- Software Development Process - Definition
- What are the Software Development Strategies?
- Stages of the Software Development Lifecycle
- What are the Common Problems During the Software Development Process?
- How to improve the software development process - 6 tips
- Optimize your Workflow
- Your Path to Excellence with Sunscrapers
Building software is a complicated process riddled with challenges at every corner. Even seasoned teams can fall victim to software development's common traps and inefficiencies.
A poorly defined and faulty process may compromise the product quality or result in significant delays. That's why efficient software processes and foolproof project management strategies are essential to any software development project.
Read this guide to learn more about the process of developing software and get battle-tested tips for optimizing the work of your project team.
Software Development Process - Definition
Software development is a process that aims to build software that meets the ordering party and end-users' unique company objectives.
But building software is much more than just writing code. The software development process involves several distinct steps: research, feasibility analysis, design, writing technical documentation, testing the application, and more.
All these tasks can be added to the software development lifecycle (SDLC). The software development lifecycle is a process that helps teams to produce solutions of the highest quality, lowest possible cost, and in the shortest timeframe.
To accomplish that, you need a plan that outlines how a team will develop, change, and maintain a specific software system.
SDLC serves as a blueprint for that. To help teams achieve their goals, the SDLC provides six distinct stages focusing on different process areas realized in a particular order.
Read our piece to learn why the Software Development Life Cycle is critical for outsourcing success.
What are the Software Development Strategies?
Software development strategies encompass a range of techniques, methodologies, and approaches that guide a development project from inception to completion. Some of the most widely used strategies include:
- Agile: A flexible approach that breaks the development process into short iterations, allowing quick pivots.
Read more about Agile’s Best Practices.
Waterfall: A linear and sequential approach, where each stage must be completed before the next one begins.
Scrum: A form of Agile that uses sprints for development phases and emphasizes teamwork and accountability.
Kanban: Uses a visual board to track the progress and manage workflow.
If you want to compare these 3, read our piece Agile vs. Waterfall vs. Scrum vs. Kanban.
- DevOps: Focuses on integrating development and operations to improve speed, efficiency, and quality.
To know more about DevOps, check our Tips for Successful Implementation.
Choosing the right strategy or a hybrid approach is critical for the success of any software development project.
Stages of the Software Development Lifecycle
Every software development lifecycle consists of the following 6 phases:
- Requirements gathering and analysis
- Design & Backlog refinement
Let's take a closer look at these stages to see what they focus on, their goals, and what teams can do to make the most of each phase.
Requirements gathering and analysis
This stage focuses on developing, collecting, and analyzing the software product's business requirements. This is mainly based on meetings where project managers, other stakeholders, and possibly end-users determine the system requirements.
They do that by answering questions such as:
- Who will be the software's end-user?
- How will they use it?
- What will be the input and output of the system?
- What problem will it solve?
These general questions allow the company to crystallize its ideas and perform the initial risk analysis. Once all the requirements have been gathered, it's time to analyze them.
This is where teams check requirements for validity and the possibility of implementing them in the system to be developed. It’s the foundation of a Requirements Specification Document, which serves as a guideline for the next phases in the software development lifecycle.
But that's not everything that happens during this stage. Once the requirements analysis is complete, the testing team should start planning test scenarios.
Design & Backlog refinement
In this stage, the team is ready to prepare a software design based on the Requirements Specification Document to determine the hardware system requirements and the overall system architecture.
What is the objective of this stage? Design specifications are the key product of this phase. They serve as a guideline for the next software development lifecycle, implementation, or coding stage. Once the designs are ready and accepted by the customer, the acceptance criteria are refined according to the flow to be in the product.
What about the testing team? The design phase is also the time when testers come up with a testing strategy where they specify what will be tested and how.
Once the design specification document is ready, it's time for all the stakeholders to review it and offer feedback and suggestions.
This is where the team receives the system design document and gets down to work. Most of the time, the work will be divided into different modules and units and further into tasks. It all depends on the software development lifecycle model the team chooses.
This is the phase where the actual solution is developed. It's also the longest phase in the software development lifecycle.
Suppose you follow all the previous steps carefully and deliver a comprehensive specification document. In that case, the development phase should be relatively straightforward, and the development team will be productive (except for some possible bumps on the road).
Once the code is ready, it needs to be tested against the requirements to ensure that the software product solves the problem of its end-users. During this phase, you can expect all kinds of functional testing like integration testing, unit testing, system testing, acceptance testing, design implementation testing, and many others.
This phase aims to test your software for errors and deficiencies. It's important to fix these issues until the product finally meets the original specifications. You wouldn't want to release a buggy solution to your customers.
Note: Depending on the SDLC model your team picks testing and development phases can go hand in hand depending on the SDLC model your team picks. This is the case in agile and lean approaches to software development, where the team develops products in small increments that are tested after each iteration.
Once the testing phase is over and successful, it's time to deliver the product to customers by deploying it. Deployment means that your system is made available to end-users.
It's smart to rely on an initial deployment phase before rolling out your solution to the public. As soon as that happens, the first users start testing your application. If they discover any required changes or bugs, they can report back to the team. And once everything is fixed, it's time for final deployment.
