As the saying goes, you should never act on a hunch when it comes to the software development process unless you’re planning to commit business suicide. Every successful software project begins with a well-crafted plan and a clear process. While the specifics may vary depending on the business, it’s essential to have a solid foundation that underpins every step of the software development process.
At Relevant, a seasoned software development company with ten years of experience, we’ve honed our software development process steps by creating over 200 products. So we’re excited to share thorough insights into these steps, elucidating the various stages, the teams involved, and other essential information to jumpstart your project. Let our article serve as your North Star, guiding you from start to finish. Here is how to develop a software project step by step:
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These activities lay the groundwork for a successful software development process. Comprehensive analysis ensures all your stakeholders possess a clear grasp of the project’s objectives, requirements, and intended outcome. This stage also enables the identification of potential issues, risks, and constraints.
A detailed roadmap you crafted during the planning phase, highlighting the project’s milestones, timeline, and resource allocation, will be a guiding light for your development team, helping to establish a framework for project monitoring, progress evaluation, and stakeholder communication. Well-conceived planning streamlines the software development process and reduces the likelihood of deviations, ensuring the project remains on course and aligns with the initial objectives.
Tip: The requirements analysis and the primary planning phase often occur simultaneously, as they are inherently interconnected. Such an approach fosters a seamless transition from one stage to the next while ensuring that all aspects of the project remain aligned.
Embarking on the software development process requires a tight-knit group where every member is well-versed in their responsibilities. In most cases, your team will comprise the following specialists:
Initially, you will communicate your product’s vision and requirements to a Chief Technology Officer (CTO) or Tech Lead. Nonetheless, their participation will not conclude there; they will be involved in every phase of the software development process alongside you.
What they do: The CTO or Tech Lead manages your project, devises a roadmap, and ensures the product’s technical success. They weave your business strategy into the software development processes, identify roadblocks, and create solutions to overcome them. Furthermore, they act as a mediator between you and other stakeholders to maintain alignment.
This role serves as the overseeing authority for your project, ensuring timely delivery without incurring unnecessary costs throughout the SDLC.
What they do: In collaboration with the CTO or Tech Lead, the Delivery Manager creates a project roadmap and oversees all software development stages regarding deadlines and resource allocation. They emphasize your business requirements throughout each phase and provide updates on the progress made. In the Agile model, the Delivery Manager focuses on maximizing the value of your product through iterative development.
Having a Business Analyst (BA) on your team is crucial to guarantee your product effectively fits into the market.
What they do: The BA clarifies your goals and how your product can achieve them. In the early stages, they analyze data and gather insights to determine your target audience’s desires. Then, they bridge the gap between problems and solutions, identifying the optimal approach to creating your product and estimating the associated costs. Finally, they document business requirements and ensure they are met without compromise.
What they do: Their responsibilities include designing, developing, and closely monitoring your software’s quality. They turn your vision into a comprehensive product and deliver it to end-users sustaining it beyond launch to provide ongoing value to your target audience.
When it comes to creating a new product, idea validation is an essential step that cannot be overlooked. It’s a process that helps determine whether your idea has real potential and is worth investing time, money, and resources in.
The development team verifies your idea’s validity by thoroughly assessing the current market demand for your proposed product or service, identifying potential competitors, and evaluating the feasibility of your concept. It will help you determine if your idea is worth pursuing and how to position it in the market.
The next crucial step involves an initial estimate of the overall project budget and timeline, followed by a more detailed breakdown of each task and resource necessary to bring your vision to life. Armed with this information, you’ll be well-equipped to make savvy decisions about resource allocation, meeting schedules, and mitigating potential risks that could jeopardize your project’s success.
In general, the rough estimate takes into account the total scope of the project, the scale of the workforce necessary to complete it, and any additional resources, such as software licenses, hardware, or office space. This sort of estimate is typically formulated at the onset of the initiative and can be modified as additional information becomes accessible. Given your budget constraints, it is beneficial for preliminary planning purposes and may help determine whether the project is achievable.
In contrast, a detailed estimate is a comprehensive breakdown of the expenses and timeline for a given project. It involves dissecting every task and activity needed to finish the project, assigning a cost and time forecast to each one, and recognizing any interdependencies or hazards that could impede the project’s success. The detailed estimate offers a more precise and intricate project picture, enabling you to make informed choices regarding resource allocation, timelines, and potential risks.
Tip: Whether you opt for a rough or detailed estimate, the key is to be thorough and accurate in your analysis to avoid costly mistakes and ensure the project’s success.
It is also crucial to consider the infrastructure and software architecture to ensure accuracy in estimating software development costs. The chosen platform can significantly impact the overall project cost when planning cloud deployment. Popular cloud service providers, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform (GCP), and Microsoft Azure, each present distinct features and pricing schemes.
As you progress with your project, deciding on the right software architecture pattern is crucial to its success. There are several types of architectural patterns used in software development.
Once you’ve chosen an architecture pattern, the next step is to make all functional and non-functional requirements crystal clear. This critical process involves collecting all the necessary details to prepare a comprehensive software requirements specification (SRS) document and assembling an appropriate tech stack.
