Successful custom software development relies upon consistent methodology and a well defined process. For this software developers utilize what is referred to as the software development lifecycle or SDLC. SDLC is essentially the process to development which aims to build the highest quality software as efficiently as possible. SDLC involves following a set of intricate stages which include strategy/planning, design, building, and deployment. There are a number of popular SDLC models, including the agile model, waterfall model, and spiral model. We will expand on those another time, as today we will focus on the stages and best practices of the software development lifecycle.
Strategy and Planning
This initial stage concentrates on defining the system to be built. For this you must ask yourselves what you want. During this stage its important to get input from all key stakeholders, from board members to end users. Anyone who has a vested interest in the product will likely have valuable input into what the software should provide. With valuable feedback, its time to define all the requirements. These are typically outlined in a detailed software requirement specification which outlines the overall plan for the project. It is important that the requirements are clear and well defined in order to set a solid foundation for the project.
This stage utilizes the software specification documentation to define a detailed roadmap of features and functionality known as user interface design. Designers typically begin the process through intricate wire-framing which showcases screen layouts and the movements between screens. It’s all about creating an ideal user experience. Once screen functionality is well defined, graphic designers can transform the blueprints into rich visual screens. These screens will become the basis for the development.
This next stage is when coding actually begins. Given the previous stages were completed in thorough detail this process should be smooth and efficient. Developers utilize the visual designs to implement features and functionality. Testing should be done as software development proceeds, not when it finishes. This is crucial, as it is vitally important to catch issues as coding progresses in order to cut down on unnecessary additional development time.
Now is the time to get your product in the hands of users! Congrats! But your work isn’t entirely complete. Once users are able to log some time it is important to ask for feedback. Maybe there are some features that could use an adjustment, or functionality that is not streamlined enough. There is always opportunity for improvement for the increased satisfaction of your users. Continuous improvement will help to increase and maintain engagement.