A software development workflow is a fundamental component of any software development project. It equally affects team performance, quality of the final product, and project development timeline. Once well-optimized it can bring significant benefits to the product owners – minimize development expenses, effectively distribute resources as well as improve team productivity, and much more. Therefore, it’s essential to continuously track and improve software development workflow during the product development process.
In this article, we’ll have a look at the components of a solid software development workflow and explain how to optimize it effectively.
What Is a Workflow in Software Development?
A workflow links together the software development stages, also known as Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC), and allows software developers to build their applications more effectively.
Being a looped process, a software development workflow determines the actions that should be taken at each stage and provides forward-looking guidance for further product development steps. This way, with a well-established workflow a software development team can:
- See a bigger picture of the project
- Clearly determine each team member’s responsibilities
- Understand how their work contributes to the entire project
- Foresee any project bottlenecks
- Effectively prevent and overcome any challenges that may appear during app development
- More evenly spread the resources
- Improve their performance on the current project and further app-building projects.
Elements of a Software Development Workflow
There are no firmly set stages in a software development workflow. The number of elements depends on classification and usually varies from 5 to 7. We’ll have a look at the software development workflow that includes 5 stages. It doesn’t mean that a 7-stage development workflow is better than the one that has 5 elements. A 5-stage workflow offers everything software developers need to build high-quality software at the minimum resources and time.
Planning and Analysis
Planning and analysis is the first step in the SDLC loop. It determines many project parameters that will influence further software development. At this stage, the software development team defines the business and technical project requirements.
- Product requirements – the software development team defines the scope of the product, which features, functionalities, and services should be included in the developed application, its architecture, tech stack, and more.
- Business requirements involve client requirements for the developed product, its objectives and aims, any certain branding guidelines the app should be aligned with, and more.
- Project requirements include determining software development life cycle (SDLC) roles in the team, project scheduling, resource allocation, possible risks and problems, and ways to prevent them.
This stage involves much communication between business analysts, project managers, stakeholders, and the development team. The outcome of the Planning and Analysis stage should be elaborated project documentation and a well-defined project plan.
The project documentation can include specifications, user stories, user scenarios, visual application design, and more. Meanwhile, the project plan should include a description of the development process, timelines and milestones, outcomes and deliverables.
During this phase, UI/UX designers create the visual part of the requested solution. For this, they build wireframes and prototypes to test the application for its usability and implement any changes if needed. Often, UI/UX developers have to adjust the application interfaces to the guidelines provided by their client so that the final solution matches the client’s company style.
The UI/UX stage involves much experimenting and changes. A good UI/UX design eliminates any user difficulties, making user interfaces intuitive and simple to navigate, and is always adapted to the user requirements.
Development and Coding
At this stage, software developers get down to the product-building process. The steps software developers take during the development process are largely determined by the chosen methodology.
There are a number of development methodologies, though the most popular are Waterfall and Agile. The Waterfall is commonly chosen for creating niche-specific software that involves unchangeable, clear project requirements such as medical software, aviation, and other niches that require much precision. Agile is more popular for building software for various business niches when end-user requirements heavily influence the development process. This way, with Agile, software developers can quickly adjust to new demands and add or remove certain features, quickly change the final product elements, and more.
The testing phase largely depends on the methodology used. In Agile, testing and code reviewing phases happen throughout the building process with each new development iteration. The Waterfall method involves the testing phase after the software is built. Nevertheless, the Quality Assurance (QA) team has to perform the final product testing before releasing it to the market.
Often, companies release the final product to a small group of beta testers. Beta testers are the end-users of the product who try the product first and report to the company if they find any possible errors. Meanwhile, the software development provider implements various tools for tracking and analyzing how end-users interact with the resulting digital solution.
Testing can be a rather lengthy process, especially if the developed solution has many complex features. Nevertheless, it’s an essential part of the SDLC process. A poorly-tested software can result in a reputation crisis and significantly reduce the ROI of the client company.
Implementation and Maintenance
Once the product is built and tested, it can be released to the market. Many companies use various tools to automate this process and ensure a continuous deployment model.
