From a five-year-old using a tablet, to a sixty-year-old grandmother Skype-ing with her grandkids, technology supported by software is all around us.
We use it daily to make our lives easier, but the average person never thinks about how difficult it was to create.
Or how many software technology projects go under because of poor execution, or bad management of budget and resources.
The Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) is a structured plan for software engineers to develop a product.
These software development processes and procedures intend to make projects run smoothly, on-time, and on-budget.
But it doesn’t always go according to plan. (Why can’t it always go according to plan?)
Challenges await at every stage of the SDLC.
In this article we’ll talk about software development processes and procedures, and suggest ways to increase efficiency at every stage.
Step 1: What do we need, and can we actually do this?
Requirement gathering kicks the process off.
At this stage, the software development team and key stakeholders collect user, system, and functional requirements.
They’re gathered through studying existing systems, creating questionnaires, or conducting interviews with users and developers.
Here’s an example of how software requirements are laid out for all stakeholders to be on the same page.
Through a feasibility study, the team must analyze if a software can be developed to achieve their user requirements.
They also learn if the project is financially and technologically attainable.
It’s crucial to recruit the right talent with the set of skills and experience that will help you gather the best information.
Talk to the best people, and ask smart questions, and your project will be off to a good start.
Step 2: Drawing the Map
The design stage involves using the requirements from the first stage to create the layout and architecture of the software.
It forms the base for the phases of software development that follow.
It also outlines what hardware and system requirements will be needed to run the software.
Here’s an example of a “map” of a software.
Study and scrutinize different models using the requirements you gathered in step one.
Maybe you’ve developed a similar project before so you’re comfortable using the waterfall model.
Or maybe you like the methodical iterative model.
Just keep in mind it can take up a lot of resources.
You’re selecting the strategy for developing your software so make sure you choose the best one for your project.
Step 3: Bring the Design to Life
Once the system design documents are received, programmers can convert the design into code.
Of all the software development processes and procedures, this phase is the most time-consuming.
It can take even more time if you don’t take our suggestion.
I can’t think of anything worse for a developer than a machine crash that wipes out days, or (gulp) weeks of hard work.
Smart developers make it habit to backup their work hourly.
Step 4: Time to Test
Once the code is developed, you need to see if the product is working as intended.
During the testing stage, quality analysts test the software for bugs and glitches.
Testing in itself has a process, and it’s pretty complicated too. See chart below. We will cover this in the future.
Essentially, you have to plan and possibly create the test before you diligently report the results.
You can increase efficiency by planning your tests during the coding phase, as well as using automated tools that can catch glitches as early as possible.
Step 5: Cut the Umbilical (But not completely)
Part of the deployment stage overlaps with testing.
The product first undergoes beta testing by customers.
In this part of the deployment, the development team hopes to catch more bugs that they can fix before the product is fully deployed.
Create a thorough deployment plan and checklist to avoid failure during deployment.
Include items like determining your key performance indicators and monitoring them.
Then watching your key database queries, and performance.
Step 6: Taking Care of Your Users
The final step in the long list of software development processes and procedures is operations and maintenance.
Once the software product is designed, tested, and deployed, you’ll need to attend to issues brought up by your customers.
Hopefully, your rigorous testing eliminates big problems after deployment.
But a few issues will pop up here and there.
Create a process for supporting your users and their problems.
Use customer resolution software, tracking mechanisms, and clear lines of communications with your maintenance team to streamline the way you handle your customer’s issues.
Step 5.5: Celebratory Piece of Cake
We neglected to mention a half-step between deployment and maintenance.
Going through all of the software development processes and procedures is no joke.
You deserve a pat on the back, and a slice of cake.
Two slices if you did it efficiently.