Software development is a very fast-moving field. Just as software developers think for a second that they have a full grasp when it comes to programming languages, architectures, methodologies and so on, something new appears on the horizon and makes the old stuff, well… almost obsolete.
But, if they want to stay in the game, software development providers must keep current with the latest trends. If they don’t, clients won’t have much of a reason to hire them and over 57% of brands have outsourced software development to a specialized company and another 20.12% to a freelancer, according to this State of Software Development in 2019 report.
Unfortunately, 85% of software projects run over schedule. Obviously, we want that time to be as short as possible, while not losing anything in terms of quality.
The question is, how can we do that?
Well, here are five ways that you can use in order to save time during the software development life cycle and speed it up.
What is Software Development Life Cycle? What Are Its Stages?
But first, a brief recap of what is software development life cycle.
Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) is a series of steps or stages that the software will go through in its development phase.
These phases are:
- Requirement gathering and analysis phase
- Design phase
- Implementation and coding phase
- Testing phase
- Deployment phase
- Maintenance phase
Each phase or stage is important in its own way and neither can work completely without the others. For instance, developers can’t start coding until they design the system’s architecture and they can’t do that until they gather and analyze all the requirements.
In the same manner, software deployment can’t start until you test the code and make sure it is correct. Luckily, there are some tips and tricks that can make a software development life cycle more efficient.
1. Determine The Software Requirements Before Begining The Sofware Development Life Cycle
Software Development Life Cycle should always start with establishing the software project requirements. Do this before you start designing, coding or otherwise building anything regarding your software.
Here are some important questions that you need to ask:
- What are your goals and objectives for this software or project in general?
- When do you need the software to be live by? Be as specific as possible. Saying, “soon”, “next month” or “next year” is not specific. “In 5 months” or “by the end of October” is.
- What functionalities and features does the software need to have? Start with the necessary ones and then include new ones as you learn that the users actually need them.
- How will you know that the software project was successful?
Now, with answers to those crucial questions in your pocket, you can create a clear roadmap to success and communicate the goals with each team member. That means, now that everyone involved in the project knows what the requirements, goals and objectives are, it will be easier for everyone to work together toward them.
2. Use Software Automation Tools in Software Development Projects
It is 2019, so what is your software development company’s excuse to not use automation tools? Let’s be honest, if you are stuck with a dinosaur-like that, you quickly need to change software development companies!
Software development projects can consist of just one or two developers, but most big ones consist of a large number of individuals, each with a different task. Once they are done, the project moves on to the next team member and so on until it is finished.
The problem is that, as the project changes hands like this, often several times back and forth, software development companies tend to lose time.
This is where automation tools come in. With their help, this transition between team members becomes much smoother and faster.
In addition, such tools also automatically complete certain repetitive tasks that don’t require as much creativity or expertise, which further speeds up the project.
3. In a Software Development Life Cycle, Say ‘No’ To Unnecessary Features
Every time a brand requests a new feature to be added to their custom software, they inevitably prolong the software development life cycle.
Unfortunately, brands often do this without asking a simple question:
Do our users actually want or need this feature?
Or is this simply the case of seeing the feature somewhere else and thinking it would be cool to add it to your software?
If it is not necessary and users are not showing any sign of wanting or needing that feature, it is usually a good idea to omit it.
Every software development life cycle should begin with requirement gathering and analysis. In this phase, a comprehensive target audience research takes a very important place.
Without it, you won’t be able to tell which exact features do your users want or need and which you can safely ignore (at least for the time being).
Of course, when thinking about this, be careful to learn what the customers really want, not what they say they want, or worse, what you think they need. A lot of times, customers don’t really know what they want or need until they get it.
In other words, be sure to make priorities as to what your software developers will build to ensure revenue and conversions.
Stick with functional software first and if you need to add any new features, you can always add them later.
One way to keep your features in check is to build a Minimum Viable Product or MVP. This is an agile development technique in which we develop a new product or software with just enough features to satisfy our early adopters. Then, based on early user feedback, software developers can add new features to make a finished software.
The bottom line is, don’t be afraid to say ‘no’ to an unnecessary feature. It’s much better not to have it than to go over budget or schedule because of it.
4.Continually Test Software Functionality Throughout The Software Development Life Cycle
Problems with the software can occur at any stage of the software development process. However, the more into the project you are, the harder it becomes to fix them.
