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Software Product Development Life Cycle: Top Effective Ways

  • 18-19 min read
  • September 20, 2021
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Software product development is a massive and complicated process that consists of several clearly defined steps that are commonly called software development life cycle (SDLC). The number of details this process includes is really vast and varies depending on the project specifics. Hence, we have decided to gather the most effective ways of organizing the software product development life cycle here in our latest article. Besides, we prepared a unique checklist for you on how to choose a reliable tech partner for developing a solution for your organization. 

Effective steps of Software Product Development

The key to successful software development and deployment is defining the core problems that should be resolved with the solution and an accurate plan on how to reach the set goals. We managed to gather vital steps that should be taken before the actual development process that sometimes can be wrongly skipped.

Problem definition and analysis

Since software implementation aims to optimize the process of a particular organization and enhance its productivity, the first step implies defining what issues are blocking and inhibiting the company’s growth. It is important to find the core problems so that the development team doesn’t waste time focusing on resolving minor things.

Each problem has to be deeply analyzed in order to figure out its main causes and components so as to find the most suitable solution for it. Sometimes serious problems can seem superficial at first, so it is important to properly research each side. 

Idea Generation

This phase is all about the discussion and learning the problems and their analysis by the development team to transparently document them. All issues can be split into different groups that demand different ideas about solutions. Versatile discussion lets the team observe each problem from different perspectives to better understand its source. Combining all this knowledge provides generation ideas on how to solve the counted issues in an all-in-one solution. 

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App estimation
Learn the effective ways of how to prepare for the app estimation properly from our fresh blog post. 

Decision making

This is the last step before planning and dividing projects into sprints and tasks. In a previous step, the team generates several solutions to the defined problems so as to select the most appropriate one for your case. The solution is going through a particular list of acceptance criteria based on the requirements of your business. 

Planning

This phase includes accurate planning of the future development process describing it step-by-step in specifications docs to get the expected final result. The plan consists of larger parts that are called sprints due to Agile methodology. In turn, sprints are subdivided into smaller parts – epics, user stories, themes, and initiatives. Project decomposing makes the development process clear, transparent, and accurate. 

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Agile methodology
Here you can find out more about the parts of the software project based on Agile methodology that GBKSOFT adheres to.

Design

Design is considered to be one of the most important phases that requires thorough attention from the development team as well as from stakeholders. It is the process of converting all specifications into design specifications meaning it shows how the product requirements are feasible and how the solution`s features will actually be developed and function appropriately. This phase is high time to encounter the suggestions from the clients or developers and make the right amendments before the start of coding. 

Watch a brief overview of how the software product development planning actually flows from the video we added below.

Development and testing

As all product specifications are clearly defined and agreed upon, it is time to start the actual coding based on the software project requirements. This process is not complicated in terms of accurate execution of the previous steps of the software development procedures meaning every part of the project will easily come together with the experienced team of developers. 

Just as all development tasks are performed and the final solution is ready, it is the very moment for the testing phase that actually defines the successful implementation of the solution for your business. QA specialists perform a particular set of different tests to try out the functionality of the system and figure out if everything works as it has to. Testing lets the team fix errors and bugs before the final product deployment and avoid potential problems in the work of the solution that would be much harder to solve after the implementation phase of the SDLC. 

App legal requirements

Considering the legal requirements in software development is obvious for any type of solution. Learn more about the app’s legal requirements and their importance from our blog post.

Deployment and maintenance 

The process of integration of custom software into an organization will not take much effort and time as it was designed specifically for your particular needs from the outset. This is one of the main benefits that custom development brings as you 100% know how your product has been created from the very beginning to the actual launch. The testing step makes the deployment even smoother as you can be sure that your system works perfectly well and does not go against or interrupt your internal business processes.

Since the software is due to become outdated and nonfunctional after some time, you should think about continuing cooperation with your development team or ask for forming a maintenance team for your product. What profits does this option give you? Well, you don’t have to worry about expanding or changing the functionality of your product on your own in case of need. All you will have to do is to ask your maintenance team for some product improvements like integration of the latest tech trends, systems scaling, adding new features, etc. 

You can also check out the maintenance services we provide at GBKSOFT. We offer different maintenance packages that vary depending on the software product specifics.

