What the individual software development process looks like?

Find out how to effectively create dedicated software tailored to the needs of your company. Discover the key steps and challenges!

karol - fota
Karol Stabryla

23rd June 2024

Starting an IT project

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In today's world, where technology is developing dynamically, more and more companies decide to invest in individual programming solutions. Software tailored to the specific needs of an enterprise can significantly increase its efficiency, improve internal processes and provide a competitive advantage on the market. However, the process of creating such software is complex and requires not only appropriate technical skills, but also a deep understanding of the specific nature of the client's business and his expectations. In this article, we will present the stages of the software development process, from initial needs analysis, through design and implementation, to testing and implementation of the finished product. We will also discuss issues related to technological choices, project management and key challenges that may arise at each of these stages. Ready for more? Here's how we create software tailored to your needs step by step.

Requirements analysis

Requirements analysis is the very beginning of an IT project. This step is essential. As part of this process, project contractors must understand the client's business goals and expectations. Thus, business owners who decide to hire specialists to develop such software determine the most important long-term goals. The company performing the order collects all important information that will translate into technological factors supporting the development of the software being created.

Budget preparation

Working on determining your budget is the next step. It is focused on determining the financial resources that are necessary to implement the IT project. Financial resources should include all expected costs, both direct ones, i.e. those that affect the implementation and delivery of the project, but also indirect ones, i.e. those that are necessary for the operation of the company and the implementation of projects. For a more detailed analysis of software costs, we invite you to read our dedicated blog post: "What is the cost of dedicated software?", which provides an in-depth analysis of various factors affecting these expenses

Technology selection

Choosing a technology is a very important issue, because this decision will affect the entire course of the project and its future functioning. The team of specialists intended to make such a choice and to create the software itself should select the technology and frameworks that will be best suited to the project requirements. It is important for the company to choose the technology it knows best, which can significantly shorten the project implementation time and reduce the risk of errors. Additionally, current market trends should be taken into account to ensure long-term support and stability of the project.

Designing an IT system

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This is the main stage in which the software is created, right after the analysis and the first key aspects mentioned in the previous section. The aim of this stage is to create an efficient and functional solution, taking into account the final assumptions of the project, user perception and overcoming problems and barriers in the industry for which the software is created.

System Functionality Analysis

At the beginning of software development, designers define the functionalities that the software will offer. These functionalities establish the scope of the application’s capabilities, adapting them to business requirements and user expectations. This can be described as a set of features that are designed based on user interactions, market analysis, and competitive product research. These efforts ensure that the software is better tailored to user needs, meets market demands, and provides a competitive edge.

Example of basic functionalities:

  • User Interface (UI): Ensures interactivity and accessibility for the user.

  • Registration and Login: Allows users to create accounts and access securely.

  • Data Storage: Provides a place for storing and managing data.

Examples of advanced functionalities:

  • Advanced Analytical Tools: For monitoring and reporting application performance.

  • Advanced Security Options: Enhance user data protection.

  • Integration Capabilities with Other Applications and Services via API: Allows the application to connect with external systems and services.

Process modeling

The next step in implementing an IT project is process modeling. This stage includes:

  • Statement of Purpose: Understanding why the process is being modeled and what the end goals are, e.g. performance improvement, process analysis, automation, and regulatory compliance.

  • Collecting information about the process: conversations with stakeholders, analysis of documentation

  • Creating a model: selecting modeling tools, creating a preliminary model, identifying inputs and outputs

Process modeling aims to show what actions a program performs and in what order. Modeling also helps to improve business process optimization and eliminates potential errors and inefficiencies.

Modeling methods:

  • Data flow diagrams (DFD): are used to graphically represent how data is processed in a system. They show how information moves from a source (e.g. a user) to a destination (e.g. a database) through various processes. DFDs help identify what data is needed to perform an operation and what processes are responsible for it.

  • BPMN (Business Process Model and Notation): a standard graphical language for modeling business processes. It allows for a detailed presentation of how various activities take place within the organization. BPMN allows you to understand the sequence of activities, interactions between different departments and process automation.

