We are currently surrounded by a plethora of software running non stop to make our lives easier. Every small gadget possessed by you, functions through an operating system which is built using software. This is why software development is not just an option but a necessity to digital business and enterprises. According to a recent study released in August 2021, over 605 billion USD is spent on enterprise software development globally.
This is because software development plays a significant role in promoting business, improving sales and services, analyzing data and bringing innovative and customer-centric products and services to market. Therefore, if you are looking for technical and business insights on software development, we have the ultimate guide for you.
Let’s start with the basics.
What is software development?
What is software development is one of the most asked questions of the modern times. While there are a number of software development definitions, on a universal level, it can be defined as:
Software development is a set of information technology based activities which are centered around the process of creating, designing, developing, and maintaining software.
In order to understand what software development means, it’s important to know the meaning of software. It is a set of programs or instructions which tells a computer what to do.
There are four primary types of software –
System software – These software provide core functions like disk management, operating system, hardware management etc. They typically fall in the category of the operational side of the software category.
Programming software – These give developers the tools to write code on and build more software applications. Some examples of this can be – compilers, text editors, debuggers, and linkers, etc.
Application software – These software help people perform tasks. Referring to both web and mobile applications, examples of these software types can be – security apps, social media apps, office productivity suites, eCommerce apps, etc.
Embedded software – These software are used for controlling devices and machines that are not your typical computer – automated robots, cars, etc. The software type is mainly connected through the capabilities of Internet of Things (IOT).
What are the different roles in software development?
Programmers – They write the source code of the computer program which then enables specific tasks such as displaying texts, merging databases, performing searches, etc. Programmers mainly interpret the instructions they get from engineers and software developers and use programming languages like Swift or C++ to perform them.
Software engineers – The role of a software engineer is to develop systems and software that solve problems. They make use of modeling tools and languages to build solutions that can be applied to problems. While on one hand, software engineering adhered to scientific methods, they should find solutions around real world applications.
Over time, the responsibility of software engineers have grown with products becoming more intelligent through sensors, software, and microprocessors.
Software developers – When compared to software engineers, software developers have a less complex role as they can be thoroughly involved in a single project area.
However, they are crucial when it comes to driving the complete software development life cycle. They work across the core teams to convert their requirements into features, manage the development processes and teams, and perform software maintenance.
What are the different software development models?
In the software development domain, there are a number of methodologies or approaches that make the process – from ideation to digital product development easier. For a software development company, it is very important to select a methodology that would best meet the project’s time and resource requirements.
It is undoubtedly one of the most famous business software development processes. Agile focuses on keeping users’ satisfaction at the core instead of focusing on rigid processes and documentation.
The approach enables software developers to work on all the phases of software development simultaneously, in complete cohesion.
It is a fairly straightforward linear approach in which the development stages are attended to in a sequential manner. Each stage is completed before teams move to the next stage, for example, all the project requirements and technicalities are gathered before the project enters the design stage.
The fact that every stage must be completed before moving to the next makes waterfall development methodology easy to understand and implement.
It is a four step methodology that consists of gathering project requirements, prototype, test, and implementation of the suggestions. Unlike the linear models, it focuses on creating prototypes with the current requirements and testing them among real customers. The customer feedback then dictates whether the product should be taken to the production phase or should it be relooked at on the features front.
This software development process concentrates on the development of easy to change software. The model is in many ways a lot more focused on strategy compared to other methodologies.
The goal of lean software development principles is to build and deploy software in half the time, on a limited budget, and little to no workflow.
Steps in the software development process
The next section in the software development guide is understanding the steps of the software development process.
The impeccable project delivery of your mobile app, software suite, or desktop based web application is dependent primarily on the steps that a software development company follows. Besides aiding collaboration, the software development life cycle also structures the work that a development team does. It helps them to meet the project requirements within the set cost and time expectations.
Here’s what the steps of a business software development life cycle looks like.
Step 1: Planning and research
The origin of every great product starts with research. The idea is never enough. It has to be tested against the users’ demand, the profitability element and the scope of expansion.
The first step of the software development life cycle is to measure the idea against these aforementioned points and then look at the technical elements of the process.
The technical elements at this stage surround verifying the technical feasibility of the software. The process involves finding the best tech stack to build the idea upon and gathering the best team of skilled software developers, QA experts, and deployment engineers.
Once both non-tech and tech teams give their go-ahead on the idea, the process moves to the next stage.
Step 2: Wireframing & UI/UX
Once the software concept is finalized, the foundation stage begins. The first step in setting that foundation is wireframing. The stage constitutes the creation of a design system involving UI and UX of the software.
The process starts with creating a wireframe of the solution which looks into the user journey. At this stage, the skeleton of the product is built.
The next step is the creation of a prototype. It is a clickable version of the wireframe which gives the stakeholders an idea about the movement of a user in-app. Prototype highlights the working model of a software. When making the prototype, one of the effective software development tips can be to make it as close to the version businesses have ideated for their brand.