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Challenges in software development life cycle

Even with an accurately planned software product development, this process still remains partially unpredictable and risky. However, all these risks can be considered and mitigated with the help of the experienced development team. Therefore, we also would like to mention and discuss the most widespread challenges that you may face during the stages of software development.

Absence of clear specifications and plan

The development process has to be guided from the discussion of problems to the ultimate implementation and deployment of the product(s). However, a successful launch is actually impossible if the development team does not have a clearly defined product management plan that usually includes specification docs, product roadmap, and integration plan. It helps to execute all set tasks in time without wasting resources and money. 

Diminishing the necessity of market research

The product goals should coincide with the customers’ expectations from this product. This information becomes available only after holding sufficient market research before the start of the development life cycle. Such marketing research aims to analyze the current market environment in your industry, check competition’s comparable products and features, figure out what customers require, and satisfy these requirements with your solution. Surely, you don’t want to develop a product that nobody wants to use, so market research is a must. 

Underappreciating the importance of the design phase

Design and development are two indivisible phases of software product development. Software product design is an important part of the project just as is coding, testing, and so on. It is vital to deliver the design that corresponds to the client’s requirements, meets users’ expectations, and coding feasibility. A wrong or incorrectly picked product design can become evident at later stages of the development process that consequently lead to delays, time, effort, and money loss. 

Incorrect choice of technologies and developers

To avoid the wrong choice of technologies (tech stack) used in developing your product, you should pay close attention to selecting the right software development team. This task is quite challenging as the variety of software development companies is extremely large. However, we have several tips for you on how to properly check the development team before making a final hiring decision:

  • Check how the company is doing on the market
  • Learn their main industry of operation and what their technical expertise is like
  • Look for feedback from previous clients and read about their projects
  • Check their portfolio and what kind of functionality the team had developed
  • Try to find out about the level of sophistication and seniority of developers that will be involved in your project by looking up their profiles on Linkedin or other similar professional social media websites
  • Ensure that the company provides regular communication and updates in the form of reports on completed parts of your project
  • Ask for the documentation package the company offers and check its transparency.

Benefits of Agile methodology in SDLC

At GBKSOFT, we prefer following the so-called Agile methodology, particularly Scrum in the software product development life cycle. And further, we would like to demonstrate to you why this scheme is always beneficial and the preferred way to develop custom software. 

Moreover, it is worth mentioning that within Agile methodology, Scrum is considered to be the most popular and the most frequently used framework for developing software products. It can be used for small projects as well as for huge and complex software development undertakings that can be easily managed due to the fluidity and flexibility of this Agile methodology. So why is Scrum so widely used for developing software solutions? Among the core benefits of this methodology that are worth noting are:

  • The fact that software projects are divided into several parts means that all of these parts are being developed and tested simultaneously, which means they are independent of each other, work doesn’t stop and deadlines can seamlessly be met. Any part of the project can be tested and changed during the development stages (between sprints), rather than after all project tasks are executed like in waterfall methodology for example.
  • The initial project scope can easily be updated or upgraded even after the development flow has already started. However, all these changes should be made against the constraints set by clients like deadlines, budget, etc. but these restrictions vary from project to project and client to client.
  • Scrum provides the ability to prioritize tasks from most to least important. It depends on what product features should be integrated at first so you don’t have to wait till the end of the development. 
  • Scrum software product development is all about teamwork where everyone stays involved and focused on tasks and the quality of their performance as the success of the future product depends on each of them. However, all of these should be under clear lines of command of the Scrum manager who controls the whole development process and keeps the clients informed about its updates. 
  • In Scrum, clients can change the project scope, add or delete some pieces of functionality, partially change the design concept and requirements as during the development process they can encounter new problems that require quick solutions. Thus, all these options lead to higher customer satisfaction and better general experience working with a software development team. 

MVP as a great booster of software development effectiveness 

Minimum viable product (MVP) is tasked with providing the first users with the bare functionality to see if the developed solution is able to fix the initial problems. It allows us to test the software product effectively and get feedback from users but with lower risks of failure, less expensive, and quicker. MVP approach helps to see how the solution works on basic functionality to continue adding more functions to the future software product and be sure that each of them will work correctly. 

