Used within the software industry, the software development cycle involves designing, developing and testing software. Following this cycle help to ensure the work is of high standard, is completed on time and within budget.
For any company that is thinking of having a custom software system or mobile application developed, it is a good idea to gain a basic understanding of the software development cycle. Here we’re going to break down the stages of the cycle so you can understand how your software developer’s workflow will impact your project.
What is it?
When building software applications, the software development cycle offers between six and eight steps to help plan the procedure. Companies may opt to drop or combine a few of these steps, but you can expect to see most of the following included in any software development cycle:
The software development cycle is used to improve processes and helps you to ensure each stage is fully completed before moving onto the next one. This helps companies work more effectively and can result in reduced costs in the long run. By identifying issues early on, the process will finish on time, and fewer issues will appear further down the line. Companies may choose a software development model or methodology to use alongside this cycle, such as Agile or Waterfall.
Let’s take a look at the most commonly used stages in the process. As every custom software system or mobile application is unique, your software developer may want to combine or drop any of these stages. This will depend on the requirements for your application, the timeframe you are working towards, and the intricacies of your project.
Requirements and Planning
Defining requirements is critical before beginning any work and will allow you and your software consultant to determine exactly what will be included in your software system or application.
The software consultant will then work with the project manager and other leaders to establish the initial requirements and look at the timetable for the project and the labour, to establish the full costs involved. This can then help them to create the appropriate team for the work. During this stage, you will still be involved to provide feedback and offer suggestions for the app or software. By the end of the initial phase, you should have a clearly defined purpose for the project.
During the design stage, your developer may produce a prototype of the product. Your software developer’s senior team members will look at the architecture of the software, the user interface, and the various platforms you’ve selected to run your software on. A prototype will be the earliest model of your software, which will give you and your team a basic idea of what it will look like and how it will work. You can then give feedback at this stage to improve the application, which will save you time and money further down the line.
With an established development team that are ready to begin writing your program, coding can start. The complexity of your project will determine how long the development stage lasts. The development team will use instructions and documents created from previous stages to ensure they are coding to meet your requirements. Many companies begin compiling user guides and FAQs during this stage as they come across issues and questions during development.
Testing is a very important part of the software development cycle and can be manual or automatic. Sometimes it is also necessary to test the software in a specific environment to ensure the accuracy of the build. Developers test each function to make sure there are no issues ready for release.
Deployment is the process of releasing the software so it can be used by staff and/or customers. This stage is often automated using pipelines that make it easier for your developer to release and update your software.
If you are just uploading an app to an application store deployment can be simple. However, deployment may be more complex if you are upgrading a huge company database or involving other systems.
The maintenance stage begins after the product is deployed and is normally the final stage of the project. This stage may also involve future releases, however, most often, this will start a new development cycle. If your project was based on an Agile model, you’ll return to the start of the lifecycle again. Your development company will then begin working on the next release.
The software development cycle generally involves a combination of all the above steps. Testing and maintenance are two steps that some companies often overlook but are critical for to the success of a project.
The software development cycle helps your developer to create a smooth development process. It gives the project structure enabling the developers to provide regular updates and precise timeframes. At BSPOKE Software we use the software development lifecycle as we have found that it improves user satisfaction.
To find out more about custom software, contact the BSPOKE Software team.