Software development is unavoidable for any industry as it helps companies to achieve that extra edge in service delivery. This guide to software development will help executives stay aware of industry best practices. Knowing them would allow executives to effectively communicate their vision with the software team and assist them with progress monitoring.
A C-level professional appreciating the software development process will allow a business to swiftly react to exiting issues, market changes, and reach out to a wider audience.
By following a guide to software development, one can save their company from wasting a lot of resources on software development - Statistics state that the average cost of software maintenance is only 15-20% of the original software development cost.
It implies with proper software development practices, one's software development cost decreases substantially with more focus on maintenance part!
This guide to software development focuses on 15 practices for shaping a software development process and maturity. It is categorized into 6 steps:
Guide to Software Development with Steps
Step 1: Requirement Elicitation
Bjarne Stroustrup, the creator and developer of the C++ programming language, once said, “The most important aspect of software development is to be clear about what you are trying to build.” We are going to discuss those factors in this section.
Practice 1 - Brainstorming
Developers may not appreciate business requirements on the whole and they might tend more towards development instructions.
It is important to brainstorm and categorize requirements based on priorities (including assumptions). Design Thinking is the best approach to do so.
The design thinking approach is not limited to UI/UX projects but also can be applied anywhere (discussed in detail Practice 6: Product Management Expertise section of this guide to software development).
Step 2: Setup Decisions for Software Maturity
The setup decision stage should be given the same importance as any other capital investment. Choosing a resilient architecture and going after a relevant hosting platform will have a long-lasting valuable impact on your business.
Practice 2 - IT Modernization
Legacy IT systems are one of the causes behind most cyber security issues, system breakdown, process failure leading to temporary business halts, or even substantial losses. Several industries have adopted cloud technology to avoid those issues. Cloud Technology has numerous benefits, and it gives freedom to users to customize system infrastructure with cyber security updates.
If you are not in the cloud, you might want to rethink that, especially when you want:
- Optimizing your IT operational costs
The IT Modernization approach discussed in our guide to software development is based on market analysis. You can have different approach based on your requirements.
Practice 3 - Selection of Platform
Once you have decided on modernization approach, it's time to think about choosing a relevant cloud platform. There are a wide range of platform-as-a services (PaaS) vendors with their pros and cons.
Before investing in a PaaS, you need to understand:
- On-boarding cost
- Commercial terms
- Compliance and risk management
- Data-Protection laws
Most industry leaders opt for vendors like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Services among others. Each of them has its strengths, so choose the right fit for you.
Practice 4 - Microservice Architecture & Containers
Try opting for Microservices architecture for all the complex, evolving applications with clear domains. It is easy to maintain, deploy, and can be modified with business capabilities.
This guide to software development will also discuss interesting stories and fun fact like below, to emphasize on the importance of software development best practices
Earlier, Amazon's retail website followed a Monolithic architecture. However, the interdependency challenges were extreme when they intended to perform any website-related upgrade activities. After switching to Microservice architecture, their retail website performance set a benchmark.
It is a set of applications and dependencies bundled into a software package that is easy to deploy regardless of a computing environment.
Container Use Case
When you transit from one computing environment to another, there could be a high chance of a break-in software flow due to dependencies or other incompatibility issues. Containers avoid such inconsistencies by mending compatibility gaps and helping software run reliably.
Step 3: Product Management Practices
The scope and impact of product management have evolved over the last decade and more so with the ever-increasing footprint of cloud technology. In this section of the guide to software development, we'll investigate on the best product management practices.
Practice 5 - Prototyping
Prototyping is a mock-up of what a product would look like in the end. It helps increase software usability and optimizes investments.
When to use it?
It varies with companies. However, prototyping is done before building anything. While doing software development, it gives a team and client a rough idea of software design and functionality feasibility before the onset of development process.
There are several types of prototyping. This guide to software development will discuss one-liner definitions of some of them.
It is done with minimal effort after doing a minimum requirement analysis.
It begins with minimum requirements and keeps on evolving along the way with further requirement additions.
When you have multiple sub-systems as a part of a bigger system, each of those sub-systems would have its prototypes. Those prototypes would be integrated to form a complete system prototype.
Practice 6 - Product Management Expertise
Product Managers are the micro-CEOs of their products! They are responsible for collating product requirements, communicating functionalities to their team, and owning the success or failure of the product. In a traditional setup, software engineers and operating teams are concerned about feature building, bug-fixing, and secure coding, and they rarely connect with the business side. So, the outcome could be different from the business requirement. That is where product management's expertise becomes vital. As discussed in the earlier section of this guide to software development, we will look into design thinking
It is revolutionizing the product management field by creating products that users love. It is an iterative process to know a user better, relook at assumptions, and reevaluate problems to identify alternative strategies and solutions that might not be evident with an initial level of understanding.
