The Importance of a Single Source of Truth for Software Development Projects

Many software developers brief their clients on the significance of what's called a “single source of truth”:

A single, shared space where anyone can go to get all the information they need about the project. Rather than being spread across a number of different communication methods, such as email, Slack, phone, text, or project management software, all the information should end up on one platform.

In truth, 90 percent of our clients fail to adhere to this recommendation a good amount of the time.

We get it. It's such an easy and innocuous act to send an email or Slack message. And generally speaking, this isn't a problem. The problem is when information that's critical to the project gets lost in the scattered messages rather than transferred to the project management tool acting as the single source of truth.

So why do we swim upstream against such a pervasive behavioral norm? Is it really worth the hassle for our clients and us to stick to a single source of truth?

The answer is yes—and we do this more for your benefit than ours.

For many years, we've tried it both ways—and after much trial and error, we're convinced that sticking to a single source of truth is in your best interest. Doing so can help you avoid a number of hidden costs, such as:

  • Miscommunication or misinterpretation
  • Unanswered questions that get lost in the noise
  • Repetition of clarifying questions
  • Unchecked assumptions
  • Wasted time waiting for answers
  • Lack of clarity about who is responsible for what
  • Unnecessary task switching
  • Frustration from having to search through massive email or Slack threads to find crucial information
  • General confusion and headache

All of this reduces efficiency and effectiveness, and costs you time and money. And it makes the whole project frustrating to work on for everyone.

Software developers often speak about the need to immerse themselves and “get in the zone” when writing code in order to be maximally efficient and effective, which is difficult to do when they're required to switch between technical and social tasks.
Having all of the information needed for a particular task in one place makes it much easier for a developer to get in the zone and write high-quality code.
Derailments from a single source of truth are bound to happen—but they're easy to fix.
A few derailments are inevitable, especially when initially trying to get a client to stick to a single source of truth. Typically, such a derailment takes the form of a long email thread or Slack discussion.
Once you realize it's happened, immediately translate that communication back to the project management tool acting as the single source of truth and tag the relevant parties so that they can continue their discussion inside the project management tool.
This simple act will make it clear to everyone involved that all crucial information must be transmitted via the single source of truth.

Our goal is to make your job as easy as possible.

We know you're busy with many other important responsibilities. In addition to saving you time and money, we want to make your experience with us overwhelmingly positive and easy.
Software development that is poorly managed can be such a thorn due to delays, unexpected costs, and/or low-quality final code. We believe introducing you to a single source of truth is one of the most important things we can do to make your experience as smooth and streamlined as possible.