Step 3: Software application development
Once the prototype is finalized, the development process of software applications gets initiated. Here, the developers work on making the prototype a workable software.
The software developers work on the code that makes the software immersive, robust, and scalable. The process usually works on a milestone model. The development project gets divided into stages where the developers and designers work together to complete the project on a milestone by milestone basis.
The stage that follows development – in every milestone – is testing. At every milestone, the product is tested to ensure that it is secure, robust, and scalable.
Step 4: Deployment of the software
Once the software applications are developed and have passed the quality check, the deployment stage comes.
In the deployment stage, the software is shipped on the required platform. It either gets deployed as a standalone solution or as part of an existing legacy system. The deployment engineers at the stage of software to production ensure that the software runs successfully on the platforms with zero glitches and issues.
Step 5: QA and support
A software development life cycle doesn’t just end at its deployment. It continues till the employees or the end-users get accustomed with its working and make it a part of their daily lives.
When we talk about support and maintenance of software applications, there are multiple things that become a part of it – making design upgrades, making it more secure, adding new features in it, strengthening its integration with other platforms, etc.
[Also Read: What is the cost of maintaining an app?]
Why is software development important?
Every business, irrespective of the size and the sector, has found a presence online. In addition to bringing businesses in line with the demand of the modern users, business software development comes with a range of other benefits.
Here are some of the key benefits that software application development promises.
Software application development plays a massive role in taking the business to greater heights. It helps market and spread the news around the business by making it visible to everyone who uses a laptop or a smartphone – a number which stands at 6,387 million for smartphones and 4.66 billion users who use the web.
Example: KFC – The renowned food brand expanded its mobile presence in the Middle East through the KFC application. The app enables users to order and get KFC food delivered right at the doorstep along with the ease of self pickup and table booking. The KFC app development resulted in an increased 28% conversion rate with the successful expansion of the brand.
The secret of a business success lies in being available to the consumers. In the modern world, this can only be achieved with being online. By creating software, businesses can open themselves to their customers around the clock – an availability that results in better sales volume and clients’ trust.
Example: Domino’s – the world’s most loved pizza, recently worked on their mobile application after realizing the potential it carried compared to a website when it comes to higher revenue. And this mere rework led to an increase of 23% in their conversion rate.
Software applications open businesses to new platforms. What generally starts as a website can extend to a mobile application, a presence on home assistance, and an expansion on every device that their customers use and interact with.
Example: IKEA, the world renowned furniture brand recently expanded their digital presence to an ERP solution. Built for IKEA stores, the ERP solution helps walk-in customers go through the store’s product catalogs right from the store-erected tablet panel. The two-fold solution has been used by IKEA for giving customers an in-store catalog solution on one hand and on the other hand using their personal information as a promotion asset. Today, the version has become a key contributor to the business’s promotional efforts.
What is the cost of software development?
One of the key questions that entrepreneurs ask once they have read into the different types of software application development models, the importance it holds for their business growth, and the impact it carries across industries, is what is the cost of software development?
The cost of software applications development is dependent on a number of factors. But at a micro level, it all boils down to three major things:
Complexity of the software
The biggest factor behind the cost of a software application is the complexity of the features and integrations that are a part of it – these are the elements that define the scope of a software. The more complex a software the greater would be the development cost.
Size of the software
The size of a software is usually divided into small, medium, and enterprise grade.
Small software generally serves a very basic need of the user like calculation or a punch in punch out system. Medium-level software applications generally come with a well-defined set of deliverables and milestone details. Projects like mobile apps and web interfaces fall under the category. Enterprise level software is almost always built on a legacy framework. They require a lot of rigorous efforts in the direction of robustness and scalability. The decision of which software type to go with plays a role in deciding the cost of software development.
Team size involved
The team size allocated to a software applications development also plays a major impact on the cost of the digital product. The involvement of a big team with different specialized skill sets will increase the business software development cost, while a limited people team brings it down.
One way businesses bring this cost down is through the mode of cross-platform software application development tools. These software development tools or frameworks run on a single codebase which can then be deployed on multiple platforms with half the team size dependency.
[Also Read: Mobile app development cost]
The making of a software: In-house vs. outsource
The businesses usually have two options when they get to the technical part of software development – building it in-house vs. getting it outsourced.
Benefits of building software in-house
You can create a team from the ground up
When you opt for in-house software development, you get complete control on who works on the project. You can look for professionals across different domains in the market and then hand-pick them to work on your project.
You get a fully dedicated team
With an in-house team you get the guarantee that the team will be working whole and sole on your project and won’t be distracted with other projects. The downside of it can be that once the project is completed, it becomes difficult to retain those employees in-house.
