What do Instagram, Call Of Duty, and Bank of America’s app have in common? In order to function properly, the three of them had to go through a very specific process designed to test and develop their features to guarantee a smooth performance. Creating a website, an app, or a new video game is bound to the Software Development Life Cycle, which is the application of standard business practices to build software applications. Generally, the cycle is composed of seven steps that software development companies follow to ensure product quality.
It’s the beginning of everything, the first step of the software development cycle. After having a great idea for an app, videogame, or whatever you have in mind, you need to plan the development process.
You need to answer some key questions before moving on with the project; questions like “What do I need to make it possible?” “How long is it going to take?” “How much staff is needed?” “Is it better to build it from scratch, or maybe I should outsource some parts of the process?” and the most important of all, “How much does it cost?”. This step can take a lot of time and meetings with the team, stakeholders, and clients if you work in a company, but good planning is key for good software.
Immediately after the planning step, it’s time to analyze all the possible features that your software will have. For example, suppose you want to develop bank software. In that case, it needs to have a feature that allows people to transfer money from one account to another and enable the save of a banking record to keep track of every transaction. In other words: make a list of all your requirements, specify your software features, and don’t forget about anything!
At this point of the software development cycle, your team should be sure about your requirements, as well as the roadmap of your project. Therefore, they’ll start designing the general aspect of your software. Good developing companies create a basic prototype of your software -also known as a mock-up- that recreates your software’s desired features, specifications, and general aspects. This allows room for possible changes, issue fixing, and redesign of slight details that will resemble the final aspect of your software once finished.
This is the most crucial part of the software development life cycle, where the project starts to take form. The developers start coding the approved features and functionalities of your software, improving the work done in the previous step, and taking it to the next level to create a quality product. Testing the code that is being developed is crucial in this stage, which brings us to the next step of the software development life cycle.
A group of testers will work with anything the programmers made to find bugs and errors, improve the performance of the software, and reduce the chances of crashes in the future. The team should do coding and testing simultaneously; that way, the errors are detected while programming. Testers should act as new users would do, trying every single feature and reporting errors in the process. Even if the coding stage ends, the project should have a prudent time frame to test features before deployment.
Your software looks good and runs smoothly, which means that it’s time to make it available for users. The rest of this phase might vary with every company, as some might invest in a marketing campaign, and others might place a download button on their website. There are no right answers: it all depends on the product you’re offering and your software’s main goal.
Operations and Maintenance
This is the final step of the software development cycle. Your target audience is using your software, but this doesn’t mean that you should just rest and stop improving your product: you should perform regular checks and maintenance to the software’s servers, features, and code.
Some new bugs that were not detected in testing will appear, and if you want to have successful software, you will need to solve these issues with updates, starting the software development life cycle once again.
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