How Planning & Design Saves Time & Money in Software Development

It doesn’t matter if you have an elaborate tech stack or state-of-the-art technologies at your disposal if you lack planning and design.

But why are planning and design foundational to a successful software development lifecycle?

Simply put, that’s where the genesis of your software happens (so to speak). 

In the planning and design stages, you create roadmaps, set a timeline, determine deadlines, and the ultimate goal to drive your efforts.

So, let’s discuss in detail how planning and design can save you time and money in software development and which best practices you can follow.

Importance of Planning in Software Development

Planning comes naturally with new undertakings or updates in projects, and software development is no exception. Software development planning is the process where businesses define, organize, and prioritize activities of the software development life cycle phases to deliver on time and within resources.

There are several reasons why planning is a critical part of the agile software development process. 

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Some of the benefits of effective planning in software development are as follows:

  1. Saves Time and Reduces Cost

Starting with the obvious but most critical, smart planning leads to effective execution.

How, you ask?

The planning process helps identify risks and roadblocks during the agile development process. Such foresight allows businesses to anticipate hurdles through the roadmap and prepare beforehand. 

  • It saves time and resources that may have been wasted tackling avoidable complications.
  • It allows teams to anticipate potential delays in the process, set realistic deadlines accordingly, take proactive steps to mitigate the impact, and identify the resources required.
  • If you plan effectively, you can avoid re-work, double-work, and changes later in development.
  1. Improved Communication and Collaboration

Planning ahead of the curve is a big part of the management of anything. Doing so helps to define the scope, objectives, and a clear roadmap for project management. When done effectively, planning can give clarity to the teams and stakeholders involved on what to expect and what’s the end goal.

This clarity enables project managers to set realistic goals and manage expectations throughout the project lifecycle. It aligns goals with expectations to avoid miscommunication and misunderstandings.

Planning also helps establish accountability and responsibilities of teams, which reduces conflicts and risks of delay. Each team member has set KRAs (key responsibility areas) that they must look after and account for in case of any delays or other complications.

More so, it facilitates collaboration as the teams know they have a common goal and ensures plenty of room for iterations in the software development life cycle.

  1. Scope for Scalability

Since planning involves anticipating future needs, it offers a lot of scope for scalability. For example, upon properly assessing the requirements of the software, teams can plan to accommodate more users, expand on different platforms, and process more data.

And thanks to the agile nature of planning, developers don’t have to start from scratch to accommodate scalability as they can deliver a working software incrementally. 

Importance of Design in Software Development

Whether a drawing on paper or a sophisticatedly-designed prototype and wireframe, design always has a front seat in the software development life cycle phases.

Design works as a blueprint to follow for the development team so that they have a clear understanding of what to develop and how to approach the process. 

For example, do you think designing an app like Netflix (which we’ve all become addicted to) would have been easy for developers without a design to guide their endeavors?

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Certainly, not. 

In fact, a report by Forrester Research found that companies that invest in design see a 10x greater return on investment (ROI) than those that don’t.

Is that not enough? Well, here are some more benefits of effective design in the software development life cycle:

  1. Improved User Experience

The design process of wireframing and prototyping keeps the user at the center of creation. It enables designers to better understand users’ needs and preferences and create intuitive software worthy of their attention.

The design also ensures the software’s functionality so users can easily navigate it and achieve their goals effectively.

Additionally, aesthetically pleasing user interface design adds to the user experience, not to mention the critical role color psychology plays in it.

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  1. Reduced Development Time and Costs

Think of the design phase as a buffer period where you can identify and resolve potential problems that might have slipped during the planning phase. It helps to avoid costly and time-consuming changes later in the development process.

Another benefit is that the design elements can be reused in multiple software projects, reducing development time and costs. This way, developers can avoid reinventing the wheel and focus on creating features and functionalities unique to the project.

Additionally, a well-planned design allows developers to focus on coding, testing, and implementing features and functionalities, which reduces development cycles and ultimately saves time and cost.

Bonus read: The Best 9 Coding Tools Powered by AI

  1. Increased Scalability and Flexibility

Much like planning, effective design is essential to creating scalable software. Here’s how design in software development boosts the flexibility of the process and makes scalability possible:

  • You can take the modular design approach to break down the software development life cycle into smaller modules to be developed and tested independently. This way, developers can add, remove, or modify specific modules without affecting the entire application, allowing it to handle increased data, users, and functionality.
  • Design also helps standardize the software components, which promotes the seamless performance of the software as a whole. It also makes scalability easier without impacting the existing application since developers can follow the software development guidelines and standard design components.
  • It can also help with flexibility in the software architecture and make it future-proof by anticipating changes and designing it with such foresight.
  1. Easier Maintenance

Good design can reduce the cost and effort of maintaining the software over time. Since you have set software development guidelines and standards and reusable design elements, introducing updates to the software doesn’t come as a challenge.