Don't expect the development process to be over once the product is shipped to customers. This is when the maintenance phase begins. You can be sure that some new problems emerge when end-users start using the system. These will have to be solved by the development team.
Caring for a developed product is important because no plan can turn out perfectly when it meets reality. Also, expect the conditions in the real world to change. Your software might require updates or advancements to match evolving company demands.
What are the Common Problems During the Software Development Process?
Forgetting about the needs of end-users
One of the key challenges in building software appears during the early stage of requirements gathering. Since this phase involves many parties, it's easy for the Requirements Specification Document to go astray - especially when the team follows the waterfall model of building software.
How to avoid it? Use models that encourage end-user participation in the process. Models like Scrum mitigate this risk because they increasingly involve the end-users with each iteration, ensuring the solution has a solid product-market fit.
Changes and late requests
Sometimes, project stakeholders suddenly request the feature because of a change in their vision. Other times, they simply realize a specific feature could be useful too late. A simple request like that could have huge implications for the development team.
How to avoid it? By gathering all the requirements and analyzing them in the early stages. What's more, involving the customer in the design & backlog refinement phase, and then conducting User Acceptance Tests. It's also smart to make the stakeholders understand the potential implications of such late requests.
Not enough time for testing
The team usually wants to ensure the software works by the initial vision. However, testing for security and bugs is just as important. Unfortunately, due to budget constraints or bad management, some teams get very little time for testing, which is often underestimated.
How to avoid it? Allocate testers enough time to test the product thoroughly. Otherwise, you cannot catch bugs or security issues before releasing your software to the end-users.
How to improve the software development process - 6 tips
Pick the right SDLC model
It all starts when choosing the model for your software development process. Here's an overview of the two most popular: Waterfall and the Agile software development framework Scrum.
Optimize your Workflow
The development team probably follows a workflow that has been established previously. But how can you tell that this workflow works well?
Here are the questions you need to ask to identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies in your process:
- Does your workflow include painstakingly slow stages?
- Is work piling up for a specific activity or user (or a group of users)?
- Are tasks repeatedly reopened after they have been marked as done?
- Do you see a lot of tasks that are killed before reaching the done status?
- By taking your workflow through the loop with your team a few times, you'll be able to answer these questions and improve your workflow.
"For example, you might discover that the product owner becomes a bottleneck because they're not dedicating enough time to the project or that the review step takes up most of a task's journey to completion. Once you know what's not working, you can start fixing it."
Kamil Sabatowski, former COO at Sunscrapers
Manage code quality
How will you manage and ensure the quality of your code? This is where the testing stage comes in. You might be fine with cutting back on testing time and gaining more resources to get more done in a shorter time. But by doing that you might be delivering poorly written software.
That's why it's best to allocate time for testing right from the beginning. By using automated tests, you can monitor small fragments of your solution and ensure that everything works as you scale your product.
To take your QA to the next level. This role supervises the software development process and ensures that developers and testers are perfectly synchronized.
"Engage your developers in creating unit tests and performing code reviews on each other's work. One of the best practices in software development is having at least two people examine code before it's shipped. Pair programming helps developers to reduce the number of errors and accelerate the speed of delivery."
Przemek Lewandowski, CTO at Sunscrapers
Have a clear definition of “Done”
The definition of “Done” is a set of criteria that ensure all the tasks are genuinely done when they're completed in terms of functionality and quality. For example, a definition of “done” can be a set of rules like the feature is implemented, the unit tests are passed, the documentation is ready, the QA has reviewed the feature, the code is in the master branch, and the code is deployed to production.
By developing a standard definition of “Done”, you will ensure that everyone on your team knows what it means when another team member says they're done with a feature. It's a battle-tested project management practice.
Such explicit criteria for completion will also reduce the number of situations where your team needs to reopen already completed tasks because of unmet criteria. It's better to spend some more time and complete a task once rather than having to revisit it several times to make fixes.
Build communication practices
You can avoid many problems in your software development process by investing time and energy into establishing solid communication practices.
Here are a few examples:
- Make sure that all the team members know which communication medium to use for what purpose.
- Set up daily meetings that allow developers to synchronize their efforts and report any potential blockers (in the Scrum framework, this is called the daily standup meeting).
- Establish a single point of contact between the development team and project stakeholders. That way, you are ensuring that the cooperation between these two groups runs smoothly, which is especially important if you've partnered up with a remote team.
Understanding and effectively implementing the Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC) is crucial for the success of any software project.
By following its structured stages—requirements gathering, design, coding, testing, deployment, and maintenance—you set a strong foundation for high-quality software. The development strategy choice, whether Agile, Waterfall, or another, should align with your project's specific needs for maximum efficiency.
Avoiding pitfalls like scope changes and poor user engagement and implementing best practices such as workflow optimization and effective communication can further enhance the software development process. A well-planned and executed SDLC can be the difference between a successful software project and a failed one.
Your Path to Excellence with Sunscrapers
Considering improving your software development process? With Sunscrapers, you have a partner who understands the technicalities and the strategies for improvement that make a difference. As the best software development company, we are dedicated to customizing our process to meet your specific needs for remarkable results.
Contact Sunscrapers today to discuss how we can help you turn your software development process into a streamlined, effective operation that achieves your business goals.