What are the stages of a custom software development process?

date: 14 April 2020
reading time: 6 min

What can you expect when commissioning custom software development? A complex and intricate process, creating digital products involves a number of different people and stages - which can often be confusing if it’s your first project.

The following is a guide to this process and what you can expect from each stage.  

Suits you – the bespoke software process 

There are hundreds of thousands of software products available on the market today, all of which can be bought quickly and easily online, but what if your business requires something a little different?  

As good as the ‘off the shelf’ software products are, they’re not ‘one size fits all’ and many organisations find themselves frustrated with the limits imposed by their existing products. For this reason, many companies are choosing to invest in custom software – products which are designed exclusively for their own needs and which, therefore, tick all the right boxes. Commissioning custom software development can, surprisingly, be less expensive and is a great solution for forward-thinking businesses. 

Sounds great – but how does it work? 

Firstly, you’ll need patience – custom software development is not an overnight job so, it’s a good idea to plan the project as far in advance as possible.  The second, and most important, step is to find your development team. A quick internet search will no doubt give you a huge number of developers in your area.  Check out the reviews in order to whittle the list down to a dozen or so. Once you’ve got your shortlist, perform the following checks:  

Step 1

Before you involve yourself in the project, do some research – browse through the website to check what other organisations the company is (or was) working with and review their case studies to find out more about their previous projects – obviously, the more positive references the better. You need to know that the company has the resources to design the architecture, develop your software but also to maintain and update it going forward. 

Step 2

Cultural fit and forming relationships with your potential team is a mark of engagement. Make sure that you meet with more than one company in order to gauge personality and ensure that you’re on the same wavelength. You’ll be working closely with these people for a while, so it’s important that they get you and vice versa.  

Step 3

Check their references. You wouldn’t hire a copywriter who works on a manual typewriter and you wouldn’t hire graphic artists without seeing samples of their work. Ask to see references, talk to previous clients, check the level of expertise and attitude – are the team members proficient in a given methodology or language? 

Step 4 

Taking accountability, responsibility and ownership of the solution are as important as being committed to the same goal and being invested in the project. Make sure to take these important qualities into account before signing on the dotted line. 

What happens next? 

Now that you’ve chosen your developer, you’ll be advised of the start date and approximate timeline. Although each developer is different, the stages of the software development process are generally similar.  

Stage 1 – Requirements Engineering

This vital stage consists of a series of meetings in order to discuss your project in detail and assess any risks which may be involved. The more effort you put into understanding users’ perspective, the closer your project will be to your business goals.

This stage will also include gathering requirements from your stakeholders, defining application flow, priorities and specifying tasks for the development team. This will help to identify and prepare for any possible changes which may appear during the development process, such as changes in technology and evolving requirements of the end-user.   

Stage 2 – Software architecture

Needless to say, the design of your new software is an integral factor and a good developer will prioritise this part of the process. During this stage, your software partner can design the entire architecture of your system, including interactions between components and limitations and requirements for source code.

This is a solid foundation for your software to manage its complexity. As a result, you will be presented with documentation presenting the architecture of your system textually and visually – in multiple views, from different perspectives and with different level of detail.

Stage 3 – Software Development 

At this point, you will generally get to sit back as the developer begins the work. Remember, that bespoke software should mirror your processes, but also incorporate your know-how and critical information so that it works the way you work and increases your efficiency.

The company you work with should understand the importance of your goals in each individual project and help you ensure that your end product differentiates you from your competitors. During this pivotal part of the process, the development team will regularly report their progress to you.

Stage 4 – Quality Assurance and software testing 

This stage usually happens simultaneously with stage 3 and involves quality assurance checks and testing. No one should be persuaded that putting as much emphasis as possible on the quality of developed software is important in order to ensure that the product meets the required quality specifications. 

This allows to save money – the detection of errors in the early stage of production reduces the necessity of introducing profound changes in the architecture of the programme in the later stages, i.e. writing entire components from scratch. Evading such issues is difficult to overestimate in terms of project budget savings.

Step 5 – Support & Maintenance 

Before you sign the contract you will, of course, have ensured that adequate support and maintenance were included in your package. Although your software is now up and running, it’s likely that there will be occasional problems and your developer will be on hand to fix any bugs or issues, refine the product and apply preventative measures to avoid future issues. 

The architecture, development and implementation of your new custom software may, at times, seem like a long and arduous journey with a number of diversions and red lights. However, with the right software development company that will walk you through the process, keep you fully up to date and explain each part of the process, you’ll be ready to wow with your own unique, bespoke software solution.  

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