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:
1. Requirement Gathering & Review/Analysis
- 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.
[i] Gather hard evidence to make an informed decision on how to proceed:
a. conduct interviews and distribute surveys to clarify and confirm stakeholder and user requirements
b. Construct wire-frame, multiple-use cases to walk users through each action he/or she will face in the new software
2. System Analysis
- Step 2 is a further detailing of the above step: 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.
3. System Design
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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