System architecture

The next element is designing the system architecture, i.e. the technological issue of software. It defines, among other things, alternative ways of storing data, interacting with other systems, principles of ensuring security, scalability and product performance.

Architecture components:

  • Database - systems that store and manage a set of data. They are used to effectively store information, enabling its organization, manipulation and sharing with users.

  • Application/web server - software responsible for processing and delivering applications or web content to users. They are responsible for handling client requests and implementing the application's business logic.

Design aspects:

  • Modularity - dividing the system into smaller, independent components, which facilitates the development, modification and reuse of code and ensures greater scalability and flexibility of the system.

  • Flexibility in maintenance | System adaptability - the ability of the system to easily adapt to changes in requirements and conditions, which enables quick response to business needs and minimizes maintenance and expansion costs.

  • High availability and data security - which means that the system is resistant to failures, guarantees business continuity and ensures data protection against loss, theft or unauthorized access.

  • Design Patterns - Proven software design strategies that effectively solve common problems in system architecture, making the code easier to maintain, extend, and understand.

Testing and creating reports

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Testing is an equally important process when developing software. It's safe to say that the testing stage is as important as creating the code itself. Testing is mainly responsible for controlling the quality of the product in terms of customer and end-user requirements. Additionally, this process enables the detection of failures, defects or faults.

Through software quality control, we make sure that the product meets customer requirements and end-user expectations. This helps avoid costly errors and glitches that could impact the functionality, performance or security of the application. In today's competitive technological environment, product quality is crucial for market success, and testing is an essential step to ensure it when creating an IT project.

The testing process usually includes several stages, starting from planning and designing tests, through their execution, to analyzing the results and reporting. During planning, it is determined what will be tested and how, as well as what tools and techniques will be used. The test execution stage includes conducting tests according to the plan, recording errors and failures, and categorizing them. In the final phase, the results are analyzed, reports are prepared and decisions are made about further steps, such as correcting errors or retesting.

Product implementation

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Product deployment in the software development process is a critical stage that encompasses various activities aimed at introducing the system into a real user environment. At this point, the system, which has been previously prepared and tested, is finally made available to users or clients.

Launching software on the market requires careful planning, a series of tests, conducting training for users, and providing technical support. After deployment, it is also extremely important to continuously monitor the system's performance, deliver necessary updates, and ensure its maintenance.

Interacting with your audience

It is nothing more than communication with people who ultimately use the created product in the form of an application. They provide feedback that allows them to adapt the software to their needs and make any corrections. It is the end users who provide the software developers with the so-called feedback, which enables making necessary corrections and adapting the program structure to the client's needs. It is important for IT specialists to be in constant contact with their audiences in order to:

  • Understanding how users work with the new system

  • Identify any operational issues or uncertainties.

Training and support

Partner training is another process when introducing software to the market. This stage allows users to become thoroughly familiar with all product functionalities and learn how to use them effectively. Information about the software's capabilities is provided by implementation specialists or instructors, who also provide support in solving any doubts.

Usage monitoring

Effective monitoring of software use allows for quick detection of errors and assessment of the performance of the program infrastructure. This is necessary for:

  • Analysis of data regarding the frequency of use of individual program solutions;

  • Optimize processes and program infrastructure configuration based on actual usage.

Project management

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It is a process that includes planning, monitoring and controlling all aspects of the plan and its assumptions, as well as all activities that involve motivating team members to achieve the goals of the plan and its assumptions within established constraints.

Assigning tasks to team members

This is one of the key elements in the project management process. Each team member receives his own guidelines that he must implement in the software development process. His duties must be tailored individually to each team member, taking into account his skills and experience.

Tasks should be clearly defined in terms of objectives, scope and expected results. Therefore, you should take into account:

  • Competence analysis - matching skills to tasks

  • Assignment of responsibility - defining who is responsible for particular tasks

  • Setting priorities - determining the order in which tasks should be performed based on program criteria

Implementation control

Product growth control is another cycle included in the project management process itself. This is a step needed to keep the program on track, taking into account previous assumptions, of course. Monitoring progress helps identify deviations from the planned plan and quickly take corrective actions.

