Software development is associated with numerous challenges and risks. And when there is money on the line, you need to be sure of the product’s success. Explore the following points to find out how planning defines the efficiency of the development process:
- What makes for an efficient custom software development process?
- How to prepare for the software project with efficient planning?
- What are the basic steps of the software development process?
- What are the most popular development methodologies?
- What is an iterative software development process designed to do?
- How to prepare for the 5 common problems in the software development process?
In today’s digitized world, custom software development has become a huge enabler of business growth, providing companies across industry sectors with the tools for achieving their goals. However, the software product development process is associated with significant expenses and numerous risks that could potentially undermine the efficiency of your business.
That is why there has to be a systematic approach to guarantee the efficiency of the custom software development process, respect for the project timeline, and adherence to the budget without cutting corners.
As noted in the article by Forbes, only 23% of organizations use standardized project management practices, making software development projects notoriously difficult to manage for most organizations. As a result, one in six software development projects overruns its budget by 200% and its timeline by over 70%. Such overruns can deal a noticeable blow even to the largest players on the market while mid-size and small businesses may incur catastrophic problems that may threaten the organization.
So, how do you avoid these problems and ensure an efficient enterprise software development process? Let us look at how you can maximize the efficiency of the development process by applying relevant project management methodology, staying engaged in the process, and avoiding the major pitfalls along the way.
Why Does Software Product Development Matter?
No business can thrive without staying relevant, and it is impossible to stay relevant without investing in digital transformation. Ignoring digital transformation today can be the undoing of your business tomorrow, that is why you need to learn more about the option you have. One of the ways to do that is to opt for software development process consulting to find out how your unique business can benefit from the adoption of modern software solutions.
At its core, the software product development process is meant to produce a solution that adds value to your business. This can be a product you distribute to your audiences, a solution that helps you manage the organization, a platform that connects you with your customers, or literally any kind of software that benefits your business. In most cases, businesses pursue digital transformation for the following reasons:
- Introduce a new product to the market — many businesses go through the process of agile software development to create a product and sell it to audiences. The goal here is rather straightforward — create a software product that offers something new or outdoes the existing offer and monetize it. This product can be anything from an e-commerce solution to a dating app, as long as it sells and turns in profit, you win.
- Optimize business processes — similarly, businesses engage in the custom software development process to improve their functioning. For instance, a customer relationship management system (CRM) can improve the efficiency of sales teams, connect you with your customers, and cut manual labor. A new manufacturing execution system (MES) can improve the efficiency of a manufacturing facility. There are numerous ways you can power up your business through software development.
- Modernize and gain a competitive edge — any type of software gets outdated over time. That is where the need for software modernization comes into the picture. You may need to undergo the process of agile software development to modernize your legacy systems and improve your business performance.
- Reinvent the business as a whole — in some cases, businesses rely on digital transformation as the way to completely reinvent themselves. There are many businesses out there running on the old steam and struggling to stay afloat because of the desperately outdated practices. A total digital transformation can often bring new life to such organizations and not just expand their lifecycle but give them a fighting chance in the modern market.
Regardless of the type of product you try to develop, there has to be a method to it. You cannot just throw money at it and expect the product to just happen. The most important factor here is the experienced software development team that has the skills and knowledge to turn your idea into a functional product that brings the results you expect.
How to Initiate a Product Development Plan
The software product development process can be associated with significant financial risks as you’d be throwing tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars at this project. And you cannot approach such a considerable investment without a proper understanding of the whole process. You need an action plan that considers your project goals, timeline, and budget, as well as all the minor details associated with the development of the software product. Here’s a software development process flow diagram that represents the major stages of development:
- Idea generation — you are probably past that step now if you read this. You probably have a general idea of what your product is going to be like or at least a general direction in which you are going to go. However, the idea has to be validated by an expert team. To choose a reliable technology partner, you might want to see a software development process example of a similar project the team has worked on and ask for their opinion on your ideas. If you are not a technical expert, you will need some help from people who worked on similar projects in the past to validate your ideas and tell you how you can best achieve your goals.
- Requirements analysis — your development team will have to analyze your requirements and see how they can achieve them on a reasonable budget without cutting corners. Non-technical individuals often lack an understanding of how long it would take to develop certain features or how much money it would take. Technical experts will match your requirements with the technical capabilities and a target budget to give you an understanding of what can and cannot be done.
- Product design — once all the requirements have been figured out, the next step in the enterprise software development process is to design a product. What features is it going to have? What is it going to look like? How will the users interact with the product? All these questions and more will be answered at this stage.
These are the first three stages of the custom software development process, and they are mostly focused on planning out the development itself. A reliable software development partner will conduct a discovery phase to identify all the specifics of your business, its needs, market and technology landscape, and threats that may impact your organization. These are critical steps that transition into the development process.
Software Product Development Process
After a thorough discovery, your software team will have all the information for launching the development process. This is a natural continuation of the discovery phase that leads you to accomplish the goals of the project. Each step represented in the software development process flow diagram contains a variety of sub-points that will be uniquely designed to match the needs of your unique business:
- Product development — this is where you go through all the agile software development process steps. We begin an iterative development process that includes the development, testing, fixing, and deployment of each sprint.
