Software projects vary in duration from 1 to 9 months, with an average delivery time of 4.5 months and an average cost of $36,000.
A project with no clear software development strategy might take too much time and resources.
Furthermore, recent data reveals that 8.90% of software development companies encounter difficulties grasping client requirements, emphasizing the need for a well-thought-out strategy to ensure projects stay on track and meet their objectives.
In this article, we’ll provide everything you need to know about creating a solid software development strategy to streamline the processes and ensure timely delivery.
What is a Software Development Strategy?
A software development strategy is the master plan for your project.
It covers the initial brainstorming sessions and requirement analysis to the final deployment and maintenance.
This strategy should be comprehensive and reliable, so it generally involves:
- Understanding the project’s specifics
- Setting clear and realistic goals
- Choosing the proper development methodologies
- Considering the available resources and budget.
Why Do You Need a Reliable Strategy?
The main reason for having a reliable software development strategy is to avoid costly errors and delays caused by miscommunication or miscoordination.
It ensures that everyone involved, from developers to stakeholders, is on the same page regarding the project’s objectives and how to achieve them.
With a solid strategy, the software development process becomes more streamlined, leading to faster time-to-market.
It also ensures higher software quality, improved user satisfaction, and a product that aligns with the business’s vision and user needs.
Do These Before Making Your Software Development Strategy
Lay the groundwork before you make the strategy. Follow these six steps to ensure your preparation is on the right track.
#1. Understand Your Project’s Objectives and Requirements
Having a full grasp of what you aim to achieve with the software is important.
What problem does it solve? Who is it for? What features fall under the MoSCoW categories (must-have, should-have, could-have, and will not have right now)?
Let’s say you want to develop a mobile app for online shopping, and the main objective is to provide users with a smooth shopping experience.
This objective dictates the features the app should have features, such as:
- easy product search
- seamless checkout process
- secure payment gateways
- user-friendly navigation
Still, listing the features is only the first step.
Getting into the details, including how it should function and how it integrates with other features, is also important.
Such detailed requirements ensure that the development team knows exactly what they need to build, reducing the chances of rework.
#2. Identify Stakeholders to End Users Needs
Every software project has a range of stakeholders, from those who’ll use the software to those who’ll benefit from its success.
To start, begin to think from the end-users’ perspectives.
These are the people who’ll be using the software daily.
For our online shopping app example, end-users might want a feature to compare products or save items to a wishlist.
Other stakeholders may include the marketing team, sales team, or the support team that will assist users.
Each of them will have unique needs.
For instance, your marketing team may need analytics tools or APIs integrated into the app to track user behavior, while the support team may need a built-in chat feature to assist users in real-time.
#3. Assess Every Available Resource
Resources don’t only refer to your budget, but everything necessary at your disposal.
This includes the team’s skill set, software tools, and available time.
Assessing your team comes first by listing the experts in specific areas to help you build the software.
For instance, hire a developer who’s particularly skilled in a specific programming language or a designer with a solid background in user experience.
Recognizing these strengths early on can guide the project’s direction, confirming which tasks best suit them.
Next, set realistic timelines. Think of how long it takes to code, do testing, give feedback, and modify unforeseen challenges.
Having a clear picture of your time constraints helps in prioritizing tasks and setting achievable milestones.
Lastly, consider the software tools and technology.
Search for software tools that can streamline or automate certain processes, such as a project management tool to keep everyone on track or a testing tool to speed up the quality assurance process.
#4. Analyze Potential Risks
Every project has its set of challenges and risks.
Identifying these potential problems in the beginning can save you a lot of headaches in the future.
Consider having a brainstorming session with your team to generate various potential challenges, such as:
- A complex feature to implement or concerns about integrating the software with another system.
- External factors such as changes in market trends, legal requirements, or global events.
- Scope creep refers to a situation where the project’s scope expands beyond its initial objectives due to changing requirements or new ideas that arise during development.
- Unexpected issues, such as low engagement of stakeholders, and unmanageable scope creep.
In addition to planning for known risks, allocate a portion of your budget and timeline for unexpected issues, such as low engagement of stakeholders, and unmanageable scoop creep.
