Tips Beginners Need To Know About Software Development Process

Starting a new software project can be overwhelming. It’s relatively helpful to break the process into smaller, much more manageable steps; in doing so, you can make a large project less intimidating. 

You must also follow a systematic path, ensuring that the product life cycle flows well from inception to deployment. 

What Is Software Development?

Often, it’s tempting to think that small projects don’t qualify as software development. But the thing is, no matter how big or small, you’re developing a program and engaging in software development. 

In other words, the process is simply the process of creating and coding software to meet a need. It could be a personal need like automating tasks or a need of your customers. The program could also be large or small. However, all projects benefit by breaking it down into several steps. 

Software Development Process Steps

Planning is always vital. Your chaotic decisions can lead to failure even before a project is launched. Thus, it would help if you knew how a software development process starts and ends. 

Here are the software development process steps you need to know as a beginner:

1. Discovery Phase

This phase involves gathering and analyzing information related to the project, target market, audience, etc. Meaning it’s like a prelude to the development phase. Every good software development company starts in the discovery phase. 

The discovery phase is made up of many components, but the primary components are market research, idea validation, and a software development plan. 

Here are the essential parts. Let’s take a look at them a lot closer: 

Market research

During this stage of the product development process, a business analyst will collect and analyze information about the current status of the market segment you’re about to enter. It will then identify your competitors, find their weak and strong sides, and look for ways to outperform them. 

Idea Validation

Although you may be convinced that you have a great idea, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it fits your current users’ needs. It may also not work out for the specific audience you’re targeting. That’s why your team should devise a strategy that validates your data. 

One of the way is to come up with an interactive prototype. In the discovery phase, you may also include creating a product roadmap, SRS document, etc. 

Development Plan

Before starting the development process, you need to know how it will start and where it’s headed. That’s why you need a development plan due to the discovery phase. 

The discovery team should run a software development cost estimation during this stage. This lets you align your goals with the available resources. 

This phase may also include the creation of an SRS document, product roadmap, etc. 

2. Requirements

You also need to know the technical requirements of the project. Ideally, every piece of the software should address your customers’ pain points, whether this is an app, new feature, or site redesign. 

As you move from the planning stage, you also need to ask questions about the specifics of the project, like: 

  • What particular problem does it solve? 
  • Who’s using it and why? 
  • What data input or output is needed? 
  • Will you need to integrate it with other tools and APIs? 
  • How do you handle security and privacy?

As soon as you and your team get the answers to these questions, they can start scoping the technical requirements, testing terms, and choosing a tech stack. It is the phase where you might start planning or breaking down bigger tasks into smaller, more actionable steps. 

3. Design 

The entire design team must create a portrait of the software throughout the product-building process. It allows developers and engineers to visualize the product better. 

Usually, the design stage matches the finalized ideas with the business plan to develop a more tangible and realistic product. 

Moreover, your UX/UI design team can also develop wireframes and prototypes that show how the application’s user interface will respond to interactions. Afterwards, the engineers can determine whether or not the prototype’s features are feasible before they can start building the product. 

4. Analysis and Planning

The next step is planning. It usually means looking into the following: 

  • Alignment: How does the project connect to the goals or larger mission of the company? 
  • Resource availability and allocation: Do you have the right people and tools for the job? Or would you rather work with a new development team instead? 
  • Scheduling: How is the project tailored to your company’s goals?
  • Estimating costs: How much will it cost? 

Usually, this ensures that you gain the right footing. It ensures that you include all departments that are impacted by this project as well. This includes developers, project managers, operations, security, and critical stakeholders. 

Throughout the end of this phase, you should have enough information for a high-level scope of work or a plan that shows what’s going to be built, why you need to make it, and how you see it coming together. 

Also, ensure that you choose the right abm marketing metrics that work. ABM is a strategic marketing tactic that you can use to drive engagement on your target accounts. This allows you to tailor activities within every target account to the specific of that organization. 

5. Business Validation

After you’ve successfully come up with a concept, you can validate it with investors, partners, and stakeholders. You must also develop a product concept. It should outline the business plan, competitors, and monetization strategies. 

You also might have to create a minimum viable product (MVP) that showcases your software solution’s base requirements and functionalities. 

However, some startups may need to create their MVPs during the design stage. If you want funding from angel investors and government agencies, you’ll need an MVP to show that your vision is feasible. 

6. Creating an MVP

The Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is the software’s first version with enough features to be estimated by the first users. The product is tested without investing much time and money in its development. Because of this, startup owners can fix issues and wrap up the failing project early on. 

How Do You Create an MVP? 

Have a Target Audience

Users will need your product and are willing to pay for it as your target audience. But how do you define it precisely? Well, many people fail to understand who their target audience is in the first place. 

Let’s say that you wanted to create an in the restaurant industry. What will happen if every single person out there wants to eat out? Well, it’s likely that many people won’t need your app. 

However, what if you create an app that targets vegetarians or people who don’t consume particular food because of culture or religious practices? Usually, these are people who know what their needs and preferences are. 

Thus, ensure you have a clearly defined target demographic instead of trying to draw as many people to the product as possible. 

Clear Up the Core MVP Features

MVP has only one or a couple of functions. Let’s say you’re about to develop a service for photo editing. You only add features that will showcase your platform in the best light to your competitors and solve the problems of your target audience. 

The rest of the features, such as filters, frames, etc., can be added to the subsequent versions. 

Build an MVP

So, by this time, you know what you’re going to build and for whom you’ll build it. The primary rule here is not to create the perfect product.

Instead, you should spend as little time and budget in this stage as possible. The main idea here is to save valuable resources for something that will work. 