Important aspects in this process include:

  • Delivery progress - use of tracking tools such as Gantt tables or kanban systems

  • Team meetings - Regular meetings to hold discussions on the current status of the project

  • Reports - creating and analyzing progress reports

Cooperation with partners

Communication with customers is an integral aspect to the success of the planning plan. What helps manage expectations and support commitment to the project is the constant generation and transfer of information about the current progress of the project.

What also certainly supports the coordination process with partners is:

  • Regular updates - informing partners about progress and possible obstacles

  • Feedback - collecting feedback from partners and implementing necessary changes to the project

  • Conflict resolution - mediation in case of conflicts between stakeholders and the project team

Communication with the client

A group of young people in a modern office, talking at a table with laptops, suggesting a meeting or collaboration on a project.

Dialogue and ongoing conversation with the client is another aspect that is very necessary when creating individual software. It is important in this process that communication is clear and understandable. This is needed to create as much awareness as possible about the client's goals and the limitations that the application must contain.

We have already talked about communication with the client many times in this article. Please remember that this has a huge impact on the previously described stages of the individual software development process.

Customer requirements specification

At the beginning of every IT project, it is important to thoroughly understand the client's needs and expectations. The task of the project team is to collect all information, and then a document called a detailed requirements specification is developed. To create such a set of information, a number of meetings and workshops with the client and end recipients must be held. This provides greater assurance that all needs have been addressed.

The key elements of the requirements specification are:

  • Functionalities - what functions the product should contain.

  • Obstacles - what significant factors (e.g. budget, technology) need to be taken into account.

  • Priorities - which functions are the most important and should be implemented first.

Barriers and risks

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When creating dedicated software, you should be aware of limitations and risks. They are an important element for the success of the entire project.

Managing project barriers

This cycle involves analyzing and managing any potential obstacles that may occur during the implementation of the project. Effectively managing project barriers also requires cooperation and communication among team members. Open communication allows for faster identification of problems and their effective resolution.

Examples of IT project barriers include:

  • Resources - the number of available specialists, equipment or technologies.

  • Time - deadlines related to the delivery of individual project elements.

  • Budget - the financial framework of the project that cannot be exceeded

Contingency planning

What really is the contingency planning process? This is nothing more than preparing action plans in the event of unexpected events occurring while creating a dedicated application. These events may negatively affect the final result of the project. During emergency planning, potential risks and threats are identified. Then, their possible consequences are analyzed and the actions that should be taken if they occur are determined. As part of this process, appropriate resources, tools and procedures are also prepared to enable quick response to emerging problems.

The key steps in contingency planning are:

  • Identification of risks - listing potential difficulties and unexpected events.

  • Development of plans - creation of detailed procedures to deal with identified risks.

  • Testing and updating - regularly checking the effectiveness of plans and updating them.

Managing a team of programmers

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The main effect of managing a team of developers is the speed of software delivery. Additionally, we focus on adapting work methods to a specific project and effective implementation of new technologies.

The power of fast delivery

The power of rapid delivery means releasing new features or fixes frequently and regularly. This is important because it allows you to respond quickly to changing customer requirements. When a product is delivered faster, the customer can immediately verify whether it meets his expectations and report any comments or changes.

The power of rapid delivery enables you to both gain market advantage and continuously collect feedback from your audience (end users). Also drawing on the information from the previous paragraphs, it can be concluded that the speed of delivery affects the entire software development process.

Work methodology

Work methodology refers to the principles and techniques that determine how tasks are planned, performed, monitored and evaluated within a project. It is a way of organizing work and interaction between team members in order to achieve specific project objectives.

These are some of the methods that we can distinguish when implementing a project by an IT company

  • Agile: Ensures flexibility and adaptability, promotes continuous communication between team members and with the contractor.

  • Scrum: Dividing the project into short sprints allows you to regularly assess progress and quickly adapt to changing requirements.

  • Kanban: Makes it easier to visualize work and prioritize tasks, leading to more efficient workflow management.