At GBKSOFT, we always recommend our clients think about starting the project from MVP. The integration of a new software system is not always a simple and quick process. MVP is the same system but with quite limited functionality that shows how suitable and convenient the solution really is and what changes should be carried out in order to meet all client`s and future users` requirements after the full deployment is said and done.

GBKSOFT success story: Highrise Expeditors

The list of the software product development life cycles performed by the GBKSOFT team goes on virtually forever. Thus, we decided to single out a success story and talk about one of the large software projects that we are really proud of. The solution we will talk about was created based on the needs of Highrise Expeditors – the company that monitors and resolves complaints from residents of certain real estate facilities. 

Highrise offers services that are kind of rare in the real estate industry. How does it actually work? You may know that not all lessors are reliable and ready to help and resolve the problems of their tenants in light of the signed contracts. Highrise is responsible for monitoring such cases to force real estate owners to grant appeals in cases of violations. 

Highrise Expeditors

Therefore, all their workflows were handled manually like contact management, complaint management, tenants and lessors notifications, payments tracking, and so on. As the number of tenants that use Highrise continues to grow, the owners of Highrise felt the need to automate the daily processes in order to deliver better and quicker services and decrease the routine workload of employees, freeing up their time for other, perhaps more value-adding activities or commitments. 

Since the main problems of the Highrise company were clearly defined, our team brought the following solutions to fruition:

  • automate the data collection about new complaints from the NYC DoB website;
  • automate the payments and record all billing information in the database;
  • send notifications to tenants and lessors about the status of their cases;
  • the ability for lessors to subscribe to this property management system to monitor their real estate facilities.

Checklist on how to choose a reliable Software Vendor

Software product development life cycle is a scalable process that includes so many details and peculiarities that it is pretty hard to bear all of them in mind. The most responsible step in this process is choosing and hiring a reliable and trusted software development team who has vast experience in leading the software development through all stages to get a desirable end product. 

Hence, our highly skilled Scrum master has prepared a checklist of things that you obviously have to consider when choosing a vendor for the development of your custom software solution.

Stage 1: Expectation forming

Every successful project starts with a qualitatively formed expectation. No matter how well the team performs and how good the result is, if the end product doesn’t meet the business needs and is out of budget, a great idea could turn into losses. So, first of all, we would strongly recommend starting with a description of the needs, goals, and expectations.

#1 Define the exact business need or the issue you would like to find a solution for

For example, reason (the story behind): My income decreased greatly due to a COVID-19 lockdown. Sailing my products offline is not effective anymore. 

Potential solution: I would like to digitize purchases by opening an online store so I: 

  • do not lose my regular customers
  • could offer discounts to the new clients
  • can expand my business to the new regions by a product delivery option

#2 Define the expected project budget

I would point out here that a common mistake of many businesses is investing all the money in a project at once. Most of such businesses often ignore the maintenance stage which should become a permanent satellite of any project after the initial release. Every project would need support, improvements so it’s a wise decision to consider and plan these costs from the very beginning.

#3 Define the expected project deadline

Does the project depend on the industry event and should be delivered by then? Are there other influencing factors for the project delivery date? Having answers to the above questions would help you a lot on Stage 3 of our checklist. But in the meantime, we move on to the next and not the least one – Stage 2 (Market research).

Stage 2: Market research

#1 Get familiar with Clutch and build up a list of companies

Nowadays, Clutch is a world-class platform in the IT industry that could be a great tool for market research.

Build up a list of 10-15 companies (more than this number might complicate deep research and cause a loss of the important details). These companies should match the following criteria: 

  • Provide the required services like, for example, web and/or mobile development;
  • Offer the services within the expected budget. 

But do not be afraid to consider the companies that are a bit more expensive than expected. More experienced and expensive teams could offer a solution that would save the budget or simply implement the project within a less number of hours or provide work of a higher quality. 

  • That, in most cases, saves a part of the initial budget and reduces future spending on support;
  • Consider the companies’ ratings and reviews;
  • It is also a great benefit if the company has experience with projects in your business field or industry.

#2 Open to the companies’ websites and go through their portfolios

It would help a lot to understand the quality level and complexity of the completed projects as well as give you more details about the workflow, the best practices the team performed as well as problems that arose and how they were resolved.