- Integration and testing — again, this is one of the agile software development process steps that repeat each spring. Each new code snippet is going to be integrated into the codebase and tested by the QA experts.
- Deployment — once the new code snippet has been tested and approved, the team will deploy it and introduce the new features to the product. As always, this process can be repeated to bring new iterations to the code and improve the product over time.
- Maintenance — once the development, testing, and deployment stages are done, a reliable software development partner will continue to maintain your product in accordance with a negotiated agreement.
These are the basic and the most common agile software development process steps that most software developers use across industry verticals. Though agile methodology is used here to showcase a software development process example, other methodologies can be used in different business contexts.
Different Software Product Development Methodologies
The secret to successful software product development is the right management methodology that fits your business context, budget, timeline, and requirements. To successfully deliver upon your expectations, your software development team must apply the right methodology to emphasize your business strengths and mitigate its weaknesses. There are several routes you can go:
- Agile process for software development — agile is a development methodology that allows the teams to minimize the development risks and quickly respond to bugs or changing requirements. The development process occurs in sprints, and each of these sprints produces certain deliverables. These deliverables can be altered during the following sprints keeping the development process dynamic and allowing for quick fixes and changes along the way.
- Waterfall development methodology — this is the most traditional and straightforward approach used in software development. It is a linear and rigid model in which all the development experts work toward a single goal throughout the custom software development process. Though widely criticized by the adepts of agile, this methodology is quite efficient for projects with clearly defined goals.
- Rapid application development — the core idea of rapid is in the name. The methodology is a perfect fit for short-term projects with low investment costs. Again, the methodology is perfect for quick development with fast iterations and well-defined goals ahead.
- DevOps methodology — DevOps is meant to bridge the gap between the development and operations teams and make the development process more efficient as a result. DevOps is more about the organizational culture that fosters fast decision-making, breaks the walls between the team members, and ensures the efficiency of the development process. It cuts the inefficiencies in communication and speeds up the development process.
Each of the above has its benefits and its flaws, and the choice of methodology often depends on the specific needs of your organization. It is worth mentioning though that agile methodology is easily the most popular and the most efficient choice for most projects these days. This methodology is used not only in software development but in management as a whole and provides numerous benefits and opportunities for software development process automation.
5 Common Problems in the Software Development Process
Approaching any software development project requires a precise understanding of the possible pitfalls along the way. This knowledge allows you to prepare for possible challenges and address them before they snowball into project-threatening problems. Here are some of the common problems of the custom software development process:
Unclear or Changing Project Requirements
One of the main and first mistakes you can make in software development process management is not setting up clear requirements for the project. There has to be a clear finish line, a specific set of requirements, and goals the team has to achieve by the end of the enterprise software development process. Also, it is best that the requirements stay the same throughout the development lifecycle.
Of course, requirements might change at times. Some projects might take years to finish, and the market waits for no one, and you can have some minor tweaks here and there. But the core idea of the product needs to stay the same, or it will become an entirely different project. It is impossible to make any substantial progress if you don’t know where you are going, so your main goal is to be always on the radar. Moreover, each change to the project scope or goal means changes in the budget and delivery timeline. A development team that applies the agile process for software development will be able to effectively introduce changes to the project with each iteration, but major and abrupt changes will always drag expenses and delays with them.
Inefficient communication is one of the primary causes of failures throughout the software product development process. Not having a clear line of communication between you and your team can cause disruptions in the software development lifecycle, human errors, lack of clarity, and other significant issues that can hinder the success of your product. Lack of proper communication can be caused by the language barrier between you and the development team as well, so you have to keep that in mind when choosing the right vendor.
Data Breaches or Misuse of Information
One of the critical problems related to cooperation with an external software vendor is the sheer amount of data you share with them. Oftentimes, it is sensitive information, client databases, financial reports, passwords, and other types of data you don’t want leaking outside of your organization. Signing an NDA is the most common and most effective solution for holding all the involved parties responsible throughout the custom software development process.
Underestimating the Importance of Quality Assurance
Quality assurance is as critical as the development itself, and it is an important aspect of the agile process for software development. QA experts check each iteration of the code and the entire product for any potential bugs and flaws. One of the most dramatic mistakes in software development process automation is underestimating the importance of automated testing.
Ignoring the Needs of the Target Audience
You cannot develop a product just for the product’s sake. Someone is going to use it, and you need to always keep the needs of those people in mind. Whether you develop a product for external or internal use, you need to understand what your users want to see in that product. In most cases, they want convenience of use, simplicity, comprehensive UI, and for the product to serve its primary function. And you should not forget that at any point throughout the software product development process.
Software development process management is not simple, but it does not have to be hard either. You need a reliable software development process consulting partner who can help you achieve the goals of your project, establish a clear action plan, and deliver the results you expect. Partnership with a reliable software development provider will play an essential role in the overall success of your project, and you have to choose a software vendor with the right experience in your industry and the talent pool to cover your needs.