Basic Software Development Stages: Full Step-by-Step Guide

Companies spend hundreds of billions on software as adopting new technologies helps them meet growing demands for application performance, scalability, and reliability. From small private businesses to multinational corporations, firms are actively investing in software development activities to stay ahead in the technological race. Each of them strives to create the best and most noticeable product, and you can join their ranks by creating your own software.

Behind every seamless user experience is carefully crafted code and user interface design. Most importantly, the software product should fulfill a specific user need. This guide explains what steps make up a competent software development process.

Reading time: 10 minutes

Table of contents

Key takeaways

    • A software development process consists of 7 phases: analysis, planning, UI/UX design, development, testing, launch, and maintenance.
    • The choice of development methodology affects how each of the stages works. The most popular methodologies are Waterfall, Agile, Scrum, Prototype, Lean, and XP.
    • For a productive software development process, it’s important to maintain regular communication within the team, plan the development in detail, test the finished parts of the application, and maintain the software after release.

What is a software development process?

Imagine you decided to bake a pie. First, you need to consider preferences, such as making a pie sugar-free, then choose a recipe and buy ingredients. If you don’t know how to bake, you may need an expert (e.g., your grandmother). You will also need to have some cooking time.

The same works for creating a software product. You need a development environment, tools (frameworks and languages), a methodology, people who know how to build apps, time, budget, as well as careful planning. If you figure it out — it will be as easy as apple pie.

creating a software product

The methodology used in the software development process involves pre-defining specific deliverables and ways to create them that a project team follows during development.

The software development life cycle is a structured process used in the IT industry to design, develop, and test high-quality software systems. No matter which methodology your team chooses, the SDLC will remain more or less the same and will look like this:

Software development life cycle (SDLC)

This is what a software development life cycle looks like

The 7 Steps of the Software Development

Remember about baking a pie? It’s time to open the cook (development) book and learn the recipe. To launch an app, you need to go through seven basic steps of software creation.

Step 1. Analysis and market research

Your first task as a future product owner is to understand the current state of the app market. You can consult analysts or go through search engines and app marketplaces like the App Store and Google Play to find out what apps in your niche already exist.

Check if someone has already implemented your idea before you. You may have to deviate from the original plan. But even if there are similar apps, don’t hurry to abandon your own software idea. Explore the features that you would also like to have in your app, the issues that you want to avoid, and the gaps that your app can fill.

Proper market analysis is necessary to avoid reinventing the wheel. Determine what’s missing in your field, and maybe your software product will rank high in the top apps of a particular industry.

Start with defining the niche and unique features for your app

Conduct a market analysis before starting a software development

Step 2. Project planning

The second software project step involves gathering requirements from stakeholders, conducting feasibility studies, and planning the software development project. You need to lay the foundation for your future app, and this is one of the most important stages in the entire software development process.

The requirements should be clearly defined and documented in writing, for example, in a Software Requirement Specification (SRS) document or a different form. List specific details of the new software system development, including:

    • objectives
    • scope
    • type of funding
    • budget
    • project schedule
    • stakeholders and their responsibilities

And don’t forget about the risk assessment. Identify potential risks that can affect app development, such as security threats, long app reviewing times, or rejection of apps in app stores. Develop mitigation strategies and preventative measures to address these risks.

Do not skip this stage, as it helps ensure that the scope and requirements are stated clearly, potential issues are identified early, and all the necessary resources for the software development project are secured. This is especially significant if you are a business person, and the development of new software will be handled by a separate team or a professional software development company. By having a written checklist, you’ll give the software developers a clearer task, and the risk of possible mistakes will be reduced.

The project planning stage makes app development easier

Provide your software development team with the clearest requirement possible

Step 3. UI/UX design

The software design process consists of several stages. As a product owner, you are the mastermind behind the project, so you need to define the project’s essence. Collect references, both positive and negative, they’ll save you a lot of time at design meetings and keep the number of iterations as low as possible.

Simply because you’ll be able to show the development team exactly what the client likes/dislikes. For example, if they enjoy the user interface of some competitor’s app with intuitive navigation and would like to implement something similar.

What contributes to a coherent software design process

Key elements you need for a software design

Based on them, UI/UX designers create a mind map and graphically depict key scenarios and main product features.

Then, they make wireframes and apply the visual style on 2–3 screens.

If a client likes the way it looks, other screens are completed, and the software design process is complete. The intended result of the design stage is a clickable prototype that can be shown to investors.

See also  How to Create a Design Concept in 40 Hours: a Crypto Project Example

Step 4. Development

At the development stage, software engineers write code and build the app based on design specifications. They may employ various tools, such as compilers, debuggers, and interpreters, to create the software application. Which programming language and tools the software developers use depends on the type of app (mobile, desktop, or web app), the complexity of the app (simple or advanced functions), and other features.

Keep in mind that the stack you choose affects not only the whole development process but also the app itself. Pay attention to the compatibility of the technology with the features you choose, and make sure the stack aligns with your long-term goals and expansion plans.

The Purrweb team tried many options and opted for the JavaScript frameworks React Native for mobile apps, React for the web, and Electron for desktop.

As this technology is designed for cross-platform development, we can release two versions of the app (iOS and Android) simultaneously. It’s more cost-effective and less time-consuming: one React Native team is cheaper than two development teams for native app development, and the launch is faster due to the ability to reuse code. The choice has paid off: we have successfully completed 300+ projects for our clients.

See also  Flutter vs React Native: which is better for app development

Step 5. QA testing

It’s essential to start testing the software product as early as possible in the development process to ensure good quality and timely delivery. At Purrweb, we prefer to test the app in parallel with development.

The testing phase can also include:

    • integration testing (combining related modules or components to test how they interact with each other);
    • system testing (testing a complete integrated software application as a whole);
    • acceptance testing (ensuring that software meets business needs).