7. Gather and analyze feedback 

As your MVP goes through design, development, and QA testing, it needs to be checked by stakeholders and first users. 

These are the first people who will tell you from their professional point of view while allowing you to find if there’s a place for your product in the market. All the feedback gathered should be then analyzed and used for further development. 

8. Testing

Some startups will usually detach testing from the overall software development process since they treat it as a separate entity. However, this approach can affect the workflow of quality assurance engineers (QA.) It also stalls the app-building process. 

Similarly, your startup should also interweave testing with SDLC, allowing them to find bugs and look for potential flaws before moving to the next development stage. 

MVP Improvements

Although you don’t necessarily have to follow Agile methodology, you still need to respond to users’ needs and expectations. 

As your product is successful, you can then be sure to invest in further development that lets you increase the number of loyal customers. 

At this point, you should also try to remove any features that aren’t useful and work on those that get the most approval from users. 

Apart from that, if you made a straightforward design for your MVP, you can hire a good designer to start the software design process again, allowing you to dedicate time and effort to develop a more thoughtful look for your software. 

9. Full software development product 

As you build a second version of your software with polished functionality, you can develop your product to become universal. You can add new features, fix issues, focus on high-end engineering, create a complex software architecture, and so on. 

It would be best to consider whether full-fledged software development needs more professionals than you have now. Or maybe you should be approaching a more qualified product development service. 

Don’t forget the promotions well. If your product is mature enough, this can connect to a broader demographic. So make sure that you’re not afraid to invest more in marketing. 

10. Deployment

With coding and heavy lifting out of the way, you can launch your software to all your users. Push your code into production. 

Usually, in many companies, this step is automated via an Application Release Automation (ARA) tool or a continuous deployment model. 

11. Maintenance and Support

If you have a successful project that starts to bring income, it isn’t the end of the road. Building a full-fledged version of your product isn’t the end of a software product development life cycle. 

No products will stay relevant to the market and remain interesting to users for years without making necessary upgrades. Your competitors don’t sleep and constantly work to create better products and services. You should as well. Make sure that you listen to the complaints and requests of users. 

Also, ensure that you fix any errors, add new features, and make your site design as trendy and user-friendly as possible. Remember that your site’s uptime is crucial, and getting the right software support to help you is absolutely vital. 

12. Product Launch

A product launch is an essential checkpoint to any software development project since it brings the finished section in front of the target audience. Thus, you must show the operations of your startup development in the best way possible. 

You can utilize the product’s beta as a criterion for consumer reactions. It would help if you also had a data collection and management system to analyze and interpret these insights. You can also make changes when addressing consumer concerns in the final iteration of the product. 

13. Monetization 

Before launching a product, your marketing team should detail a monetization strategy for the application. 

Here are some examples of monetization avenues for startups: 

  • Subscriptions
  • In-app sales
  • Ads 
  • Purchases
  • Sponsored Partnerships

Ideally, you may want to pick a monetization model that suits your startup’s marketing strategy and generates the most revenue. No matter what model you choose, you must strive to get the best user experience for your customers. 

For instance, you can make money from a free application by putting in-app ads on its interface. 

In the same way, you can also give an ad-free version of the app to premium subscribers. 

Another monetization option that you can use is to make the software program for sale after the initial trial period. This period allows users to try the application before buying and subscribing to it. By combining these various strategies, you can maximize your gains, but never at the cost of user experience. 

14. Post-Launch

As we’ve mentioned, the software development process of a startup doesn’t end when the app enters the market. You still need to follow up on the product to find any avenues for improvement and gauge the overall market acceptance. 

Your startup also needs to continue working on upgrades while the QA team tests the released product to find out if patches are needed. 

Common Issues and Solutions for Software Development Process

Issue: Ignoring What’s Important

There are times wherein teams are only focused on the end goal. As a result, they end up forgetting what’s important. 

Solution: Planning

During Analysis and planning, know the project’s crucial aspects. Everyone should meet up again to discuss essential parts if the project is already during the last stages. 

Issue: Unexpected and Late Changes

Late and unexpected changes can affect the entire project flow. 

Solution: Pick the Right Model 

This goes back to planning and choosing what particular software should be implemented. Usually, the Scrum and Agile model lets teams interrupt the flowchart of the entire process. You can always revisit each stage as needed. 

Issue: System and Development Problems and Maintenance Issues

Usually, these problems are unavoidable. Thus, you might have to apply standard IT solutions. 

Solutions: Continuous Integration Automation and Source Control 

Continuous integration (CI) automation is the automatic code changes and their integration. All of the codes utilized by every team on the operation are directly related. Thus, there’s no need for the team to meet up and adjust to one another’s workflow. 

Another solution is to have a primary source control storage where teams can save important codes. Whenever there are any issues with the server, they can return to the source control, bringing back the codes they previously worked on. 

Over to You

When you’re in the early stages of creating a new piece of software, it feels like there’s an endless path that you need to take. But rather than feel overwhelmed, you need to take a second and keep in mind that every software development process or method all boils down to the following:

  • Understand it: Understand what you’re building and why you want to create it.
  • Build It: Create and develop the software.
  • Test It: Let other users try the software and collect their feedback
  • Evolve it: Use that feedback so that you can make it better

The same thing applies when choosing the proper development process for you. First, you must understand the steps and select an appropriate approach for you and your team.

Then, give it a try, and collect feedback from the team. Also, keep in mind that it’s a lifecycle. We mean that if you don’t get it the first time, know why it didn’t work in the first place, choose a different process, and then start over. Good luck!

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