piece, you will be more equipped to come up with the most effective and efficient solutions.
We hope you enjoyed reading our guide on how to solve a problem as a software developer and ways to improve skills as a problem solver! If you have any questions, feedback, or other great problem-solving techniques or methods, let us know in the comments below 🙂
The Arc team publishes insightful articles and thought leadership pieces related to software engineering careers and remote work. From helping entry-level developers land their first junior role to assisting remote workers struggling with working from home to guiding mid-level programmers as they seek a leadership position, Arc covers it all and more!
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Software engineering: problem-solving and critical-thinking.
July 18, 2023.
Software engineering isn't just about keystrokes; it's fundamentally about problem-solving and critical thinking.
Software engineering is a discipline that's all too frequently misconstrued as a task involving mere coding - the assembly of various statements in a programming language that instruct a computer what to do. However, the reality of software engineering is far more intricate, encompassing aspects of problem-solving and critical thinking. The keystrokes that form the lines of code are only the tip of the iceberg, a tangible output of a process steeped in analytical rigor, abstract reasoning, and creative problem-solving. In essence, the heart of software engineering lies not merely in the keystrokes but primarily in the process leading up to these keystrokes.
Problem-Solving in Software Engineering
The act of software engineering is fundamentally a problem-solving process . Every piece of software, be it an operating system, a mobile application, or an enterprise system, is created to address a specific problem or a set of problems. These problems could range from automating a business process to providing a platform for social interaction, to making sense of large data sets.
When engineers embark on a software development project, they start by understanding the problem they're tasked to solve. This involves comprehending the nuances of the problem, anticipating the users' needs, and outlining the constraints and requirements that bound the problem. Once the problem is understood, the next step is to conceptualize possible solutions.
This phase involves the application of several problem-solving strategies, such as decomposition (breaking the problem into smaller, more manageable parts), pattern recognition (identifying similarities between the current problem and previous ones), and abstraction (removing unnecessary details to focus on the core problem). Through these strategies, the engineer forms a comprehensive solution that can be translated into a software system.
Critical Thinking in Software Engineering
Alongside problem-solving, critical thinking forms the foundation of software engineering. Critical thinking involves the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue to form a judgment. In software engineering, it's employed at every stage of the development process.
During the design phase, critical thinking is applied when choosing between multiple potential solutions or design patterns. The engineer has to analyze each option's merits and drawbacks, considering factors such as scalability, maintainability, and performance. This requires a deep understanding of computer science principles, as well as the ability to foresee how the system might evolve in the future.
In the implementation phase, critical thinking is necessary for writing effective, efficient code. It involves selecting the right data structures and algorithms, ensuring code readability, and maintaining the software's security and integrity. Additionally, engineers need to anticipate and handle potential errors and exceptions, which require critical thinking to identify possible pitfalls and edge cases.
During testing, engineers apply critical thinking to uncover any issues that might not be apparent at first glance. This includes not just looking for evident bugs, but also identifying potential design flaws, usability issues, and performance bottlenecks.
Software engineering is an intricate blend of problem-solving and critical thinking, with coding as its manifestation. The keystrokes that produce lines of code are simply a conduit, a medium through which solutions are communicated to the machine. They are the end product of a process that begins with understanding a problem, formulating a solution, and applying analytical rigor to ensure the solution's effectiveness.
As software increasingly weaves itself into the fabric of our society, the role of the software engineer expands. It's no longer enough to be a good coder; engineers must be adept problem-solvers and critical thinkers, able to navigate the complex landscape of requirements, constraints, and user needs. In the final analysis, software engineering isn't just about keystrokes; it's fundamentally about problem-solving and critical thinking.
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Problem Solver Software
Corrective and preventive action capa.
Effectively tracking issues, concerns, and knowledge are part of an organization's continual improvement strategy. When an issue is raised by a customer, management will want to receive status updates on whether the concerned team has started working towards resolving it on priority. Omnex’s Problem Solver aids as a common tool and knowledge bank to track, manage, and resolve problems. Problem Solver is designed to be a single repository of all internal and external problems. Acknowledging Integrated Management Systems, we have developed our software to handle a variety of quality assurance (external and internal), environmental, and health and Safety issues.
Problem Solver software is compliant with the following standards:
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Features & Benefits (Problem Solver Software)
Manage problems and incidents.
- One comprehensive, integrated tool for all problems and incidents.
Track Closure of Investigations
- Define timelines and metrics for problem resolution, from the problem itself, to: containment, correction, corrective action, reporting, all the way to closure.
Problem Solving Approaches
- Respond to customers in preferred formats, including: 8D, 7D, PRR, CAR, LO, Advanced CAR, or “Just-do-it” formats defined by the customer.
Problem Solving Tools
- Utilize 5Why, Is/Is Not, 5W2H, Cause and Effect Diagram (Ishikawa/Fishbone) seamlessly.
Linkage to FMEA
- Connect 8D/Problem Solving to FMEA, linking detection to prevention.
Supplier Corrective Action
- Empower suppliers to complete supplier corrective action.
Escalation to Closure
- Ensure escalation to ensure effective closure.
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Problem Solving Strategy
The Problem Solving Strategy in software development is a systematic approach to find the best solutions for complex problems. This involves understanding the problem, devising a plan to solve it, carrying out that plan, and reviewing the solution for effectiveness. It's an essential part of any developer's skillset, helping to break down complex tasks into manageable parts. Learn more about Problem Solving Strategy .
Problem Solving Strategy in technologies:
Solve the Unsolvable.
Clear roadblocks on key projects by crowdsourcing novel approaches from across your technical workforce., discover breakthrough approaches in research, build proprietary advantage in development, fix critical issues in production.
“ Some of the biggest market disrupters, such as Facebook and large enterprises including GE, are currently using crowdsourcing services to solve their most complex problems. ”
Advanced Capabilities to Get Your Best Minds Focused on Your Hardest Problems
Use brightidea solve to find fresh solutions to technical challenges., challenge brief, solution evaluations, mobile collaboration.
Communicate the Problem on the Challenge Brief
Your microsite’s homepage describes the problem’s background and desired outcome, and specifies the timeline during which a solution needs to be found.
Rank Solutions for Viability and Cost-Benefit
Once a potential solution is submitted, subject matter experts can evaluate it with a built-in scoring system. Those with higher scores can then be considered for implementation.
Enable Users to Comment on Solutions—Anytime, Anywhere
Using any mobile device, employees can comment and converse on a submitted solution in real time, helping to evaluate it for viability while on the go.
“ Crowdsourcing has proven invaluable in solving our biggest technical problems, with projected impact well into the millions of dollars. ”
Open innovation lead, how crowdsourced innovation is driving a renaissance in manufacturing, listen to podcast, leverage internal engineering talent to solve pressing technical problems, read the blog, right start: getting started with solve and optimize.
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