Simply put, software development is the process of creating, designing and deploying specialised computer programs. This highly skilled profession is made up of universally accepted technical stages that come together to form the software development process. Over time, this process has given way to a number of different methodologies and ways of operating.
Understanding these methodologies and each stage of the software development process is the key to grasping the different software development services available to your business and discovering which may be most beneficial to your brand. In this blog, we’ll explore how the development process works and what different types of software development methodologies exist, before looking at what software development services actually look like.
What is the software development process?
Also known as the software development life cycle, the software development process refers to the six major phases involved in creating computer programs. As we will go on to discuss, the ways in which this process works will differ depending on a programmer/agency’s personal preference, their chosen methodology, and the needs of their client. However, each step will still need to be followed. The six phases of the software development process are:
- Analysis of requirements. As the name suggests, this stage involves a detailed analysis of the software to identify the overall requirements of the client.
- Design. Following the analysis of requirements comes the design stage. Here, the basic architecture of the project is built. When done correctly, this step should set the benchmark for the entire project and remove any initial flaws.
- Development. At this point, specialist software developers start to actually work on the development process. Each and every component will be created at this stage and every functionality and feature will be built using code.
- Testing. Once the software has been developed, it’s time to test it. This stage sees all aspects of the program tested for errors, glitches and bugs. When these have been identified, the development team will work to iron them out.
- Implementation. The software has been created, developed and tested by this stage – now it needs to be deployed. During the implementation stage, the software will be rolled out and used for its intended purpose. This stage is key as it represents the first time most stakeholders will see the new software in action.
- Maintenance. The final stage of the software development process is ongoing maintenance. Typically completed periodically over the life of the software in question, this will include fixing any bugs or glitches that appear and overseeing general upgrades and maintenance over time.
What are the different types of software development methodologies?
There are various schools of thought when it comes to implementing the software development process. For this reason, when it comes to individual programmers and software development agencies, there are a number of contrasting methodologies each follow. These methodologies impact how they operate, affecting everything from workflows and chosen technical tools to internal processes and deployment strategies. For the purpose of this blog, we are going to look at the two of the most common methodologies – ‘Agile’ and ‘Waterfall’.
Considered a flexible and pragmatic software development approach, Agile development works by breaking a project into small, bite-sized chunks and concurrently working in small teams to quickly develop, create and deliver these individual aspects through incremental development.
As the project progresses, the idea is that any defects or bugs can be identified and fixed through the use of a constant testing and feedback loop. In theory, this model provides the best way to track development progress at each stage, helping to ensure that everything is running on schedule.
Thought of as the classic software development methodology, Waterfall development has been used since the mainstream birth of the field in the 1970s. A less pragmatic, more structured approach, this form of development sets out the stages of a project, from start to finish, as a group of cascading linear steps. This is to say, the initial analysis and requirements stages will be placed at the top of the ‘waterfall’, with the design, implementation, testing and maintenance phases separately placed on a linear scale.
This rigid structure tends to mean that separate, isolated teams work on their own specific stage of the project, with handover meetings held on a pre-planned basis. Although a more structured methodology than the Agile model, in recent years this approach has been criticised for its inability to adapt to solve problems associated with modern, more complex software development projects.
What are software development services?
Software development covers a lot of unique projects that tend to be tailor-made to meet the needs and wants of certain clients. For this reason, individual programmers and software development agencies typically offer a wide range of services. These usually include the following:
- General application development
- General mobile development
- General back-end web development
- General API development
- Business Process Management (iBPM) tool development
- Incident tracking system development
- Data management system development
- eLearning software development
- eCommerce and retail stock tracker software development
- Healthcare tracking software development