If you aren’t a software developer, you may not grasp the full complexity of the software development process.
Let’s say you have a stellar idea for a new mobile app, or you need to upgrade your business’s legacy software with the latest tech.
There’s just one problem: you don’t have anyone on your team that can do the work.
Time to hire a developer, right? Not so fast.
Building software involves far more than just hiring someone who can write code. Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a team to create a software application or mobile app.
Let’s look at the complexities of the software development process.
Why You Need a Team
In addition to a developer, you’ll need to fill a few other roles to get your software built successfully. At a minimum, you’ll need a team that consists of:
- A product manager to gather all the requirements that need to be met and prioritize the work to be done
- A team of developers, each specializing in the best technologies for their portion of code (UI/UX design, architecture, front-end development, etc.)
- A quality assurance (QA) team to test every deliverable and find bugs
The product manager will meet with you to lay out the product requirements. The whole team will hold regular meetings with you to discuss the state of each core build. The purpose of these meetings is to keep you updated on the progress made and potential roadblocks the team may face.
How the Team Works
An experienced software development team often uses an Agile development methodology for project management.
Agile development is a term covering a set of frameworks and practices where the focus is on the people doing the work and how they work together, especially when frequent changes and uncertainties are involved. Solutions progress through collaboration between self-organizing cross-functional teams.
Development teams prefer Agile because it enables them to be highly productive. The team organizes the work themselves, so they can keep their focus on the most valuable development activities. Because of this self-direction, Agile teams keep nonproductive efforts to a minimum.
How the Software Build Process Works
The first phase of software build process is the discovery phase. At this point, the team focuses on learning and refining the business goals for the product. They also discuss the user needs and draw up a product requirements document. This document provides you with a high-level estimation of the work involved, the timeline for completing that work, and a specific definition of “Done”—in other words, what the product will look like when the work is complete.
Next is the design phase. During this phase, UI/UX designers create initial concepts and create wireframes of what the user interface might look like. Developers begin to architect the entire project in this phase, as well.
The design phase often includes prototyping, but sometimes this is treated as its own phase. Regardless, a prototype advances the product from theory to form. It’s often the first look you get at what was previous just an idea in your head.
How the team approaches prototyping varies. Some teams prefer to create a simple sketch on paper to ensure they’re on the right path before spending too much time and effort. Others like to build something more functional and interactive.
Which approach the team takes may depend on the product’s complexity, as well; a simple product might be easier to build as a functioning prototype.
When Does the Development Begin?
With the prototype approved by the stakeholders, the project moves into the development and testing phase. In this phase, the team begins to build your product. Agile teams release verifiable code early and often, getting stakeholder and user feedback after each sprint.
Sprints begin with planning and estimating the work to be done during the sprint, which is most often a two-week period. Then the team develops the features that they chose to complete in the sprint. Unit and user testing also happens after the developers complete their work on each feature.
At the end of each sprint, the team delivers and demonstrates their work, implementing changes as needed and collaborating with you and other stakeholders to minimize the cost of change.
Once all the work is complete and you approve the final product, the team deploys the project to production (according to agree-upon project milestones and business conditions). The product is then tested in production, and the team gathers and publishes the release notes. At this point, the team declares the project “done.”
After the product is released, the support team takes over, providing ongoing monthly maintenance and user support. Although this is technically after the development process ends, many teams include support in the software development lifecycle.
Great Software Takes a Team
If you started out thinking a single developer could turn your idea into great software, you now have some idea of how complex the software development process is.
It’s not as simple as hiring a single developer. You need to hire and onboard an entire team to bring your app to life. That hiring process will take time, and it won’t be cheap to get the expertise you need.
You may find that hiring a custom software or mobile app development company is a faster and more cost-effective way to get your solution built. By outsourcing the work, you get a ready-made team with the skills and processes you need already in place.
And that means you get your stellar app idea to market faster.