#3 Examine the companies’ websites

If the website looks outdated, of low quality, or not user-friendly then more likely the company is one step back from the current trends and wouldn’t be able to apply the best practices to your project too. 

Stage 3: Negotiation

#1 Give a preference to the companies that offer a turnkey delivery

In any case, the project would definitely require your attention and a high level of involvement, especially in the beginning. So it would be a wise point to avoid extra headaches and deliver all the technical questions to the experienced specialists. We would strongly recommend focusing on those companies who would be able to cover all the stages of the project life cycle by providing all the services from consulting and converting the business needs into specifications to the maintenance after release. 

This is also one of the key benefits that could help you save the budget. Because the team would be working together shoulder to shoulder, understanding each other from half of the sentence and having an opportunity to resolve all the questions and brainstorm tasks right away with no gaps and delays in communication.

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Software project budget
Here is a descirption of our approach to budgeting software projects in GBKSOFT.

#2 Do not be afraid of the discovery stage

A mistake at the beginning of the project could cost a lot. Starting with a discovery stage would give you an opportunity not only to try how the work goes with this vendor and how comfortable you are with the team. It also helps to mitigate risks related to the project technologies, misunderstandings in the project requirements, estimation of the final project cost and the delivery dates, etc.

It also helps a lot to convert an idea into a specific solution and to make sure that you (as a client) and the company (as a vendor) are on the same page with a scope of work, tasks, and the final expected results. Experienced and professional companies would always suggest starting with a discovery stage.

#3 Discuss the conditions and the type of the contract

There are different types of contracts like Time & Material, Dedicated team, Range Cost, Mixed types, and so on.

Depending on the project phase, the expected budget and timelines, the scale of the project and its length, industry, and many other factors, the project wins only with a suitable contact type. Discuss all the pros and cons of each, try to give as many details about your project and expectations as possible, do not hesitate to ask questions, and clarify all the points. 

Every detail would help the account managers to see a clear picture of the case and to get back to you with an offer that would be beneficial for the project for the initial stage and further on.

#4 Pay attention to how the company’s representative communicates

  • Does the representative communicate with a camera turned on?
  • Are there any delays in communication?
  • Are the principles of business communication followed?
  • Is all the information provided in a clear format and with understandable language?

A list of such questions is almost endless. However, sometimes paying attention to such detail could tell you even more about the company than 100 successfully delivered projects in the portfolio. 

Pro tip

Word of mouth could simplify the whole process of the vendor’s search. A recommendation of the company could lift the veil of its internal processes, strong and weak points, pros and cons.

FAQ

The variety of software development teams is surely great. But you need to pay attention to details not to get confused and make the wrong choice. These details are the company`s portfolio, previous experience, industry and technical expertise, duration in the modern tech market, etc.
All steps of the software product development cycle is interrelated and depend on each other. It is vital to follow them by turns to get the result that you expect. You cannot avoid any phase of the development process if you want to get a successful product launch.

Conclusion

The software product development life cycle includes lots of stages and peculiarities that are variable due to the variability of project demands and specifics. However, software development steps are consistent and depend on each other so each of them should be considered and processed properly. Forming an accurate plan helps mitigate potential risks before and after the implementation phase and get the expected final results.

Of course, unpleasant surprises do happen occasionally, but with a well-thought-out strategy, you will be well-prepared for most of them. It is just what the software development team is responsible for – building the right scheme for your solution and a step-by-step guide on reaching the set goals, and, last but not least – following through on those ambitions. 

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Entrust the development of your custom business app to the GBKSOFT team.

Let’s discuss and hash out the details of our future cooperation on your project.

Creator

Due to my Master`s Degree in journalism, I focus on the details while doing the research on the topic. My particular curiosity is about the latest mobile app developments that start in 2015 that make life easier and save much time to spend it more productive. I am an expert in reviewing and consulting web projects related to web applications, especially if they are connected with wearables.
Valeriia Dukhan

Expert

The project manager who is not afraid of challenges and is absolutely sure that the only way to success is actions. Experience of work with complex and high-loaded projects proved that impossible is nothing. So let's make your dream come true together!
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