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7 Key Fundamentals of Successful Software Development

Technology enables companies to automate internal processes and even make their product or service offerings more unique.

Both of these benefits will not only save costs but also generate profits.

Therefore, understanding the fundamentals of software development is essential for any role in a business - whether you are an engineer, a salesman, or even a Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

By possessing basic knowledge in software development, you can make more informed decisions to advance both your tech capabilities and business conversions.

Let's dive in.

What is Software Development?

Software development is an extensive field within computer science, primarily focused on the creation, design, implementation, and maintenance of software.

All of these processes are part of a systematic approach known as the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC).

A globally recognized standard, the SLDC is a series of phases that guide programmers in building software that meets technical specifications and user requirements.

The Steps of Software Development Processes

Whether building an app yourself or hiring software development service providers, you should follow structured methodologies to streamline project management and develop superior-quality software.

Here are the steps:

1. Analysis

Before formulating a strategy, it's important to do an in-depth analysis to identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) of the project.

To conduct the analysis and gather the needed requirements, here are several techniques you can do:

  • Market research: Understand the pain points of the customer segment you are targeting and how your product can be the solution. You can conduct one-on-one interviews, workshops, or surveys.
  • Competitor analysis: Define who your competitors are and identify the gaps that your business can address or successful frameworks that you can replicate.
  • Minimum Viable Product (MVP): Build a simple prototype or release a beta version that potential customers can test. This allows you to gain insights into real-time use cases and gather feedback for improvement.

2. Planning

As the saying goes, failing to plan is planning to fail, and software development is no exception.

A well-defined plan should consist of the following aspects:

  • Grand objective: Clearly define the goals, purposes, and methodologies of the software development.
  • Task breakdown: List the project deliverables you will be working onwards with specified deadlines and assignees for transparent progress tracking. Make use of the Eisenhower matrix (prioritisation based on effort and impact) and project management tools such as Asana, Notion, or JIRA to streamline your workflow.
  • Manpower needs: Improve inter-team and cross-team collaboration by assigning the right talents for the right tasks.
  • Budget estimation: Accurately calculate the project costs based on the different resources you incur (tools, labour, transport, etc)

During the development life cycle, managing multiple features, products, and projects simultaneously can be overwhelming.

This is especially true when you receive a load of demands from customers, or when you are competing with other businesses regarding who can bring the product faster to market or in a higher quality.

So, we recommend adopting any of the following methodologies to streamline your project roadmap:

  1. Agile development: An iterative process that is "agile" in nature, allowing you to adapt and make changes as you go.
  2. Waterfall approach: A linear method where the project is divided into distinct phases, and each phase must be completed before moving on to the next.
  3. Feature-driven development (FDD): The predecessor of agile principles that focuses on implementing features based on what the client values most.
  4. Lean software development methodology: A framework that reduces or eliminates tasks or activities that do not give tangible value.
  5. Scrum: A highly popular software development management which is divided based on a 2-week or 4-week timeline called "Sprint".
  6. Extreme programming (XP): A methodology with the main purpose of improving software quality and responsiveness.
  7. Rapid application development (RAD): A principle that works best for smaller teams that aims to produce high-quality results at the lowest budget.
  8. DevOps: A software management technique that combines Dev (software development) and Ops (information technology).

3. Design

Now, let's get into coding - the heart of software development.

Coding and design should follow clear guidelines that comprise the following aspects:

System Design

It involves a high-level architecture to ensure that the hardware, interfaces, and system data meet the client's requirements.

An excellent system design usually adheres to the CAP theorem, in which a system should only follow two or three properties: consistency, availability, and partition tolerance.

Here are the factors you need to take into account:

  • Scalability or the platform's ability to handle traffic load, both sudden or continuously, without decreasing latency. A couple of ways to manage traffic spikes are through horizontal (adding hardware) and vertical (adding power) scaling.
  • Architectural style by using microservices, which breaks down a large application into a separate collection of modular services for independent development and deployment.
  • Server efficiency that can be achieved through a proxy server or an intermediary between the user and the internet for extra layers of security and privacy.
  • Redundancy and replication which govern how to duplicate critical components to increase reliability and performance.
  • File storage or how the platform stores data, such as block storage, file storage, object storage, or redundant disk arrays (RAID).

Software Architecture Design

In simple terms, software architecture design helps developers organise a system and its components and how they interact in an environment.

A well-structured software architecture design has a significant impact on the final product's quality, performance, maintainability, and overall success.

Consider the following decisions when developing an architecture:

  • The structural elements and interfaces of your system
  • The behaviour and collaboration of the elements, as well as their integration into a large subsystem
  • The alignment between the architectural decisions and business objectives as a guidance for the organisation

User Interface/User Experience Design

A smooth, sleek, and user-friendly UI/UX will guide your customers seamlessly through their buying journey, affecting the conversion rate of your site, platform, or app.