The software feasibility study will help determine whether your software is viable and meets your specific needs while ensuring compliance with legal requirements. There are different types of software feasibility that should be evaluated before starting the software product development process. Key ones include:
Examine the resources and technologies needed for successful project implementation, pinpointing potential technical issues and areas for improvement.
Assess your product’s user-friendliness, maintainability, and integration readiness, focusing on ease of use, reliability, and scalability. Investigate compatibility with existing systems and potential integration challenges.
Evaluate compliance with data privacy, security laws, intellectual property rights, and local regulations. Identify potential legal concerns, such as copyright infringement or data privacy violations.
Tip: During software feasibility assessments, maintain an open mind and flexibility with your requirements. Aim to develop a product that addresses your business needs and appeals to your target audience. Remember to integrate the analysis findings into your software development documentation.
Now, it’s time to bring your vision to life with a prototype or MVP. You can take a few different routes when creating your initial product offering. Let’s explore three popular options:
A clickable prototype is a noteworthy alternative for those who desire to experience how their software will appear and operate without investing significant time and resources. Using a clickable prototype, you can experiment with different design and functionality options while receiving user feedback before committing to a more substantial minimum viable product (MVP).
Another option to consider is a concierge MVP. That involves creating a bare minimum yet functional version of your software that requires manual intervention to deliver. This method can entail having a dedicated team member handle certain tasks or working with users one-on-one to ensure their needs are fulfilled. This MVP alternative is ideal for validating your idea while receiving more personalized and immersively user feedback.
Alternatively, one could invest the time and resources necessary to create a complete, fully-functional version of your software, known as a full-fledged MVP. Though this option demands more upfront resources and investment, it can help accelerate your product launch to the market with more features and capabilities.
The goal of the design phase in the software development process is to create a comprehensive blueprint for the software solution, outlining its architecture, components, and interrelationships.
This phase translates functional requirements into technical specifications, ensuring the software will be efficient, scalable, maintainable, and aligned with the project’s objectives and constraints. Additionally, the design phase aims to mitigate potential risks and address any system-level concerns, such as security, performance, and integration with other systems.
This step encompasses various elements, from understanding users to refining the final design through testing. Here, we will discuss four key components of software design:
You probably already understand your product’s purpose and target audience and are ready to start the design process with your team. It should include:
These elements form the foundation of information architecture (IA), a crucial tool for organizing your product’s navigation, features, and content. IA prioritizes user experience (UX) during wireframe creation, fostering stakeholder alignment and promoting team workshops.
Additionally, use a business process modeling notation (BPMN) diagram based on a work breakdown structure (WBS) to manage design decisions, artifacts, and information flows. This method connects ideas and processes, ensuring a user-centric product design.
Wireframes are simple, low-fidelity visual representations of the software’s layout, which showcase the overall structure and organization of content. They act as a foundation or blueprint for developers and designers to work together and refine the application’s design.
On the other hand, mockups are more detailed, high-fidelity visuals that represent the final appearance of the software. They include colors, typography, and other design elements, giving stakeholders a realistic impression of the final product’s look and feel.
By incorporating wireframes and mockups into the design process, developers can create a visually appealing, user-friendly software solution that meets stakeholders’ expectations by incorporating wireframes and mockups into the design process.
User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) design are two vital components that work in tandem to create an engaging and user-friendly product. UI design focuses on visual aesthetics and interactivity, while UX design concerns the overall experience, including usability, accessibility, and functionality. At this stage, you receive the finalized UI design for your product, incorporating your mockup feedback to:
It is crucial to test the final design with your target audience to gauge their response and ensure success.
Usability testing is the process of evaluating the software product’s design and functionality through real-world user interactions. By observing users as they interact with the product, we can identify potential issues, bottlenecks, and areas for improvement. Usability testing provides valuable insights by:
This testing method allows you to analyze real user experiences, enabling efficient redesigns and ensuring a refined product before proceeding to the coding stage.
The software product development phase is where the designs, system architecture, and product functionality all come together in written code. That is where the software developers put their skills to work, building a digital product that brings the earlier specifications and requirements to life. This stage involves setting up infrastructure, frontend, and backend work, with you remaining informed throughout the process.
Tip: During development, you’ll receive a comprehensive Statement of Work (SOW). Crafted by a project manager, the SOW outlines the project’s goals, timelines, and services, ensuring you stay updated on your product’s progress. The SOW creates a standardized approach, guiding all teams toward a successful launch.
Accompanying the SOW are eight essential project artifacts that clarify processes across software engineering steps:
Our collaboration begins with an engaging kick-off meeting and extends far beyond. Upholding high standards, we employ Agile project management methodologies and encourage your active participation in:
Tip: Regardless of employing Agile sprints, constructing an MVP, or following the conventional waterfall approach, the objective is to adhere to the SOW, avoid scope creep, and build clean, efficient software.
In the software product development process, perfection is achieved through diligent testing. Testing remains an integral part of the process from when the first line of code is written until the product goes live.