Step 4: Product Development Practices
In many competitive industries, software updates are released at a high frequency (sometimes even multiple updates a week), putting pressure on the development team. Some of the industry-adopted practices that have helped organizations in producing high-quality products at an extremely fast rate. In this section of guide to software development, we'll look into DevOps, DevSecOps, Test Driven Development, and API.
Practice 7 - DevOps and DevSecOps
DevOps is a union of practices, cultural philosophies, and tools to boost a company's product/service delivery rate to a high frequency with high quality. It has surpassed traditional software management and development processes by storm.
In DevOps, all teams including software development and operation teams work together increasing collaboration, productivity, and reducing product loopholes.
DevOps emphasizes accountability and ownership, enabling everyone including business, dev, ops to be responsible for the solution.
Rapid DeliveryIt helps you to quickly fix bugs, add new features, and acknowledge market demands.
With Logging and Monitoring in place, you would be able to measure task performance in real-time.
A study by Atlassian suggests that 61% of the respondents say DevOps has managed to produce high-quality deliverables.
DevSecOps is a similar practice to DevOps which is fused with security from the beginning till the last phase of software development. In other words, Security activities becomes proactive than a reactive process.
Practice 8 - Application Programming Interface (API)-Based Architecture
When your software application is dependent on external data sharing and pre-defined functions, you would require API to bring those dependencies together. They are made of:
They are routines, or functions, that are defined to perform a specific task.
Developers can use FaceBook API to retrieve specific information.
An application relying on API needs to follow certain sets of rules and regulations.
Tools help you to integrate the APIs with your application.
These days there are many ways to log in to a website. Either via username and password or google and social media. When you choose Google or social media for login, the website uses an API to securely connect to Google/social media server and make use of that credentials for login to your website account.
Practice 9 - Test-Driven Development and Test Automation
Test-Driven Development allows rigorous testing of all the implemented features. It looks for the cracks in the code and enables the developers/team so they can remediate.
Step 5: Product Delivery Practices
Agile software development demands mature product-delivery practices which would help companies with collecting vast user data and opening several leveraging possibilities.
Practice 10 - Quality and Productivity Metrics
“What gets measured gets managed”
The amount and depth of real-time data produced by cloud-based applications help in getting granular insights about the customer and the usage patterns. Analyzing this data would play a significant role in predicting and shaping future business decisions. To understand/control the software efficiency, accuracy, system stress measurement, throughput, and quality rate, you would need a well-structured data processing framework, including platform, tools, and people.
Practice 11 - A/B Testing
It is implemented when you have multiple variants of the same feature. A/B testing helps software teams to understand the best variant.
Let’s assume a car manufacturing organization is coming up with a feature change in their software-controlled steering system and have two prototypes lined up for that. In that case, they might go for A/B testing where few users get to explore option A and few get option B. Based on the feedback and usage, you are able to identify the better option.
Practice 12 - Leveraging on the Open-Source Community
Usage of existing libraries and open-source software helps companies reduce costs, beat deadlines, and come up with an astounding product. You will be able to harness the power of a strong software developer community for problem solving. The open-source community has done wonders with developers from different backgrounds coming together to solve real-life challenges and creating a meaningful impact.
Android by Google is an open-source OS that avoids a centralized point of failure where only one player oversees innovation by welcoming developers for their suggestions and views.
Step 6: Enabling Elements
The last section of this executive's guide to software mainly deals with enablers. To enable the success of the software, a well-worked financial model combined with well-planned portfolio management, a strong organizational & governance framework will be required. They play a crucial role in bridging the gap between the technical and non-technical worlds.
Practice 13 - Financial Model and Portfolio Management
Work on the unit economics and develop an expansion plan with a clear emphasis on a portfolio. Take a cue from the classic elements of portfolio management into account while strategizing your portfolio:
- Market attractiveness
- Strategic positioning
- Investment analysis
- Risk assessment
Practice 14 - Organizational Framework
Involving developers in business discussions would help them connect the dots and produce well-designed and polished software. More importantly, their morale would be boosted, and they would feel part of something big!
Once the software is ready, you need to think about marketing the software in the market. A unique value proposition coupled with a strong go to market would help you position the software better.
Practice 15 - Governance Framework
Software governance is a part of corporate governance. Software governance helps the software to align with corporate rules, interests, compliance, and policies.
Without appropriate software governance in place, the software would be prone to several risks, threats, and vulnerabilities that could tarnish a company's reputation.
A few ways to carry out Governance activities would be focusing on Resource Management, Risk Management, Value Delivery, and Performance Management.
You could use frameworks like COBIT for software governance based on your business requirement. Get in touch with our team for support on developing a good governance framework.
Software development is a long road, and the development team plays a vital role in it. This executive's guide to software development can only give you a brief introduction to successful industry practices and by no means covers everything.
We at Qentelli understand the difference between technical and non-technical worlds and know how to bridge the gap. Connect with us to know more about how we transform businesses' digital landscape and help them scale new heights.