#5. Devise Mitigation Strategies
Mitigation means having backup plans as a safety net, allowing your software project to continue despite challenges.
After analyzing every potential risk, review it and develop a response software development strategy for each one.
Start by asking these questions:
- How would you fill the gap of a key team member leaving mid-project?
- If there’s a risk of a technology or tool not meeting your needs, what alternatives can you consider?
- If only a few users purchase and adopt your software, how do you respond to this?
Outline detailed potential solutions and implementation steps and remember to communicate each response clearly to your developer team.
#6. Research the Most Suitable Development Methodology
Choosing the right software development method can make a whole difference between a smooth and challenging process.
Each methodology has distinct strengths suited to different types of projects:
- Agile: This approach encourages collaboration with daily stand-ups, sprint reviews, and retrospectives, highly effective in dynamic environments.
- Waterfall: It’s linear and sequential, each stage must be completed before moving on to the next.
- RAD (Rapid Application Development): It involves user participation from the initial development phase to the final output.
The key is to understand the specific needs and challenges of your project and to choose a methodology that aligns with those.
Consider factors like:
- Project size
- Stakeholder involvement
- The need for flexibility.
Be careful when deciding which methodology to proceed with because the chosen one will influence your team’s workflow, communication, and the final product’s quality.
We’ll cover several software development strategies in the next section.
3 Most Applicable Software Development Methodologies
To better understand which software development methodology suits your strategy and project’s specifications, learn their structures and processes in creating software.
Here are the most common and applicable ones:
Agile methodology embraces changes, even later in the software development cycle, and delivers value through a continuous delivery model.
It breaks down the project into user-focused iterations known as sprints.
Typically, it lasts a few weeks, allowing teams to focus on delivering the project’s specific features or sections quickly.
This approach encourages constant feedback and adaptation, ensuring the end product is as close to your needs as possible.
Collaboration is an essential part of Agile, with daily stand-ups, sprint reviews, and retrospectives.
These practices help teams stay aligned, identify and solve issues quickly, and continuously improve their workflow.
Agile is highly effective in dynamic environments with uncertain or evolving end-user requirements.
Therefore, it promotes flexibility and active stakeholder involvement.
In contrast to Agile’s iterative approach, the Waterfall methodology is linear and sequential.
Before any coding begins, there is a thorough requirement gathering and documentation phase to define all the system requirements upfront.
The Waterfall model is divided into:
Each stage must be completed before moving on to the next, with no overlap between stages.
This makes the Waterfall methodology easier to manage.
It provides a clear, fixed plan with set milestones.
Thus, it’s well-suited to projects where requirements are well-understood and unlikely to change, such as in regulated industries like banking and healthcare.
However, Waterfall can be less adaptable to change. Making adjustments due altered or new requirements will be costly and time-consuming.
RAD (Rapid Application Development)
RAD is an adaptive approach prioritizing rapid prototype releases and iterations.
Unlike traditional Waterfall methods, RAD focuses on software and user feedback over strict planning and requirements recording.
This methodology involves user participation from the initial development phase to the final output.
It intends to speed up the process of developing information systems.
Prototyping or creating incomplete versions is the central element of RAD.
These prototypes are quickly developed, simply to showcase software components and check their viability.
Also, RAD emphasizes the reuse of software components, including a series of workshops or focus groups to gather requirements and refine them.
This close collaboration with the end users allows for a more accurate system.
RAD is particularly useful when you need to create a system that can be modularized in 2-3 months.
However, it needs highly skilled developers and can be resource-intensive.
7 Key Steps to a Solid Software Development Strategy
To ensure your software development strategy works smoothly, follow these seven steps to guide your team through to completion.
Step #1. Feasibility and Requirement Analysis
This phase examines what needs to be done and whether it’s possible within the constraints of technology, your budget, and time.
It starts with gathering the necessary information to understand the project’s demands thoroughly.