At Relevant, our quality assurance services are built upon a predefined QA plan our entire team adheres to. This plan outlines the software testing scope and actions required to deliver a perfect product. During the development stage, we focus on:
We employ manual and automated testing techniques to identify and resolve issues efficiently. The choice between manual and automated tests depends on your project’s needs and goals.
Manual Tests require hands-on checking by QA specialists, who rely on their expertise to evaluate software, features, or specific modules. Despite being labor-intensive and susceptible to human error, manual tests are advantageous when:
Manual tests are especially useful for evaluating user experience and discovering aspects only humans can notice.
Automated Tests involve running pre-written scripts to check software for defects. Although the initial setup may be expensive and still requires QA specialists’ oversight, automated tests are more effective when:
Automation is best suited for large-scale test cases that must be executed multiple times, such as regression, unit, and load tests. By understanding the unique advantages of manual vs. automated testing, we can optimize the QA process to ensure your software product meets the highest standards.
Test-driven development (TDD) is our preferred approach to coding and testing, as it allows software development processes to be guided by test results. In TDD, code is written only after a failing test indicates a change is needed to validate specific behaviors. That entails writing the bare minimum of code to pass the test, eliminating duplicate components, and repeating the cycle.
TDD intertwines actual development and testing, differing from traditional testing that occurs once all code is in place. This methodology ensures higher test coverage and promotes a more efficient development process.
By adopting TDD, your system benefits from
Tip: While TDD often utilizes unit tests, it is not synonymous with them. Unit tests are common in traditional testing for examining behavior at the lowest level. However, in TDD, they serve as an integral part of the refactoring process, actively driving development forward.
Upon successful pre-launch testing, your software progresses to the production stage. At Relevant, we expertly orchestrate software product releases, ensuring a seamless transition for your solution to reach end-users. To ensure a successful launch, we pay close attention to the following key components of release orchestration:
Initiating your software launch begins with establishing a secure hosting environment, whether on-premises, cloud-based or hybrid. We carefully evaluate the requirements, including traffic, storage, and processing power, to determine the ideal server size and capacity. Also, we set up backend processes and integrate DevSecOps practices meticulously.
Incorporating a Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Delivery (CD) pipeline is crucial for any software build process. This approach streamlines the release process for all builds and simplifies post-launch modifications. Additionally, adhering to CI/CD pipeline best practices enhances your product’s maintainability by consolidating it into a cohesive package.
We understand the importance of safeguarding your application against potential third-party service failures. To mitigate this risk, we implement strategies such as monitoring, circuit breakers, and fallback mechanisms, ensuring that your software remains operational and resilient in the face of unexpected issues.
Our team prepares a detailed deployment plan to ensure a smooth and successful software build process. We outline the release schedule, identify potential risks, and establish rollback strategies to minimize downtime. We guarantee an efficient and trouble-free deployment process by coordinating with stakeholders and following a systematic approach.
Upon launching your product, the crucial operations and maintenance phase begins. Maintenance is essential to ensure your product remains up-to-date, operational, and downtime-free. Per the IEEE/ISO/IEC 14764-2006 standard, there are four types of maintenance activities:
A maintenance plan details activities, responsibilities, Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) documentation, schedules, costs, and reporting. Ideally, it should be prepared during the software build process phase if the same team handles both development and maintenance.
Tip: A software maintenance agreement is typically signed with your development team or a third party, outlining maintenance responsibilities, activities, and liabilities.
Resource analysis is another critical aspect of the operations and maintenance stage. It should account for personnel, environment, and financial resources required for maintenance activities. By collaborating with a maintenance provider like Relevant, you can utilize research findings and statistical methods to estimate costs and budget for maintaining your product effectively.
Strong security practices are paramount in today’s access control breaches and data threats landscape. That is why we diligently adhere to ISO/IEC 27001 standards throughout the software development, investing in extensive employee training to ensure secure products. Upon completion, your product is technically secure and accompanied by essential plans and policies, such as
We also conduct regular risk assessment and threat modeling workshops, fostering awareness and security-focused collaboration. These sessions cover topics in our web and mobile application security guide.
The steps outlined above are just a guideline and can vary across different companies, depending on their software development methodology. Let’s delve into a few of the most commonly used ones.
Choosing the right software development process is a critical decision that should not be taken lightly. Here are some essential factors to consider:
The software development process hinges on each project’s distinct factors. Analyzing these elements ensures an appropriate methodology selection, fostering a successful and efficient development journey.
Adhering to best practices throughout the product development life cycle (PDLC) can significantly improve the chances of delivering a successful and valuable product. Here are some best practices for the software development process:
By following these best practices, you can navigate the Product Development Life Cycle more effectively, maximizing the chances of delivering a successful and impactful product that delights your target audience.
The software product development process is a comprehensive, multi-stage journey that commences with the inception of your idea and continues until it transforms into a fully realized solution. Navigating these steps requires considerable effort but ensures software projects’ success. At Relevant, we follow this roadmap daily, and you, too, can benefit from it. Contact us if you aim to create IT solutions that embrace digital transformation and drive innovation.