If you’re about to start a web or software development project that you hope will take your business to the next level, you might be surprised to learn that the software development lifecycle begins long before the project build happens.
For software development companies, the software development life cycle (SDLC) technically begins once the customer has committed to the company. The SDLC refers to the actual framework of tasks and milestones that the developer’s project team will create.
But for you, the software development process begins the day you decide your business can benefit from an investment in technology to improve branding, streamline workflow or communications, or increase sales. At that point, you pick up the phone to connect with reputable companies that can help you not only create a strategy, but also build your custom web, mobile, or cloud computing solution.
Here are some tips to achieve the best possible project outcome through a better understanding of the software development lifecycle from start to finish.
Official phases of SDLC and the software development process
Each phase of the software development lifecycle has its own unique set of goals and milestones. It is critical that the solution provider you choose has a proven SDLC process to ensure delivery of predictable results. Although providers may use slightly different terminology to describe them, everyone should follow these five basic steps:
Discovery – Describe your business goals and requirements; identify market and audience opportunities; develop a strategic plan; perform an internal audit of resources and technology and, finally, summarize the scope of work of the project.
Design: outline the general plan of the project; design user experience; develop prototypes, conduct usability focus groups; outline the content of the site; develop test plans.
Construction -Build custom system; conduct reviews at all times; run internal QA tests, increase marketing efforts; develop a user acceptance test; develop a launch plan, develop a system training plan.
Launch: Execute a user acceptance test plan; system training; Delivery of system documentation.
Review -Review the success of the project; identify new opportunities; maintain all applications, plan downstream initiatives.
The free consultation
Once you understand the software development lifecycle and what you’ll be hiring a vendor to do for you, it’s time to begin the process of identifying potential solution providers.
If a company offers a free consultation, don’t hesitate to accept it! You’d be surprised how many people don’t take advantage of this golden opportunity to steer the conversation away from a sales pitch and get some important questions answered. You can hear about your customer successes and ask for customer references in your RFP later. Find out directly about their technical approach and delivery methodology, and ask a few specific technical questions to get an immediate idea of whether the company has the experience and reliability you need.
A reputable software solution provider that specializes in custom web development and software development should be highly qualified in several broad areas, ranging from strategic analysis, project management, and project documentation to project testing and maintenance, to help ensure up-to-date solutions and the ultimate success of your project. Having these features gives the company a deep understanding of the software development process and how it can be customized to best meet their needs.
Due to its potential complexity and the variety of technologies that may be involved, software development requires a highly systematic approach. Careful planning and a step-by-step process are the foundation for building and implementing an effective and reliable software solution. Listen closely to the details of how the company approaches each phase of the software development lifecycle to help you determine the thoroughness of each vendor’s process.
Every conversation you have will also contribute to the formation of an increasingly demanding set of business requirements. Even if you’re pretty sure what your business requirements might be, keep an open mind and listen to the professionals. You may just pick up a few ideas that will create long-term efficiencies for your business.
The Request for Proposal
After interviewing a handful of software solutions companies, you’ll find you’re ready to take the next step with one or two. Now is the time to provide as much information as you can to these potential solution providers in what is called a Request for Proposal (RFP).
RFPs typically include details of your brand positioning, all of your business functionality requirements, project vision and goals, a proposed timeline, a request for customer references, and details on software development methodology. .
Writing an RFP is a bit of an art form, but don’t be intimidated: When you provide as much information as you can and understand each phase of the software development lifecycle, you’ll greatly improve the accuracy of the proposal or scope of work. what you receive in return.
scope of work
Solution providers on your RFP mailing list will typically respond with a detailed Scope of Work (SOW) and estimate for the project. For highly complex projects, it is not uncommon to receive an SOW and estimate for just the discovery phase described above.
Often times, the discovery phase needs to take place in order for the vendor to better understand your business requirements and provide an accurate estimate for the entire project in case you want to move on to a full software development project.
Expect to pay between $10,000 and $30,000 for a detailed Discovery SOW and clear business requirements document. Please note that if you hire a custom software solution provider for a SOW Discovery, you are under no obligation to hire them for the entire project.
After completing an in-depth discovery, you will receive a detailed SOW and estimate for the entire project. Of course, the price will vary greatly for each individual project.
Get the most for your money from the software development process
Since most software development projects require substantial investments of both time and money, it is clearly in your best interest to choose a software development company with significant experience in custom software development and solutions. In addition to their advanced technical knowledge, a more experienced company can also help you strategize and make better project decisions—decisions that can bring you closer to your long-term goals, while also addressing multiple strategic marketing objectives.
Because website and app development is an evolution of technology, it’s also important to employ a company that stays ahead of the curve and embraces appropriate new technologies and platforms as they emerge.
With a clear understanding of the software development lifecycle process, and how to use that knowledge to inform your choice of development partner, your chances of enjoying a successful project are very high.