What does a team need to start a software development project? One might assume that all they need is the idea of the end product, sufficient time and resources. However, starting a project is not all that simple.
Imagine that you are a pilot and you are flying an Airbus A380 from Los Angeles to Dubai. You have taken a route to Hong Kong by mistake, so now you need to change the direction entirely. No matter how much of an expert you are, it won’t be easy. Besides the fact that turning this enormous plane around will cost you a lot of effort, you will also need to check the route for its safety with a flight operations officer.
Starting an application development project is something similar: once you have taken a wrong turn, rolling it back to fix errors becomes more complicated the farther you have gone. Quite often, teams cannot simply make a few changes to a project and have to do it anew. The importance of a well-thought-out beginning is evident.
Statistics prove this point: an uncanny 31.1% of software development projects are canceled and 52.7% will double in cost compared with initial estimations because of poor planning in the early stages. We have studied the factors that determine a project’s success and recommend you focus on them to avoid possible mistakes, unbudgeted expenses or potentially even failure.
Set Clear Requirements
First and foremost, a software development team must have a clear vision of an application that they will deliver upon the project completion. The clearer the specification is, the more appropriate the solution will be. The situation is usually complicated further as in most cases customers are far removed from software development and have limited input in establishing the requirements.
That is why the team must help their customers understand what they:
- Want. Most likely, they know just what purpose the application should serve, rather than being familiar with how it can be accomplished – its technology.
- Need. Based on their requests, the development team estimates what functions the software should perform and how they can provide this.
- Can afford. Together with the customers, the team works out the budget requested for the project.
You will never be able to set the requirements properly without customer involvement. Only close cooperation will allow you to develop a project’s foundation, as a clear idea of a solution helps the team define goals. Having clear-cut goals allows them to plan and organize their work accordingly: to document it, break it up into subsystems, assign subject-matter specialists and more.
Just as in the example of the misdirected plane: imagine that the flight operations officer tells you only to change your route, but does not provide the exact destination. Sure enough, that you will arrive somewhere, but chances that it will be Dubai are slim-to-none.
“Planning” is quite an elastic term; it includes multiple preparation processes all of which are equally important when it concerns software quality. After you have set the goals you’d like to achieve in a project that you develop from scratch, you need to create algorithms prescribing how to accomplish this.
Your plan is thus the foundation of your future application, and having it designed properly will let you easily add pieces during the project. Software development experts recommend not setting the goal of building a seamless solution right away. What you should create is a working prototype, and look at it with the customer for possible errors and malfunctions. How to start developing a software project and create such a prototype? Follow the steps to develop a software project below.
Develop Use Cases
Quality assurance is the cornerstone of trouble-proof software. Although QA must be present at every step of the application development process, it is at the beginning of the project when it is of utmost importance. During the initial stages, the team establishes the framework for the whole software product. That is why they must give an especially close consideration to QA procedures in the project’s very beginning.
Software QA is based on use cases that contain functional requirements to its quality. Both positive and negative, they help set, analyze and organize system requirements, find their possible bottlenecks and ways to improve. Also, use cases are an indispensable prerequisite if the team wants to be sure that their app design is correct.
If it is not possible to create a use case for a certain requirement, just remove it for good.
Develop the Design
After you have set up project requirements, it is time for software design. Analysts, together with designers, create the high-level design that will describe in theory the overall system’s picture. The preliminary design of a system’s logic and of both frontend and backend allows checking if all of the main blocks will perform correctly together. By that time, the team knows the operating system, language, hardware components and more.
Develop the Architecture
To provide the smooth start of a software development project, the team should also make a thorough low-level design using industry best practices. A low-level design describes an application’s architecture and provides the overall view of its components and their interfaces. Detailed designing provides programming specialists with the detailed logical description of the elements of the future software product.
At this stage, the team creates a prototype that will test each layer’s technology but sets aside the app’s functionality as it is not the specification audit. Having the correct architecture is crucial as it will insure you against the rewriting of the entire solution and will become key to successful software.
Let’s turn to our imaginary flight from Los Angeles to Dubai. Having no precise plan, design and architecture of a future solution is akin to flying to a clearly defined destination without route details. So, after you have suddenly realized that you are headed for the United Arab Emirates via the Antarctic, changing the direction might become too costly and time-intensive. Moreover, the fuel may run out and you will have to make an emergency landing in Antarctica.
Customer Involvement as a Golden Thread
Throughout SaM Solutions’ long-standing practice, our teams have developed multiple applications from scratch. With extensive experience and expertise, we understand the principles that help companies develop successful projects. The key is to give a project the right start, that is, to observe the rules that condition software success, such as establishing clear requirements and planning properly. Other important aspects include staff competency, ownership and executive management support.
These principles help SaM Solutions incorporate the following procedures into software development process:
- Define software quality requirements in an agile manner to avoid extensive specifications
- Establish roles and data streams clearly for quicker knowledge transfer and gradual domain and technology learning curve
- Provide real-time task status updates, deliverables and deadlines for project transparency
- Test with the help of quantified quality metrics for high quality of project deliverables
Based on our extensive expertise, we have created a ready-to-use framework — SaM CloudBOX PaaS — a tool that streamlines software development projects and accelerates them. But still, pursuing the above-mentioned rules is the prerequisite as it helps prevent mistakes further down the road and build a proper solution.
No matter how strictly you adhere to these rules, customer involvement runs like a golden thread at every step of software development. The software creation team may be at the top of their field, but the only way to develop a solution that will suit the customer hundred percent is their direct involvement.