Adaptation in the industry

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In the face of a dynamically developing IT market, companies must adapt to keep up with changing requirements and new technologies. The process of creating individual programming requires continuous monitoring and implementation of new solutions tailored to the area of ​​activity and the needs of recipients.

Analyzing market trends

Assessment of current market trends is the key to understanding what technologies are gaining popularity, what functions are currently desired by recipients, and what problems and challenges are typical for a given area of ​​activity. The IT industry requires specialists to constantly develop and immediately deliver new solutions, which can be a factor determining competitive advantage.

Adaptation to the specific nature of the business field

Each industry has its own unique requirements and certain limitations - from legal regulations to the specific needs of recipients. For example, in the financial sector it is important to ensure data security, while in the area of ​​entertainment activities it may be crucial to combine new technologies with recipient interactions. IT companies must take these specifics into account when implementing an IT project in order to deliver a product tailored to the needs and expectations of customers.

System development and scaling

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The development and scaling of IT systems are key elements determining the success of any technology project. As systems become more popular and complex, and the number of users and the amount of data processed increases, it is necessary to ensure that the infrastructure can meet these challenges.

Integration with existing systems

When ensuring the best possible creation of an IT system, it is crucial to ensure its compatibility and integration with external systems. This integration should be smooth, and its smoothness includes:

  • API compatibility - the ability of different systems and applications to interact using specific sets of rules and protocols, enabling seamless exchange of data and functions between them.

  • Ability to exchange data in various formats - the ability to transmit and receive information in various standards, which enables interoperability between various systems and applications.

Evolution in the context of the future

The real lifespan of the dedicated software created depends on its ability to evolve. We must know that in this industry, both market and technological conditions require the system to be flexible and adaptable to new solutions. Therefore, in the context of development and maintaining the viability of the application, we must take into account:

  • Modular architecture enabling the addition of new functionalities - this allows the application to be divided into independent, interchangeable parts that can be developed, tested and implemented independently of each other.

  • Processes of obtaining and implementing feedback from stakeholders and other elements of periodic assessment of system effectiveness - by systematically collecting user opinions and suggestions, we can identify areas requiring improvement or repair.

  • Strategy planning in the context of future requirements and technological trends - thanks to this, IT project contractors can adapt their products or services to future market needs, increasing their ability to innovate and adapt in a changing technological environment.

Assessing IT projects

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The next stage of activities performed in the software development lifecycle. Its purpose is to verify the effectiveness of systems and inform about strategic decisions, i.e. decisions made at the highest level of management in the organization that have a long-term impact on its development.

Evaluating effectiveness

This is nothing more than a change in the effectiveness of the project during its duration. Experts focus on analyzing the extent to which the system meets the assumed business goals and technical requirements. When evaluating the effectiveness of a dedicated application, key indicators should be distinguished, such as: product compliance with user requirements, performance, stability and software security. And we can measure these indicators using various methods or tools. Examples include:

  • Analysis of error and incident reports,

  • Surveys and interviews with end users,

  • Performance and penetration testing.

Analysis of data from these sources allows for an objective assessment of how much the system contributes to achieving the company's business goals and whether it is resistant to threats.

Making decisions about further development

Based on the information collected about the software, both data collected during its creation and during its operation, the project manager makes decisions about the future of the application. Whether the software will be continued, whether its system will have more new functionalities, and whether the existing ones will be restructured depends on several factors:

  • Current technology and its ability to be further updated,

  • Response to the changing needs of the market and recipients,

  • Compliance with the company's future visions and strategies,

  • Analysis of costs and potential return on investment (ROI).

Let us remember that including customers in the evaluation and decision-making process can increase the chances of success and acceptance of changes in the project by all recipients of the system.

Documentation management

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To ensure order and efficiency in an IT project, software development organizations take care of aspects such as document management. Well-managed IT project documentation provides team members with access to necessary information and facilitates communication with customers and end users.

Creating and maintaining system documentation

If we are talking about document management, we must first start creating it. This activity includes not only recording technical or business specifications, but also recording work progress and changes to the source code. 