Step 6. Release

One of the final software development process steps is the app release. This involves taking the app to marketplaces (App Store, Google Play).

The App Store has its specific requirements when it comes to app submission. We prepared a guide on publishing your iOS app and listed common pitfalls to avoid:

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If the app publication is not planned and the software product is developed individually for internal use within the company, the deployment phase is replaced by implementation. A typical deployment stage involves installing, configuring, and enabling the software application for use and monitoring.

Step 7. Maintenance

The last software development step is maintenance. This involves collecting user feedback. The feedback is used for making changes, updating and improving the software application, and addressing any bugs that your software system may still have.

The maintenance phase may also include designing and implementing new features based on user needs. Pros also ensure that the software remains compatible with new hardware or operating systems. At Purrweb, we offer optional software application maintenance services.

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6 Methodologies of Software Development Process

In our article about the top software development methodologies, we described each model in more detail. Nevertheless, knowing about ways to organize and manage the software development process is important, so let’s focus on the six most popular methodologies and briefly cover their features.

Waterfall development methodology

The Waterfall model is a traditional linear approach to organizing a software development project, where each phase must be completed before the next one begins. It follows a structured sequence typical for a standard software development life cycle — from requirements gathering to maintenance.

The Waterfall model is known for its rigidity, well-defined phases, and strict processes. Software developers choose it when the requirements are stable and unlikely to change significantly. However, it lacks adaptability and can lead to longer development times.

The Waterfall model used to organize software development

Waterfall development methodology

Agile methodology

The Agile software development process is characterized by an iterative and collaborative approach that emphasizes flexibility, efficiency, and customer satisfaction. Agile divides the project into small, manageable iterations, typically lasting 2–4 weeks, called sprints. The product owner is involved throughout the entire software development process, providing feedback on each software project step and guiding the project.

Unlike the Waterfall model, the Agile model focuses on continuous improvement and adapting to changing circumstances, which leads to a high-quality software development process. It promotes collaboration among cross-functional teams and allows for quick delivery of products.

However, the Agile model requires experienced developers and offers less documentation.

The Agile model used in software development

Agile development methodology

Scrum development methodology

Scrum is a framework under the Agile methodology that promotes self-organization within teams and an iterative software development process. Typically, Scrum processes are controlled by a project manager, as it is one of the project management methodologies.

Scrum offers an iterative process where work is divided into time-bound sprints with specific goals. It encourages transparency, user feedback, and teamwork, as well as providing a clear software development life cycle. While it offers benefits like adaptability to changing requirements, it may pose some challenges in managing extremely large projects with fixed deadlines.

Scrum development methodology

A chart with the workflow of the Scrum development methodology

Lean development methodology

Running a software development project with Lean may be useful, as this methodology aims to improve efficiency by eliminating waste. Lean emphasizes delivering only what is necessary, reducing unnecessary work. By removing non-essential features or redundant code, the development team achieves optimal efficiency and delivers high-quality software aligned with customer needs.

Lean development is adaptable to changing requirements and market conditions, and the emphasis on just-in-time delivery enables faster product releases and reduces time-to-market. However, Lean may face challenges in scope management and may not be suitable for highly regulated industries or large projects with a long software development life cycle.

A Lean development cycle

Lean development methodology

Prototype model

The Prototype model is a development approach where a preliminary version of the software system is built to demonstrate its functionality to stakeholders. It focuses on rapid development, communication between a development team and a client, quick design iterations, and feedback mechanisms.

This model enables a better understanding of requirements and the identification of potential issues. It is primarily used for testing and validating business ideas. The Prototype model allows the product owner to visualize the design and features of the software application in the early development stages. However, prototyping adds another step to a project and may require additional resources.

Prototyping in software development

The Prototype development model

Extreme programming (XP)

Extreme Programming is considered the most radical form of Agile software development. It aims to enhance software quality and responsiveness to changing customer requirements. XP involves direct client involvement, simplicity in design, continuous user feedback, and a strong focus on testing for high-quality software.

XP projects are relatively short, as the model offers rapid iterative development cycles. This methodology provides a predictable and transparent development process and places a strong focus on testing, peer reviews, and code quality, which leads to fewer bugs. However, XP may not be the best fit for projects with fixed timelines that require a lot of documentation.

The workflow of the XP development model

Extreme programming (XP)

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Best practices for a successful development process

The software development process should be thought out to the smallest detail. A well-organized process leads to several benefits, including high-quality software development, consistency, and scalability.

Prioritize understanding and meeting customer needs throughout the development process. By focusing on end users, you can create products that solve real problems and deliver value. Consider validating market demand and product viability before investing significant resources.

Continuously track project progress and measure key performance metrics throughout the development cycle. This helps in evaluating project success, identifying areas for improvement, and ensuring alignment with project goals.

Consult with development specialists with expertise in different areas like app development, design, user research, and marketing. Experts can help you navigate challenges, make informed decisions, and drive the success of your development initiatives.

Summing up

So now you know how high-quality software development can be organized. Let’s sum it up:

The basic steps of the software creation are market analysis, project planning, design, development, QA testing, release, and maintenance.

To create your own software, first explore the market, conduct a risk assessment, and carefully plan your software development project. Then contact a professional app development team and provide them with your requirements. If you need help with market analysis and planning, ask the experts — at Purrweb we can do that for you.

If the software development life cycle is more or less stable, the development process may vary depending on the project requirements, timeline, methodology used, etc. Today, the most popular methodologies are Scrum, Agile, and Agile-based models because they are flexible enough to meet modern requirements.

We know how to develop a successful project, so if you need a team of specialists, contact us. Fill out the form to receive an evaluation of your project in 48 hours.

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