This is why the worst-case scenario is to find out that your software is not working properly just as you are about to make it live.
Continually testing the software, as it is being built, will reduce any time spent on fixing bugs and other software issues and ensure that the software development life cycle goes on smoothly.
You simply don’t want to have to deal with a problem late in the project that might delay the whole thing. Not if you can solve the issue early on.
5. Remember That Communication Is Often Key In Software Development Projects
We already briefly talked about the importance of good team communication within software development projects and how automation tools can help with that.
However, team communication shouldn’t begin and end on just finishing your task and sending it off to another team member.
For a successful software development project brands and software development companies should nurture continual collaboration and communication throughout.
Active, two-way communication is the key to staying on schedule and having a successful project.
This also means not burying your head if a problem occurs, but communicating it clearly with other team members in order to best find a solution to fix it.
Team meetings are often considered a waste of time, but only if they are done wrong. The truth is that, if done right, they can help make a software development process much more straightforward and keep it on track.
Brands that are outsourcing their software development projects, know the importance of communicating and working side-by-side with software development companies as this will allow them to hit milestones sooner.
This client-developer communication is important not only when your brand is working with software development companies and working on large, time-consuming projects, but also when it is working on smaller, one-time projects with just one or two freelance software developers.
Which Software Development Model Should You Use?
Of course, we can’t talk about a software development life cycle without addressing the different models available or their specific advantages and disadvantages.
Here are some pros and cons for each software development life cycle model to help you determine which one you should use in your project if you want to keep it on budget and schedule:
- Can save plenty of time
- Easy to understand
- Good for rigid projects
- Easy to test
- Good only for short-term, but not long-term projects
- Difficult to see the outcome
- Can’t be used with maintenance projects well
- Usable only if you have specific needs
- Transparent due to good communication
- Able to find and fix problems early
- More focused on software and lacking in documentation
- The outcome is often not as clear as it should be
- Good especially for large and complex software development projects
- Well suited for high-risk projects
- Reduces many risk factors
- Can cost a lot, especially for software development
- Not the best choice for low-risk projects
Extreme Programming Model
- Rational with schedules
- Focus is on customer involvement and communication
- Software developers are more committed to the project
- Reliant on frequent meetings, which means spending more time and money
- Dependant on the people involved (if a customer is not able to communicate their needs well, how is a software development firm supposed to fulfill them?)
- Provides a clear idea on the functional process of a software
- Very helpful in the initial stage of requirement gathering and analysis
- Decreases the risk of software functionality failure
- Higher management costs
- The workflow may suffer due to often changes
- Clients can get too involved and cause the project to slow down unknowingly
What is important here is not to get stuck with a model that might work for someone else but not your brand. You need to carefully examine your needs and then choose the right software development life cycle methodology that will be suited specifically for your brand.
Choosing the wrong software development life cycle model can be detrimental to the entire project and do the opposite of what you want (for instance, save money, time, improve communication and so on).
A software development life cycle can take a while. Each phase of the software development life cycle requires some time to successfully complete before we can move on to the next phase.
Unfortunately, according to a study by KPMG, as many as 85% of software development projects go over their initial schedule.
Another study by McKinsey shows that, on average, 66%, or two-thirds of software development projects have cost overruns (they go over budget) and 33%, or one third have schedule overruns (they go over schedule).
Here’s just a brief overview of the time frames that each software development life cycle stage might take:
- Requirement gathering and analysis – between two and four weeks per project
- Design – around two weeks
- Implementation and coding – from three to up to eight months
- Testing – around two to four weeks
- Deployment- another three to six weeks
- Maintenance – continual
Keep in mind that this is just a rough overview of how long each stage of the software development life cycle might take. You might end up spending more or less time on each individual stage.
Naturally, you want these specific processes as short as possible, but without rushing anything and sacrificing on quality. What is important is to keep these phases as short or as long as they actually need to be.
Why would your brand pay for software development services for a period of 12 months, when another provider can do it in just four months?
Look to the five tips we outlined in this article to help you keep the software development life cycle on schedule and consult them every time your project seems to be in a rut and slowing down.
Are you looking for a software development firm that won’t waste your time and money? Check out these top custom software development companies to find the one that really meets your brand needs.