You have control over product direction
If you need complete visibility and control of every individual aspect of the product’s development, building it in-house would be your best choice. You can sit with the development team and work on every individual element and feature-set that best defines your product’s vision and the end goal.
Benefits of outsourcing software development projects
Not limited to a region
The software development businesses, like the space itself, are all across the world. For a business in the US, the best approach would be to expand the search and look for software developers in both – other western nations and the eastern nations. By not limiting themselves to one region, they will be able to get specialized software developers at greater skillset and competitive rates.
There are a number of benefits that remote software developers bring to the table. Benefits ranging from a new mindset driven by geographical differences, competitive prices, and opening up of the business to a wider audience. These benefits also shape the – checking the price of the development, managing the time difference challenges, etc.
The price of software development varies greatly between western and eastern nations. What starts at a price of $10-15 per hour in the western countries ripples down to $8-10 per hour in India and surrounding eastern nations.
The prices, however, cannot be the only factor behind choosing a custom software development company. There are a number of software development outsourcing tips that should be considered by the businesses.
Fast project delivery
Outsourcing can greatly expedite the time to market compared to in-house teams. Building an in-house team requires going through the complexities of recruiting, training, etc. which can be time consuming. While on the other hand, a reliable software development outsourcing company can build a minimum viable product (MVP) in around 12 weeks by adhering to a nimble, agile approach.
Focus on key business
By outsourcing software development, businesses can free up their time and resources to focus on core business activities like brand building, R&D to give value-driven services to their customers.
As for the technology section of software development, it can be best to leave it to the outsourcing firms who can give advice to business leaders and help them through new-age technologies like data analytics, cloud computing, AI, and Blockchain.
Top 5 Software Development Trends
1. AutoML and No code AI
AutoML (Automatic Machine Learning) is the new initiative that automates the Machine Learning process without any manual expertise but in a limited way. For some extensive cases, you can use AutoML to augment integrated functions with almost low code or no code initiative. AutoML is also said to be the subset of the bigger No-Code AI trends that gained major traction in 2021.
2. TensorFlow Deep Learning libraries
There are a plethora of AI libraries to expand the software functionality, however, PyTorch from Facebook and TensorFlow from Google stand ahead of all. TensorFlow has made a massive comeback after its revamp in its 2.0 release and introduces python compatibility, dynamic graph and many other changes.
The recent innovation of TensorFlow is “TensorFlow” Lite that deploys TensorFlow on web and mobile. This AI library has also released TensorFlow Extended (TFX) which is an end-to-end platform to deploy production ML pipelines.
3. DevOps : Intelligent observability
Gone are the days when observability was only crucial for large enterprises. With the rapid expansion of microservice architecture and cloud native development, observability has become vital for modern software development. Modern DevOps introduces telemetry and topology data for various clusters.
We also expect to see the trend of using AI with time series databases to develop several intelligent observability platforms.
4. Public Cloud : Multi cloud momentum
Public cloud adoption was often avoided due to vendor locking. Once you migrate your storage, infrastructure, and compute to the public cloud provider, you are probably vendor locked. Fortunately, modern software development has started a reverse trend that offers API compatible services along with widespread public cloud services. Some common examples are Volterra (distributed cloud services), MinIO (Compatible with S3), LightOS (Cloud Native storage) and many others that can provide Cloud neutrality.
5. Data intensive computation: Spark Vs Public Cloud
Apache Spark has nearly replaced the Hadoop ecosystem as the default data intensive computation framework. Along with this, Apache Beam has gained major traction since it offers a unified programming model to define and execute data processing pipeline.
Similarly, Google’s Cloud DataFlow is a powerful service which also runs on Apache Beam. These frameworks are expected to gain even more popularity among startups and enterprises in the coming years.
Q. How to develop software?
A. The answer to how to develop a software is multi-faceted. The first thing that developers need to know are the different types of software development methodology, the next part is getting together the best software development tools, and finally a team that knows the inside out of the software application development process.
Only a combination of these three elements can together answer how to develop a software.
Q. What is a software development methodology?
A. Software development methodology can be defined as the process in which a software is developed. There are a number of different processes that the developers follow – agile, waterfall, lean development, etc.
Q. What are the different software development tools?
A. There are multiple software developing tools that the developers make use of to streamline the process of application development. Some of the most time tested ones of those are:
- Stack Overflow
- Docker, etc.
The software developing tools together makes it easy to answer how to make a software.
Q. What are a few of the important steps involved in developing software?
A. To create a meaningful software, the development team goes through the below necessary steps:
- Project planning
- System designing
- Software testing and integration
- Post deployment maintenance
Q. What are software outsourcing services?
A. Software outsourcing is a remote service offered by software development companies. These services consist of various processes ranging from full software or mobile application development, design development, testing, quality assurance to product launch and support.
All in all, software outsourcing services are all about hiring a development team or developers external to your company’s staff to help create digital products for your business.