To stay competitive in today’s digital economy, software is an essential part of doing business. Whether it’s a snappy website to attract customers, an online store, a mobile app to engage users, an enterprise productivity platform, or another solution, a software product works best when it’s designed from the beginning to meet your needs.
This involves commissioning custom software development—contracting an experienced IT company to create a software product that is aligned with your company’s vision. Shopping around for the right software partner naturally involves several discussions about the process and scope of the project. Software development is complex, but the process can be broken down into distinct steps that make the big picture easier to understand.
To help you understand the whole software development life cycle and facilitate discussions with developers, we’ve outlined the 10 steps below. Some companies may lump certain steps together in their materials, but the following outline is broadly applicable to all custom software development processes.
1. Ideation and Concept
The earliest stages involve brainstorming ideas for your software—what business goals does it target? What problems does it solve for the user? Should it be a mobile app, web app, desktop app, or multi-platform? You want to have a clear idea of your needs and wants before approaching a software company so that they can confirm that it will be within their expertise.
In the planning stage, the concept is analyzed by your company and the development team to ascertain how the software will fulfill its goals, and what potential drawbacks there might be. It involves gathering information and clear communication between all stakeholders.
The next step is to conduct a system analysis to look at how feasible the project is, how much it might cost, and whether the proposed benefits will be worth it. Both client and development team should be working closely together during this stage, which should end with a roadmap that outlines the development process, a breakdown of responsibilities, and which features are the highest priority.
The design phase is the last phase before the actual product development starts. Its main goal is to create a finalized software requirement specification (SRS) document that the dev team can use as a working bible in the following stages. Contents should include details of all requirements, programming frameworks that will be used, UI sketches, prototype plans, testing process, security risk assessment and safeguards, recovery and backup plans, and more. All stakeholders—client, project manager, business analyst, designers, and developers—should be involved to make sure everyone is on the same page before moving on.
This phase is when the main coding work gets underway. It starts with a wireframe model for the software product and an organization of coding tasks according to the preferred methodology—e.g., Agile, Waterfall, V-shaped, etc.
Depending on the methodology, some testing may also be incorporated into the previous phase, but ultimately, every aspect of the software must be thoroughly tested before moving on to the next phases. QA specialists can run automated and manual tests. Once errors have been fixed, it’s time to launch.
This is the implementation/rollout of the project to initial users, whether in the general public or throughout your company.
During the launch phase, the developers and designers should be in close contact with initial users, who may be a pre-selected group of beta testers who can report on the user experience and identify any problems that slipped past QA.
At the final stage of the development cycle, the software goes into production, available to all intended users. The team still needs to be involved, guiding the full rollout, following procedures, and troubleshooting any issues that might come up. It is also when the ownership of the software is typically legally transferred from the software company to the client.
Even after deployment, software, especially software as a service, is a living project and requires updates, further bug fixes, technical support, and adjustments over time. It is common for users out in the real world to discover small issues or rare interactions that were not detected during development. The best team to handle this is naturally the same company that developed it, so it is not unusual for these companies to also be contracted to handle long-term maintenance.
Software development involves many different tasks, interactions, negotiations, and processes, but by following the above structure, it can be planned and managed in a logical and efficient manner that all stakeholders can follow. Remember that in the initial stages of the project, a reputable software development company should be able to discuss its methodology and workflow, justify a timeline, and offer monitoring services to keep you up-to-date on progress.
AccelOne’s US-Nearshore Software development team has extensive experience in delivering quality software solutions for a variety of industries, on time and within budget. To learn more about how we can help create the best software solution for your business needs, contact us online or call 800.863.6814.
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Chief Development Officer/Co-Founder