The feasibility study then considers technical and practical aspects to see if the project is doable, such as:
- the plan for what you’re creating
- all the included software features
- dates for key achievements
- documentation you should prepare
- the one handling which parts of the project
- how much you are looking to spend
Step #2. Planning
Planning means outlining every stage of the software development process, from design and development to testing and deployment.
The plan should be comprehensive, covering:
- KPIs for software development
- Resource allocation
- Risk management
- Contingency measures
- Communication strategy, like regular updates and meetings
First, set clear and achievable goals and milestones to help track progress and keep the team focused.
The plan should also be flexible enough to accommodate any unforeseen challenges during the process.
Step #3. Design
Designing is where the team creates a visually appealing and user-friendly architecture that aligns with the project’s objectives.
This phase often starts with creating wireframes or prototypes, which act as a visual guide for the final product.
It involves collaboration between designers, developers, and stakeholders, with a focus on prioritizing end-users’ needs and how they interact with the software.
The possible steps in this process are:
- creating detailed software architecture or the system’s structure, including data storage, processing, and flow.
- crafting intuitive user interface (UI) designs.
- defining the software’s system interactions and integrations with other systems or third-party services.
- making a design documentation as a reference point for developers and stakeholders.
Step #4. Development
Development is where the actual building of the software occurs.
It’s a highly technical phase, requiring a deep understanding of programming languages, frameworks, and development tools.
Five essential aspects of this step are:
- Coding: Developers write code, making design documentation a working software product.
- Unit Testing: It’s the process of testing features in isolation to ensure they work correctly.
- Integration: Combine individual features into a cohesive system.
- Iterations: Development is often iterative, with cycles of building, testing, and feedback leading to refinements.
- Version Control: It’s essential to manage the development process, allowing for tracking changes and collaboration among developers.
Step #5. Automation
Automation in a software development strategy streamlines repetitive, manual, or time-consuming tasks.
It helps enhance efficiency, reduce errors, and maintain consistency.
Kinds of automation include:
- Continuous Integration (CI), automating the merging of code changes from multiple contributors into a software project.
- Continuous Deployment (CD), automated code deployment to production environments, ensuring the latest available version.
- Automated Testing, implementing scripts that run tests on the codebase automatically, identifying issues quickly.
- Scripted Environment Setup, using automation tools to create and configure development, testing, and production.
Step #6. Testing
In-depth testing covers everything from individual code units to the full, integrated system to ensure that every aspect of the software works before it reaches end users.
This often involves multiple rounds of testing to address all aspects of the software’s performance and usability, such as:
- Unit Testing, checking individual components for correct behavior.
- Integration Testing, ensuring that combined components or systems work together.
- System Testing, verifying that the complete and integrated software system meets specified requirements.
- User Acceptance Testing (UAT), conducted by actual users to ensure the software can handle required tasks in real-world scenarios.
- Performance Testing, assessing the software’s stability and responsiveness under various conditions.
- Security Testing, identifying vulnerabilities within the software to prevent potential attacks.
Step #7. Deployment
Deployment is when the software is available for use.
This step includes multiple environments and stages, from initial release candidates to full public launch.
- Release Preparation: Finalize code, configurations, and documentation for release.
- Launch: Move the software to live servers, often using automated deployment tools.
- Monitoring: Check the system’s performance and user feedback to ensure everything runs smoothly.
Step #8. Maintenance
During post-deployment, the focus shifts to maintenance to ensure that the software remains functional, efficient, and secure over time.
This ongoing process requires constant attention by providing:
- Updates: Regularly add new features or upgrades to keep the software up-to-date.
- Bug Fixes: Promptly address any issues users encounter.
- Performance Optimization: Continuously improve the software to enhance speed and efficiency.
- Security: Ensure the software is protected against new threats with updated security measures.
- Support: Provide users with assistance and resources for troubleshooting.
To summarize, a well-thought-out software development strategy is crucial for your project’s success.
It ensures that your software meets the business’s goals and current market needs, and is prepared for unexpected future challenges.
If you’re making your project concept into reality, Intelivita’s ready to help you with our software development services.
Consult your needs with us, so we can develop a plan that ensures your software’s success from the ground up.