Here are some principles to look into for a good UI/UX:

  • Information architecture: Organise the content of your app or site, so users can quickly find the information they need.
  • Visual hierarchy: Adjust the layout, images, and any visual cues to make it easy for visitors to navigate your software.
  • Consistency: Ensure the consistent use of colours, fonts, and branding elements throughout the software.
  • Confirmation: Guide users in taking action or solving errors with clear and concise UX copy.
  • User control: Give users the full freedom to perform tasks like creating profiles, inviting their friends, configuring the security settings, and more.

4. Testing

Once the software is finished, conducting thorough testing is next on the list.

Failing to do so, and your platform might be ridden with bugs. This could leave a bad impression on customers, making them unlikely to revisit your software in the future.

That's why testing should always be a part of your software development processes.

Here are several types of testing you can do:

  • Integration testing: Check if your software is compatible with other systems or tools.
  • Unit testing: Make sure each unit or component performs as expected.
  • Functional testing: See if every element, including buttons, links, and navigation system, is performing as it should be.
  • Security testing: Find and solve any security holes to safeguard the platform from malicious actors and software.
  • Performance testing: Measure how the platform will perform during peak traffic.
  • Regression testing: After integrating new features, check if the software can still load fast.
  • Stress testing: Look for the breaking point of your software when it's overloaded with a lot of requests.
  • Acceptance testing: Ensure that your software follows the initial requirements. If it does, then your project is complete.

5. Publish

This is where your software development is finally released to the world.

People will begin to use your software, provide feedback for improvements, or even promote it to their circle.

However, most people deploy their software through the wrong method.

As a result, some parts of the software may be left behind and not working functionally.

To avoid such a scenario, here are some deployment frameworks you can adopt:

  • Continuous Integration (CI): Team members integrate their code changes into a shared repository frequently. The main goal is to detect and address integration issues early in the development process
  • Continuous Deployment (CD): The integrated code undergoes a series of automated tests, and if successful, it is automatically released into the production environment without manual intervention.
  • Blue Green Deployment: It involves maintaining two separate environments, one (Blue) with the old version and another (Green) with the new version. In case the new version faces errors, you can easily revert back to the previous one.
  • Canary Deployment: A new version of the software is released to a small subset of users before being rolled out to the entire user base. This gradual release allows developers to monitor the new version's performance, identifying potential issues, and mitigating risks before a full deployment.
  • Shadow Deployment: After deploying a new version, users won't be able to access it right away. Instead, the new version runs parallel to the existing one, allowing developers to collect data and perform thorough testing before gradually redirecting users to the new version.

6. Maintain

As your software receives more traction, you will need to upgrade your tech specs to keep up with the competition.

Scheduled maintenance also goes a long way in protecting your site from cyberattacks or preventing it from going down.

Both of these can have severe consequences on your business.

Here are some maintenance work you can do:

  • Bug fixes: Identify the loopholes that users report and fix them.
  • Updates: Bring out new updates or improvements to maintain your platform's functionality.
  • Performance maintenance: Monitor the stability of your platform and promptly deal with any slowdown or breakdown.

7. Security

Cyberattacks can financially damage your business, or worse, make your customers leave due to lowering trust.

Luckily, there are ways you can do to protect your customer data:

  • Use encryption: Convert information into a secure and unreadable format, known as ciphertext, using an algorithm and a key. The primary purpose of encryption is to protect sensitive data from unauthorised access or interception
  • Input validation: Always validate user input to prevent common vulnerabilities like SQL injection, cross-site scripting (XSS), and other injection attacks.
  • Authentication and authorization: Implement strong authentication mechanisms, such as multi-factor authentication (MFA), and ensure that only authorised users have access to sensitive data.
  • Session management: Employ secure session management practices, including the use of session tokens, session timeouts, and secure cookie attributes. Avoid storing sensitive information in cookies and always encrypt session data.
  • Secure communication: Use secure communication protocols such as HTTPS to encrypt data in transit. Avoid transmitting sensitive information over unsecured channels, and ensure that encryption protocols are up-to-date.
  • Test and audit: Conduct regular security assessments, including penetration testing and code reviews, to identify and solve vulnerabilities.
  • Regular training: Most of the time, cybersecurity occurs due to an accidental mistake by a team member. Avoid this by educating them on the best cybersecurity practices.

Ready to Build Your Dream Software?

By now, you should have a better idea on how to develop software that's fully functional and secure.

If you don't have the needed skills and expertise, however, hiring a software development agency can save you time and money.

Of course, with so many software consulting agencies in the market, finding the perfect fit is easier said than done.

But don't worry, you don't need to spend hours trying to browse different consultants, because Intelivita is here to help with any software-related issues you have.

With over 12 years of experience and 60+ projects successfully delivered, we know the ins and outs of software development like no other.

Let's talk to our experts, and make your vision become reality.

Dhaval Sarvaiya

Hey there. I am Dhaval Sarvaiya, one of the Founders of Intelivita. Intelivita is a mobile app development company that helps companies achieve the goal of Digital Transformation. I help Enterprises and Startups overcome their Digital Transformation and mobile app development challenges with the might of on-demand solutions powered by cutting-edge technology.

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