Planning and Design Best Practices in Software Development

So, if you’re convinced enough of how critical it is to nail your planning and design process, we’ve some software development best practices up our sleeve for you to follow to optimize planning and designing. We’ve divided these best practices into two parts:

Best Practices for Planning

Here are a few things you can do to ensure you have an optimized planning process in place. 

  1. Understanding the Project Scope and Requirements

A clear understanding of the project requirements and scope is paramount when planning during the software discovery process. It helps to define the project components, such as what and what not to include, and avoids scope or feature creep.

For example, if you work on the requirements and project scope, you create a project plan that outlines the tasks, milestones, and timelines necessary to complete the project on time and within budget. 

This way, you’ll be able to determine which programming languages and frameworks to use, what level of customization is required, features that should be added, etc., and plan, prioritize, and allocate resources accordingly.

Not just this, but defining project scope helps mitigate unforeseen issues and complications your software development may face and take proactive measures.

  1. Establishing Clear Goals and Timelines

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As discussed above, establishing clear goals helps everyone involved in the process understand their role and what they are working towards collectively. 

Goals also clarify what the software is meant to achieve and what features and functionality it should have and create a realistic timeline.

For example, suppose you want eCommerce mobile app development. In the planning phase, you need to determine the must-have features of the app like product listings, shopping cart functionality, payment gateway integration, etc. 

This way, your team can plan deadlines for each feature and create a timeline that includes anticipated obstacles and works the best.

Adding to this, clearly defined goals:

  • Boost productivity, reduce misunderstandings, and establish accountability.
  • Allocate and manage resources effectively.  
  • Help identify metrics to track in the future.
  • Facilitate agile development since everyone knows their roles and responsibilities.
  1. Assigning Roles and Responsibilities

As we just mentioned, the planning stage in the software discovery process is where you need to define the key responsibility areas (KRAs) of everyone involved in the development process.

Doing so eliminates any room for confusion or blame-shifting instances in case of missed deadlines. 

Each team member has their responsibilities and goals to achieve within a timeframe which ensures no ad-hoc tasks are passed down that don’t add to the project’s progress. The clarity in roles also allows teams to foresee unanticipated risks.

Best Practices for Design

Here are some best practices to follow in the design stage of development:

  1. Conducting User Research and Testing

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You do the due diligence of researching even when shopping for a pair of sunglasses, don’t you?

That’s how critical and relevant research is. So, naturally, it’s not shocking that every product and project development process starts with user research.

The aim is to collect as much data on the users as possible regarding their preferences, online behaviors, and how they interact with websites, mobile apps, and software. 

Such insights allow you to design a software product that matches users’ usability needs and preferences. When you know your target users’ preferences and which usability issues to avoid, you can save time and resources you would have wasted making mistakes.

For example, if you’re designing a project management software like Trello, user research can help you explore the most and least popular features, opportunities for new features, etc. 

You can use different platforms, like social media, competitors’ websites, surveys, interviews, etc., to collect valuable customer insights.

On the other hand, testing is a big part of the development process, and it shouldn’t be sidelined since that’s where everything you’ve built so far comes to a realization. You can identify errors and fix them right away before launching the software. Having the right functional testing tools in place is critical to ensure user paths are operating correctly.

  1. Utilizing Prototyping and Iteration

Here’s a twist on an age-old adage – The first Mac wasn’t built in a day.

And neither will your software. It took tons of mistakes, resolving them, making constant iterations, and creating multiple prototypes to present a successful product ready to be marketed. So, always include iterations in your planning process along with prototyping. 

With prototyping, you can get an idea of what your software should look like and where to add certain features and functionalities. It’s a great way to collect feedback from the management and stakeholders to design software according to the client’s expectations.

And later, testing your designs and iterating on them will allow you to get rid of the bugs and leave you with the perfect version of your software.

Planning & Design for Successful Software Development: Case Study

Here’s a real-world example from Atlassian of how planning and design lead to successful software development.


Atlassian is a software company producing a range of products for development teams. Atlassian’s software development life cycle is based on agile methodologies, so naturally, it promotes effective planning and design, along with rigorous testing, to create reliable and effective software products.

It follows iterative and incremental development, allowing its teams to work efficiently while ensuring their products meet users’ needs.

Final Thoughts

Indisputably, planning and design save big bucks in your software development lifecycle by helping you mitigate risks, prepare for possible delays, and avoid misunderstandings, to name a few.

But looking at a larger picture, planning and design allows you to deliver on time, within budget, and something your client and their users want.

These phases are where you set your goals and create a clear roadmap of how you will achieve them and who is accountable for what task. Ultimately, you’re left with a streamlined and effective development process.
You can check out our website to explore further how you can optimize your software development process.

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