Article written by Valentin Kuzmenko, Chief Commercial Officer/ VP of Sales at Andersen
Modern businesses cannot function properly without pioneering software products. Companies willing to get efficient solutions partner with IT providers offering impeccable development services. But with legions of such firms on the market, one needs to know exactly what partner to choose. What’s more, any business ready to order digital products should know the ins and outs of software companies and understand how the entire development process progresses step by step.
Let’s delve into more details and find out five steps of software development that secure remarkable outcomes.
Software development process: steps to take and things to be aware of
There are many aspects to think about when you are planning to develop your own digital solution. A firm needs to take many steps before it gets a working app that appeals to users and addresses their needs. And those software development steps can be different and depend on the company, the scope of a project, the investments, and so on. But there are basic things that have proven efficient in numerous cases, in various industries. So, pay attention to the following points, and you’ll know what steps in the software development life cycle are necessary in your own specific case.
Team composition and collaboration
Naturally, one of the first software development steps, alongside an interesting idea, is attracting talent.
It’s easy to succeed if you work with the right people. So, you should first pay attention to the typical composition of an IT team and the peculiarities of collaboration with such professionals. And make sure there is no weak link: You may have the best possible developers, but if you lack proficient designers or testers, your product will fail.
There are three main structures, and you can choose the one that suits you most.
- Generalist team
Such teams prioritize versatility above specific expertise. Specialists working in them have a good notion of the entire process and understand a variety of development fields. But they don’t have that in-depth industry expertise that sometimes defines the success of a specific product. So, if you want to create a niche app, maybe this kind of team is not your number one choice.
- Specialist team
Here, we see an entirely different approach: professionals with impressive expertise in certain industries or fields and a lack of general knowledge of the entire process. To bridge this gap, such a team needs a reliable moderator capable of bringing all the specialists together.
- Hybrid team
Perhaps, this structure is the most efficient as both narrow specialists and generalists are working together on digital products. This approach ensures efficiency and decent results. One part of the team is responsible for the entire vision, and the other one knows how to implement specialized features whenever necessary. It’s not easy to come to terms with each other at times, but the result is worth collaboration.
There are several factors that determine the choice of this or that structure. The main ones are the complexity of a project, deadlines, budget, working conditions, and terms of cooperation.
What for specialists, a basic IT team includes the following professionals:
These are the core members of any such team. Without them, nothing is possible as they write the code that brings digital products to life.
- Product Manager
This professional guides the entire development process from start to finish. They define the product strategy, set priorities, and keep a watchful eye on the work of team members. Their key goal is to ensure everything meets customer requirements and works as efficiently as possible.
- UX/UI designer
IT professionals can describe the peculiarities of a solution for hours. Lay users, however, don’t understand the technicalities. They see what solutions look like, interact with interfaces, and need simple and convenient apps. This makes UX/UI designers indispensable as these are the very people behind the appearance of a product and its usability.
- QA professionals
No application can reach the market without thorough testing. This is where QA professionals come into play. Their work is essential for the success of any software idea.
These are the backbone of a team. But there are other significant members, including Business Analysts, DevOps engineers, security experts, and so on.
Efficient work is hard to imagine without a sound methodology. It covers all the relevant processes related to project work and serves as the foundation upon which everything is built. Thanks to a well-thought-out methodology, team members carry out their tasks more efficiently, don’t experience communication issues, and secure the best possible results.
There are several methodologies to choose from, and none of them is ideal. However, more and more modern businesses are going Agile, and there are serious reasons for that.
Communication, clarity, and user-centricity are the top priorities here. With these values, excessive documentation and rigid procedures are gradually becoming the things of the past. With short sprints of 1 to 4 weeks, Agile teams do wonders. They develop products iteratively, test the software as it progresses, and pay increased attention to what customers say. This allows them to implement all the changes needed to secure an impeccable result.
The cornerstone of this one is the Agile philosophy. The incremental character and working in iterations are key features of Scrum. Another important aspect to mention is the key roles of some professionals. These are the Product Owner and the Scrum Master who communicate the requirements to the team and ensure everyone is carrying out their tasks properly. The speediness of processes, timely implementation of all the necessary changes, regular meetings, and well-oiled communication make this methodology produce excellent results.
The above iterative methodologies have proved more efficient than the old-school Waterfall. However, this linear approach is still demanded by some teams that need easy-to-understand proven techniques and a clearly documented picture of all processes before the start of project work. Newcomers and companies that don’t need complex solutions may benefit from it. If you need a sophisticated system, you’d better thoroughly weigh all the pros and cons here. The key drawback is rigidity: all the testing happens at the final stage. And if there emerge errors, they are naturally much more challenging to fix than when working step by step.
