As the world advances technologically, we see society migrate to cyberspace. Full automation, artificial intelligence, self-driving cars, supercomputers — what seemed to be futuristic imagination is now a reality. But all of these technologies would not be possible without the powerful software that runs them.
Our tech-savvy society practically runs on software. These ubiquitous IT solutions installed on computers, mobile devices, machines, and equipment are used in nearly all industries – from business to education to healthcare and even in highly technical fields like the natural gas and oil industry.
Wondering how these software programs are made?
Every software program is aimed to solve a real-world problem. To achieve its goal, it goes through the software development process which involves the design, creation, and maintenance of IT solutions.
Creating and deploying software is no easy task as it entails many steps and aspects. Software development teams solve the problem uniquely. They use different software development processes, such as agile. But while these software development methodologies differ, there are four basic steps in building software from scratch.
Requirements or specification – This stage defines the main purpose and functionalities of the software. It also sets the limitations of the solution.
Design and implementation – Based on the specifications, the software development team develops and builds the software.
Validation – In this stage, the development team evaluates the software to ensure that it conforms to the specifications and solves the identified problem.
Maintenance and scaling – The software eventually needs maintenance, revisions, upgrades, and scaling to meet the changing demands of users.
Regardless of the software development methodology a team adopts, software agencies follow specific steps in the software development process. Although the following steps outlined below are the most common and logical order, there are no strict rules in software development. Hence, some development teams mix, add, interchange, or even omit some steps.
In the initial stage, the development team meets up with the product and project manager to thresh out several issues affecting the development process. Some aspects of the project frequently discussed include the material and manpower resources, provisioning of resources, project timeline, estimated cost, and capacity.
The planning stage is crucial as it can have an impact on the entire development process. The team creates a blueprint that will ensure the successful and timely completion of the software.
2. Requirements evaluation
The development team and the client need to communicate to identify and analyze the project requirements. Failure to do so might result in irrelevant software that does not solve the needs of the users. This is particularly true with critical and highly technical IT solutions. According to Trellis Energy, natural gas software developer, highly specialized software solutions require close coordination among stakeholders.
During this stage, business processes, use-cases, and problems that are digitized or automated with the software are carefully documented. The development team uses this information in designing and building the software.
3. Software design
Once the system requirements are identified and analyzed, the software engineers and developers prepare software architecture. Standardized patterns or frameworks are used during the design stage. The team might also start rapid prototyping to compare different potential solutions and find the best fit.
With the design now in place, the team is ready to write the code. The process of coding the software will depend on the methodology used; for example, it can be a single block such as in Waterfall or time-boxed sprints in Agile. Throughout this stage, the development team should communicate with the client to ensure that the project follows the right direction. At the end of this stage, functional and testable beta software is completed.
5. Testing and deployment
In the testing phase, the performance of the software, the quality of code, its security, and its integration are all tested. This is a vital stage in delivering quality software. Some software agencies automate this stage using Continuous Integration tools to speed up the process. Once completed, the software is ready for trial in a production environment – and eventually the release of working software for production and use.
The software development process does not end with deploying the application. The development team continuously monitors the software to ensure that it operates properly and meets the end-user needs. If glitches or bugs are identified post-production, the developers address them quickly. To prevent regression (wherein the fixes cause other problems), the team puts the software back through a shortened software development process.
These are the steps involved in developing software from scratch. Each part of the process is vital in building and producing quality and responsive software.