What are the benefits?

Maintaining up-to-date documentary records allows you to quickly identify and repair problems, as well as effectively introduce new solutions.

Below we will describe several examples that constitute documentation in IT projects and briefly describe them:

  • Requirements specification - a document specifying detailed needs and expectations for a system or product.

  • Instructions for users - how to use a given system, application or device. Thanks to this, the user is able to use the software effectively and safely.

  • Change Records - Documentation that tracks and records any modifications made to a system, application, or project. This helps teams maintain transparency in the system development and maintenance process.

  • Reporting -  documenting ongoing project progress for stakeholders.

Conclusions and completion of the project

At the end of the implementation of an IT project, a reliable summary of the activities performed and the assessment of the results achieved become crucial.

At the stage of finalizing the assumed plan, the team conducts a detailed analysis of all stages of work. This is to assess compliance with the original requirements and identify areas requiring improvement or further development. Reporting results includes not only the presentation of the achieved final product to the client, but also a summary of planned and unforeseen challenges that the project team had to face. It is important that the report contains:

  • Project documentation - all stages of work should be documented for historical and educational purposes, which allows for reuse in future projects.

  • User feedback - the feedback received can be used to further improve the product and improve future designs

  • Budget summary - a detailed analysis of expenses in relation to planned budgeting is crucial for financial evaluation.

  • Analysis of achievements - determining which project goals have been achieved and which require further work.

  • Recommendations for the future - economical conclusions and recommendations on how to approach similar projects in the future.

Finalization of the project or IT application contributes to drawing conclusions that are necessary to increase the efficiency of management of future projects in the area of ​​IT activities.

Frequently asked questions

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What are the key challenges during the software development process for information systems that must be overcome to achieve project success?

The key challenges during the process of creating software for IT systems are:

  • Understanding and meeting customer and stakeholder requirements

  • Effective communication and cooperation in the team Managing changes and unexpected modifications in the project

  • Maintaining code quality and ensuring its testability

  • Integration with existing systems and tools

  • Ensuring data security and protection

  • Risk management and minimization

  • Maintaining schedule and budget

  • Supporting continuous improvement and learning within the team

  • Software scalability and flexibility for the future.

How does an IT project start and what activities take priority?

Before starting an IT project, there is usually a meeting with the client where the goals and recommendations of the project are established. Then, documentation and an implementation plan are created. Priority is always given to understanding the needs of customers and defining the scope of implementation.

What factors most often influence the software development process?

Significant factors that can influence the software development process include: budget, time, human and technological resources. These aspects may force compromises on the functionality and scope of the implementation plan.

  • user requirements

  • project planning and management

  • team communication and cooperation

  • technologies and tools

  • testing and quality

  • change management

  • compliance with regulations and standards

  • risk assessment

  • resource availability

  • feedback and iterative development

What role do team members play in the IT systems design process?

Team members are responsible for various aspects of IT system design, from analysis and design through programming to testing and implementation. The team must work well together for the process to run smoothly and effectively.

What approaches are used to rapidly deliver new features in the IT business?

Agile methodologies such as Scrum and Kanban are used to quickly deliver new solutions. They are characterized by short production cycles, continuous testing and improvement, which allows for ongoing changes and quick adaptation to market needs.

Waterfall methodology is a traditional way of conducting projects in which each phase of the project (e.g. requirements analysis, design, coding, testing, implementation) is carried out sequentially. Each phase must be completed before the next begins, which provides an orderly structure but is less flexible as requirements change.

Scrum is an agile approach that divides the project into short iterations called sprints, usually lasting 1-4 weeks. In each sprint, the team plans, develops, tests and delivers ready-to-use features. Scrum involves constant communication between the team and stakeholders, as well as regular retrospectives and planning meetings. This makes the agile methodology - Scrum - more flexible and better able to cope with constantly changing requirements.

To what extent does customer feedback influence software implementation?

The report as a feedback from the customer is extremely important and often determines the direction in which the product develops. They allow the software to be adapted to the current needs of the recipient and may lead to the modification of program solutions or the development of new ones.

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