Although the implementation stage is often understood as the final stage of the software development project, the SDLC process doesn’t stop here. After software developers present the final product to the end-users, they should maintain the developed solution up-to-date, ensure that it meets customer requirements, and has minimum downtime. Also, at this stage, they continue testing their digital solutions to guarantee that all their features work properly and effectively.
Ways To Optimize Your Software Development Flow
There are a variety of ways companies can improve their SDLC workflows. Many of them, they can obtain when working with multiple software development projects. We’ve analyzed our long working experience in the international software development market and have come up with the software development workflow best practices. Let’s have a closer look at them.
Emphasize Code Quality Over Documentation
Surely, well-established and clear steps on how to develop a product are the key to solid software. However, most often time-to-market is a much more important aspect of the application release than elaborated documentation. It’s essential to present your product to customers as quickly as possible and ensure that it effectively attracts potential users.
To prevent over-documenting and resources, time, and money wastage, software developers:
- Add more product-testing activities to the development process
- Regularly hold code-review meetings
- Keep up with the coding standards throughout the development process
- Build a product MVP.
Carefully Select Your Project Management Tools
Having the right project management tools at hand is as important as selecting the proper tech stack for the requested solution. While there is a wide range of various tools in the market, project managers select the ones that perfectly suit the development team’s needs and use them from project to project. For example:
- GitHub is a VCS that is extremely popular among many software developers worldwide. It allows to store and share application versions, effectively review codes, track the history of code changes, and much more
- Redmine is a project management tool that suits perfectly for small and large software development projects. It allows tracking issues, creating roadmaps and highlighting milestones, using team charts, and performing many other tasks in Redmine.
- Jira is a popular tool used for bug tracking and Agile project management. It is used to track code issues, monitor app development stages, management of software testing procedures, and more.
Ensure Transparency and Strong Communication
For effective software development, each team member should be deeply engaged in the process, stay up to date with the latest project changes, and timely report about these changes to customers.
Hold Retrospective Meetings After Each Project Completion
Retrospective meetings are meetings that are usually held after releasing a piece of software. It helps team members to identify and improve team performance. For this, team participants need to answer several questions such as:
- What has the team accomplished?
- What were the main bottlenecks and obstacles the team encountered?
- How can team participants improve the development process?
SCAND Best Practices
At SCAND, we pay much attention to establishing a transparent process of software development and project management, as well as smooth collaboration between the customer and outsourcing team.
We offer the following process of software development:
We carefully analyze customer requirements and business goals to provide the best resources. After in-depth project requirements analysis, we suggest the best team members and the roadmap for the entire project realization.
We perform both front-end and back-end development, generating the programming code on the previously chosen language or technology.
We provide the customer with reports on each stage of the project development, ensuring everything goes as planned.
Our QA specialists run testing on every development stage, detecting defects, reporting, bug tracking, fixing and retesting, providing suggestions on enhancements.
We guarantee mature processes and complete team management. All of our processes and workflows are ultimately transparent. You have utter visibility through communication and project management tools, in addition to report documentation that examines all project activities in detail.
We provide access to our project management system which has a lot of management, tracing and monitoring capabilities as well as we can use any project management system suggested by the customer.
We use a long-reputable Waterfall method of software development as well as cutting-edge Agile, Scrum, and Kanban methodologies.
We have a standard set of reports we usually use to update clients about project progress, problems that need resolution, available defects, etc.
We provide all means of communication to our clients in English: in-person meetings, phone calls, email messages, instant messages via skype or else.
- Instant Messengers (Skype, Viber, Telegram, Whatsapp);
- Project Management Systems (JIRA, Basecamp, Redmine, etc.);
- Versioning Systems (Subversion, git, Mercurial, even CVS – whatever you like);
- Bug Tracking Systems (Bugzilla, etc.);
- Reporting Systems (for keeping track on what is going on and for billing purposes);
The software development workflow is an integral part of any application-building process. Once well-optimized, it allows teams to accurately determine their actions at each development stage, effectively assign roles on the project, evenly spread the resources, and prevent major bottlenecks. Those companies that have much experience in various software development projects can better optimize their software development workflows based on that experience.
Our teams have over 20+ experience in providing software development services for various industries. They create smooth and effective software development workflows for each application-building project they work on. If you’re thinking of building your own software solution then don’t hesitate to contact us.