The bedrock of our preferred software development life cycle (SDLC) is quality software, itself. The rest of the steps in the process circle around ensuring quality and correctness of said software. Each stage of the cycle is important in and of itself; when execution is viewed in aggregate, a synergistic effect becomes clear.
On the flip side, developers and other collaborators must not put the cart before the horse. As a mistake in any stage of the lifecycle will result in setbacks within that category. But also whose ripples can be felt in each earlier step.
Of course, the primary burden of expertise is on the software development company. However, the more you – the buyer – know about the tech industry and the software development field the more accurately you were able to gauge the professionalism of a particular company vying for your business.
So, where does the development begin? What are the various development processes? And how do you know when the development process is complete? Without further ado, the software development process:
Stages of the Software Development Lifecycle
There are six stages to the software development lifecycle, and they follow a specific order except in certain circumstances. These stages are planning, analysis, design, implementation/development, testing/integration, and maintenance. By following this progression of stages, software companies can develop software in a predictable and manageable way.
All software development projects begin at the planning stage. This is where the initial idea for the software is formed. There is often a problem that arises in a business or industry that needs to be addressed. Rather than turning to available software options, the software development company is tasked with creating a new solution to the problem.
The planning phase focuses on identifying the problem, gathering information needed to plan a solution, and a review of all of the available data. This is the most important part of the project since effective planning can eliminate the majority of problems. There are several important things to remember as you start the planning phase:
- This phase is much like brainstorming – starting off with all ideas on the table and narrowing down to a concrete plan of attack by the end of the phase (as well as filtration through the many sub-phases).
- As in any stage of any process, communication is paramount. Specifically, transparent conversations between everyone involved in the software development. i.e. stakeholders, end-users, and the project team – should be frequent.
During the planning phase, begin gathering hard evidence to make an informed decision on how to proceed. It is important to find the evidence that you need to justify the ideas that you have. Your company cannot afford to waste money on a project that will not produce the returns that it needs. The more informed and throughout your research is in this stage, the more likely you are to avoid serious problems in the future. a. Conduct interviews and distribute surveys to clarify and confirm stakeholder and user requirements
- Create a user journey map that walks users through every step that they take in the software. Effective mapping helps you organize the software for ease-of-use.
System analysis is, essentially, a feasibility study to see if your idea is viable. The goal is to explore the idea for your software from the lens of a business executive trying to avoid a bad investment. You’ll have to build out the rest of the idea and find ways to justify its development. Much of the work in this step will outline the design and development stages later.
As you begin the system analysis process, it is important to remember:
- Step 2 is a further detailing of the above step: the entire software system will be defined, including a blueprint of each software development phase.
- This “scope of work” breaks the project into smaller parts to more easily define tasks at each phase and ensure they are all managed properly so nothing slips through the cracks.
- With so many parties involved – developers, testers, designers, client-collaborators, project managers, testers, etc – it is easy to see why even those working on the project in later stages would find such a breakdown of responsibility useful.
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The system design stage is where you create the fully developed design of your software. This is where all of the design work happens so that the development team can work on the project. In many cases, both teams are working at this point since the development team can begin setting up systems for further development and coordinating resources.
At the end of the design process, your company should have a useable plan for the software, including how it looks, how it functions, and how it will be built. As you begin the design stage, keep this in mind:
- This step largely speaks for itself. This phase is where the designers and coders design the software both front- and back-end. System analysts will also contribute to the design to ensure proper functionality throughout the user experience.
The development stage is where the software is assembled. This involves a variety of processes, including coding, setting up infrastructure, and creating documentation on how the system works. Developers may work with designers to ensure that their work aligns with the designs. If there is a problem, the development team may work with the design team to find a solution.
In the development and coding stage, remember:
- With the wireframe software laid out, the coders are free to dive into the nitty-gritty. This is the bulk of the project; where the heart of the software is built! In other words, this is where the ideas laid out in the first 3 steps become reality as a team of programmers bring them to life.
- Coding tasks are allocated as delegated by the scope of work created during steps 1 & 2 in a process called “task allocation”. This subdivision of labor ensures all programmers know what areas of code they are responsible for, so are able to maximize efficiency.
When the bulk of the work is completed, it may be sent for system testing. All software is regorously tested before being released to the public. The QA team uses tools like automated testers, to rapidly try scenarios so that they can find problems in the software. It is important to remember:
- After programmers have dotted their i’s and crossed their t’s. The software is sent to the quality control department of the team to test the product thoroughly for errors. In successful tests, a certain number of glitches are bound to be uncovered. And then are repaired before any user ever experiences the would-be error message.
- Once every test can be passed without error, the software is sent to be implemented.
Implementation (Launch and Support)
When everything is in a market-ready condition, the product is launched. During the launch, support teams of designers and developers work together to support customers. This includes collecting data on problems, as well as what users want. That way, the team can find solutions and make corrections as needed. While in the implementation stage, it is important to remember to:
- The final phase of this software product’s lifecycle! Here, software is opened up a beta phase which involves real use by the clients and companies which will be adapting it upon launch.
- If any error is experienced, it is reported to the quality assurance team members who work with the programmers to patch a repair. After a prearranged amount of time during which the software can be operated error free, it is ready to officially launch to all users!
Judging the end of a development project can be tricky. First and foremost, you should always demand any company you work with provide you with a scope of work complete with timelines, action items, and benchmarks for success. Let’s call this the bare minimum. Industry titans won’t stop there, especially if the collaboration was a pleasant one – strong leaders will look for opportunities to propel their stellar project into an ongoing, mutually fruitful partnership. This is where the “cyclical nature” or “upward spiral” of the (software) development lifecycle comes in: continually improving upon the past and creating the future.
Software development agencies are still available to help your company with software development. We specialize in creating software that is specially designed to meet your business’ needs. High-quality, custom-built software is the key to helping your business grow rapidly without system problems. Call Kitelytech at (312) 254-8248 or email us at [email protected] to discuss your next software development project.