Furthermore, development professionals with a progressive mindset choose DevOps practices to improve the collaboration between different teams and make the products enter the market much faster.
Technology stack and tools
As technology advances at an impressive pace, IT professionals must be aware of the latest trends to pick the best tools. Some important factors to consider here are performance, effectiveness, and scalability.
First, an entrepreneur willing to cooperate with software specialists must understand what a tech stack is. In essence, it’s a set of programming languages, vital tools, frameworks, and libraries needed to create a digital product. Its two key components are the frontend and backend stacks.
These are for the server side of a digital solution. Such languages as Python, Ruby, or PHP and frameworks as Ruby on Rails or Django will help you build excellent software.
A software stack is of immense importance. No matter how skilled team members are, they need decent and well-functioning tools to carry out all their tasks easily and quickly. They greatly influence the overall result and the scalability of an app or a system. So, when choosing a stack, professionals pay attention to such factors as:
- Ease of use, depending on the level of knowledge and experience of developers;
- Speed and performance related to the project requirements;
- Technical debt with the consideration of potential long-term consequences.
Quality assurance and testing
You may come up with a boldest software idea, hire top-notch engineers and designers, invest huge amounts of money into your project, and still fail if you don’t include QA activities in your workflows. No human is perfect, and we can all make mistakes. This is where qualified testers come to the rescue. While everyone is fearing mistakes, dealing with those is their direct responsibility. So, be sure, they have developed a sharp eye for even minor drawbacks.
Software testing is one of the vital stages of the entire SDLC. Specialists engaged in this process make sure a product meets all the business requirements and runs flawlessly. As users are happy only with solutions that show incredible performance and are bug-free, QA professionals work hard to communicate all the errors to the development team.
There are several key testing strategies aimed at different aspects of software development.
- Unit testing, securing impeccable performance of separate code elements;
- Integration testing, in turn, is meant to check if those elements interact with each other seamlessly;
- Functional testing is carried out to make sure a digital product functions in full accordance with the requirements set at the start;
- Regression testing is vital to check if changes don’t ruin the existing functionality;
- Performance testing helps IT professionals assess if a system is responsive, scalable, and stable enough and if it copes with various workloads;
- Security testing is critical as it helps to detect potential vulnerabilities that can lead to security breaches;
- User acceptance testing is a stage where lay users enter the scene and check if a product is precisely what they want or need.
Testing processes can be performed both manually and automatically. Even though manual testing shows decent results, automation practices considerably enhance the entire process. First off, they help specialists to save time. Second, they ensure excellent quality. Such automation frameworks as Selenium, Appium, or Cypress are of great help when testing both web and mobile applications.
Project management and delivery
Last but not least, any project needs efficient management. As there are too many resources involved, including the production staff, money, and tools, everything needs to be planned, scheduled, and controlled in the best possible way.
All these tasks require experienced and responsible professionals with excellent organization and communication skills. Commitment and the desire to improve the results are also important. The responsibilities of Project Managers thus include planning the entire scope of work, realistic goal-setting, reasonable allocation of resources, sound budget management, and constant communication with all interested parties. The project in question must respond to the requirements of all stakeholders, meet all deadlines, and secure top outcomes. Moreover, Project Managers must foresee all potential issues and have scenarios of how to deal with them.
The choice of methodology (Agile or anything else) determines if the processes are linear, iterative, repeating, or overlapping.
So, with all that being said, what are the software development process steps? The typical development-to-deployment journey looks as follows:
- Design and development
During this stage, specialists work with requirements, turning software ideas into high-quality solutions.
- QA and testing
As we have mentioned above, these are vital. If you want a thing that really works and doesn’t annoy users with unforeseen bugs, thoroughly carry out this step.
- Deployment and launch
Now, the software is available to end-users. You may enjoy your success (in case, you have really worked hard and considered all the necessary aspects).
- Post-launch support and maintenance
There is no such thing as a completely finished digital product. At least, if it is meant for long-time exploitation. Times change, and so do customer and user requirements. IT specialists must provide qualitative support to secure the relevance of software. This may include bug fixes or enhancements or anything else that improves the product.
As you can see from the above-listed software development steps, the entire process is about profound knowledge, innovation, and teamwork. Leading companies for software development engage top-tier specialists of all profiles to make things work well together. One experienced specialist is not enough to secure a robust digital product. But with a good team and efficient tools, you can achieve a lot.