Software as a Service product development is a constantly evolving field. The perfect SaaS product starts with the perfect idea… but a great idea alone won’t get you all the way. The process of developing software products is highly organised, with precise procedures and strict steps that must be followed to see a project from concept to creation!
The Software Development Life Cycle is a set of best practices that helps engineers, non-engineers, and stakeholders to work together to turn your SaaS development idea into unique software.
Knowledge of the Software Development Life Cycle is a key asset to those looking to get a job in tech in 2021.
This structure enables the development teams to meet their deadlines and stay within budgets while meeting project requirements. In the software development life cycle, the stages depend on the process a company chooses, such as agile, waterfall, V-model, rapid application development (RAD), or incremental development.
Regardless of your companies workflow, whether developing a high-functioning website or that next killer app, here are some common stages you can expect to encounter throughout the software development process…
Research & Planning
With a great idea in place, you are now in an excellent position to begin conducting market research. Market research is an excellent way of understanding both your customers’ requirements and pain points. Before building software, it’s important to communicate with the customer thoroughly, so you can understand their needs.
A Customer Requirement Specification (CRS) document is written from the perspective of the customer and summarizes in a simple manner what the software will do.
Stakeholder feedback can be incorporated into planning.
During the planning phase, project leaders will evaluate the project’s terms.
Labour and material costs are calculated, a timetable with target goals is set, and the project team and leadership structure are created.
An application’s scope and purpose should be clearly defined during planning. This creates a roadmap and gives the team all the resources it needs to produce successful software. Moreover, it establishes boundaries to prevent the project from expanding or shifting from its original purpose. A carefully executed research and planning stage is a key component to a successful SaaS start-up!
Project Requirements & Feasibility Analysis
The purpose of this stage is to examine the financial, technical, operational, and time management concerns of software development. This step is crucial to the development of functional specifications and designs.
This is typically carried out by product managers, business analysts, software architects, developers, human resources, and finance managers.
Clean code and catchy designs are not enough to build a stand-out app; the development team must first gain a deeper understanding of the project goal and collect all the requirements.
Analysing feasibility encompasses all the technical and economic factors contributing to the application development process. Estimates on time, resources, and involvement help determine ROI and project cost and profit.
Additionally, requirements analysis assists in identifying the risks at the beginning of the project and developing strategies for mitigating those risks.
It is important for clients and developers to have clear, structured documentation to ensure better collaboration.
Creating The Design For SaaS Development
The next step is to develop a software blueprint once the analysis stage is over.
An architect and senior developer create the architecture of the code, together with a detailed description of how each component of the code should operate.
Some aspects of the design include:
Architecture – Refers to programming languages, industry practices, and general design.
User Interface – Defines how customers interact with the software.
Platforms – Determines the platform on which the software will be utilised, such as Apple, Android, Windows, etc,
Programming – This includes not only the language itself but methods for resolving problems and performing tasks within the application as well.
Communications – Defines how the application can communicate with other assets such as a central server or other instances
Security – This is how the application will be protected, including SSL traffic encryption, password protection, and secure storage of user credentials.
Design can include prototyping. A prototype is a very early version of software created iteratively. It demonstrates to stakeholders a rough expectation of the expected end product. For further reading check out this comprehensive resource of software engineering fundamentals.
Coding, Testing, and Installation
Coding is the next step in SaaS development. In addition to making sure their code meets the software requirements, they must also ensure that it conforms to the stakeholders’ requirements, etc. Once the complete architecture and planned functionality of the solution are built, the testing stage starts.
When releasing an application to the public, it must be tested. Like security testing, much of the testing can be automated.
You can only do some testing in a specific environment. A simulated production environment might be relevant for deployments that require a great deal of complexity.
Each function should be tested to ensure it works properly. It is also necessary to test the interoperability of the application by performing a performance test, to ensure the application runs smoothly. A robust testing phase helps users encounter fewer bugs improving user satisfaction and usage rates as a result.
Following that, the release engineer deploys the program on a server. A straightforward release might be appropriate (if the project is simple) or staggered release may be appropriate (in stages) if the project is complex.
One example of a complex deployment is upgrading a company-wide database to a newly developed application. The database uses several other systems, so integrating the upgrade can take more time and effort.
Automating the deployment phase is also a popular choice for many companies. It could be as simple as a payment portal and download link on the company’s website.
Maintaining The Product
Maintenance is an ongoing process. Although an application has been developed and is currently being used in the field the operation and maintenance phase in SaaS development is still crucial.
During this phase, users uncover bugs that weren’t discovered during testing. In the process of resolving these errors, a new development cycle can be initiated.
In addition to bug fixes, It is maintenance that modifies or adds new features to existing modules in the software, depending on the client’s requirements.
Support and maintenance can extend for years after a product’s initial release, and the quality of maintenance and support can quite often have a direct impact on your company’s reputation and how it’s perceived within the market.
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Written by James Coffey