The Importance of Planning and Design in the Software Development Process

Whether you outsource or engage the in-house team, developing new software is essential to every tech-driven business. 

Companies allocate a lot of resources to software development, with the average company allotting 63% of their software budget to the development stage alone.

But does their software development process use this budget to the fullest?

Software development is a complicated process involving highly-skilled developers, complex code, and a good chunk of the company budget. 

If you want to maximize the use of these resources, then planning your software development process is crucial. 

But how do planning and design improve your software development process? This article tells you all about the importance of planning and design in software development and the various steps involved at every stage. 

The Stages of the Planning Process

A software development plan is like a treasure map. 

It considers the project requirements, budget, and other factors to create a plan with optimal usage of these resources. Further, it guides the development team towards creating an excellent end product.

And to create this software development treasure map, the planning phase goes through these four steps:

Understanding requirements

Understanding requirements is a basic step, but it is not one that you can underestimate. 50% of projects undergo rework, and 70% of them fail due to issues with gathering requirements.

In fact, inaccurate requirements gathering is one of the top 3 reasons for IT project failures.

That’s why starting with a good knowledge of the requirements sets the pace for the success of the project. During this step, your team needs to develop a deep understanding of the project by:

  • Assessing the key pain points
  • Determining the purpose of the solution
  • Understanding what goals this project needs to achieve

This step should also develop a fair knowledge of the available resources and their utilization within the team.

Research and ideation

After you gather all the requirements, you will naturally move to the research and ideation phase. This step is especially important if your project requires new, unexplored features. The research and ideation phase is all about:

  • Gathering information about similar projects and the features involved.
  • Distributing available resources in the project to achieve the desired results
  • Locating missing links and identifying the right solutions to fill the gap.

If your team has worked on similar projects before, then most of your resource pool will be internal. But for new projects, the research stage plays a key role in determining how smoothly the project runs.

Assessing risks

Software development is a risky process – only if you don’t take risk management seriously. Surprisingly, not many companies create a risk management process that is competent enough to save their time, money, and resources. 

Less than 40% of companies consider creating a risk management strategy of their own.

While it is not possible to eliminate every single risk, identifying potential problems early will help you run the project development plan smoothly. This involves identifying potential constraints and also finding solutions to those problems.

For example, a certain feature you plan for a project goes over the determined budget. Instead of knowing this midway through starting the project, you can assess the issue early to eliminate the financial risk.

While certain risks may look trivial, you can prevent them from magnifying by assessing and solving them early on.

Developing the plan

After gathering all the requirements and identifying potential issues, you can develop a structured plan for software development. This step includes:

  • Resource allocation for various processes
  • Task distribution among members of the team
  • An estimated timeline and budget for the project completion
  • Creation of milestones, collaboration schedule between teams, and anything else that goes in the plan.

Though the software development plan gives direction to your project, it isn’t the final word. Developing software is a complex process, and you will need to revisit the plan whenever required. 

However, developing a plan keeps your project on track, helping you complete it around the stipulated time. But that’s not all.

Creating a software development plan has several benefits

Following a 4-step software development plan may look tedious, but it is equally essential. 

According to The Standish Group, only 34% of IT projects are completed successfully within time and budget constraints. And one of the key factors in their success is proper planning. 

If that doesn’t convince you, here are some more benefits of planning your software development process:

  • Respond to external deadlines: A well-defined plan helps you give your clients a clear estimate of when they can expect a particular project and at what budget. 
  • Facilitate internal communication: Picture this. Your coding team is writing pages of code, while your design team has no idea what they need to work on. You can prevent this from happening by using proper communication tool, and designing a plan  to help them collaborate systematically.
  • High-quality projects: With a software development plan, you can include fixed quality assurance tests at every step. This means more time to test the features, fix errors, and deliver high-quality end-products with each project.
  • Scalability: Want to expand the software capacity to accommodate more work? You don’t need to start from scratch. You can refer to the initial plan and adapt it for new requirements, keeping all your teams and resources in the loop.

After creating a plan and leveraging the above benefits, your team should have enough resources to move to the next step: software designing.

The Design Process and Its Stages

The design phase brings your software development plan to life. It shapes the software requirements by determining the hardware, system requirements, software architecture, and design specifications. 

In this process, developers have three main tasks to create a draft design:

User interface design review

The way your software looks, works, and feels is crucial in determining its popularity of the software. That’s where UX designers step in. In the UI design review phase, UX designers create several software designs based on project specifications. 

These designs are further sent for approval by the team to ensure the visual representations are well-liked by the end user and the client. Once the visual aspects are sorted, you can move on to the technicalities of implementing the design.

Developing system architecture

The UI design phase gives you user-friendly designs on paper. The technical aspect of how developers can implement the design is determined in the second step. This includes:

  • Determining the components that make up the software, such as controllers, plugins, data access points, display views, and others.
  • Defining interactions between these components. For example, determining click responses
  • Preparing for the deployment of software by defining hardware requirements, system configurations, and the method of installation.

However, these design implementations go through several stages before being foolproof. After ensuring that the software meets quality standards, developers can move to the next step of preparing technical documentation.

Preparing technical documentation

While your team might be familiar with the software development plan, other stakeholders will require guidance through technical documents. 

Technical documents include a wide range of documents such as user manuals, system specifications, verification and testing info, admin documents, and others.

These documents supply information and ensure that every stakeholder in the software development project has access to all the information regarding the project. 

It also creates a data source for your own team, which they can refer to for future software development requirements. 

A good software design process allows your team to envision the project requirements as design specifications. This facilitates clarity and compatibility within the team and also provides many advantages.

The importance of a well-organized design process

On the surface, the software design process may only aim for organization and clarity. But in reality, having a well-organized design process directly contributes to saving time and resources. 

For example, designing components in system architecture helps with reusability. If the architecture consists of several small components catering to specific functions, you can reuse them in multiple combinations to create unique interfaces.

Similarly, a design plan also helps you identify areas that can bring the same output through reduced efforts. A part of the software design could be substituted with a predefined design pattern. 

But your team won’t know which pattern to use or where to use it without having a design process in place.

The planning and the design processes are behind the scenes of any software project. Once you have an organized plan and software design, you can move to the development phase.

The Stages of the Development Process

This is the process where the actual software development starts and the product is built. The team utilizes info from the previous steps to create a product conforming to the initial requirements. And like every other process, the software development process too has several steps:


The code is a set of instructions that the computer can understand. Developers feed the computer with codes to create software according to the planned design phase.

In this step, developers first choose a programming language such as C++ or Java. Then, they write lengths of code according to the design requirements and feed it to a computer.

The computer builds the software by following the given instructions. 

All components of the software, including the UI design, are built in the coding step. aThis means even a single mistake in the written code can change how the software performs. To prevent this, the software is subjected to the next phase: testing.


In this step, the software undergoes various tests to ensure smooth, bug-free performance and compatibility with client requirements. Some common tests that developers run to identify bugs are:

  • Coding reviews: Verification of the coding structures, components, and standards to ensure error-free operation of the software.
  • Performance testing: Ensuring the software handles specified workload and conforms to the initial project goals.
  • Security testing: Ensuring that the software is immune to common security breaches and can protect client data through security measures such as encryption, verification, authentication, and so on.

While these are common quality assurance tests, you can also conduct integration tests, compatibility tests, and user tests depending on your requirements.


The testing phase identifies possible errors in the code, which are called bugs. The debugging step eliminates these bugs to ensure the software meets all the initially defined requirements. This is done by:

  • Identifying the bug source
  • Analyzing the error
  • Identifying solutions and fixing the bug

However, the debugging step isn’t a one-time process. There are several different types of coding errors that show up in different testing processes. Developers need to run the debugging process again and again to fix every single bug.

The code-test-debug process cycle is repeated till no new bugs are found. After all coding errors are fixed, the software is ready to be deployed.

The entire software development process involves complex steps and decision-making at every phase. This process can be simplified by implementing a systematic design and planning phase in the development process.

How design and planning simplify software development

Having a clear plan and design beforehand makes decision-making and cooperation easier. From developers to managers, everyone involved in the project is collaborating and knows whom to approach for important decisions.

It also gives you a clear picture of the required budget and resources. You can efficiently allocate the resources to every stage and put every penny to optimal use. 

Ultimately, having a clear plan and design in place helps you stay on track and complete the project within the stipulated time and resources. A successful project – as defined in the software industry. 

Planning and Design: the driving forces of software development

The complex process of software development can be simplified by preparing and adhering to a scheme of action. You can prepare this scheme by:

  • Involving your team in creating a software development plan, taking into account the project requirements, budget, and resources.
  • Developing a design process that gives a visual representation of the software so developers can envision what they need to code.

The two steps may look simple. But they drive the success of a software development project by saving resources and deploying an end product within the expected time. 

If you want to know more about how you can simplify other software processes, check out our website.

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