How Do I Start the Software Development Process?

Jonas Salk once said, “What people think of as the moment of discovery is really the discovery of the question.” While the famed polio vaccine developer was referring to science-related projects, his adage applies to the software development process in a profound way.

As apps are designed to solve problems, many stakeholders, including developers, operate under the belief that the moment of discovery occurs when they find a problem’s solution. However, if you embrace Salk’s philosophy, true discovery comes in finding the right questions to ask.

By asking the “right” questions, stakeholders, owners, project managers, and developers can:

  • Name the most critical underlying issues.
  • Design an effective solution more quickly.

A software development company that uses an approach grounded in exploring the problem at hand can better understand the software's functionality and purpose. Simply asking the right questions drives a more effective and efficient software development process.

If you’re preparing to outsource software development, you probably have a million questions. We want to help you get that number down to something more manageable. Because when you narrow your questions down to the ones that get to the heart of the problem, you’re better equipped to find the right outsourcing partner and achieve your goals.

What Information is Needed Before Starting a Software Development Project?

Software development is a complex, ever-evolving field that many people find intimidating. It’s not uncommon for stakeholders who feel this way to shell out often inordinate sums of money to third parties just so they don’t have to deal with a process they don’t understand.

We’re not huge fans of the let’s-just-throw-a-bunch-of-money-at-a-project-and-hope-for-the-best approach. Our agile software development process relies on all stakeholders taking part in planning, researching, and developing web and mobile apps. First, close collaboration guarantees everyone’s needs and expectations are met on an ongoing basis. Second, it ensures the end product is of the highest quality.

Graphic with bullet points listing the steps of the software development process
Starting a Software Development Project? Ask These Questions

We always suggest that our clients start the software development process by conducting an internal assessment that covers:

  • The product’s goals and scope, including the problem it aims to solve.
  • End-user needs and requirements.
  • What technical requirements, such as programming language, platform, and software architecture there are.
  • A realistic budget and timeline.
  • Putting together a project team.

Of course, if there are topics you need more clarity on, like a programming language, the outsource development companies you’re vetting should be able to give you a sound and easy-to-understand description of your options.

When it comes to choosing an outsource partner, you ultimately won’t go wrong if you select one who can check off “yes” to these three criteria:

1. Their portfolio illustrates their value proposition.

2. They build the type of software you’re looking for.

3. They have a reputation for thought leadership in the industry.

One final bit of pre-planning advice. Don’t hold back on what you expect from your outsource development partner. Ask potential partners what types of projects they are and aren’t a good fit for. If they respond by saying, “We’re good at all types of projects!” consider taking them out of contention. A trustworthy software development company is always willing to say when they don’t think they’re suitable for the job.

What Are The First Steps in the Software Development Process?

Zibtek takes a practical agile approach to software development that’s based on four core values:

1. Individuals and interactions over processes and tools.

2. Functioning software over extensive documentation.

3. Client collaboration over contract negotiation.

4. Responding to change over rigid plan adherence.

This iterative approach to software development designs, develops, and tests code in repeated cycles and uses small, manageable tasks called user stories. We then prioritize, estimate, and assign the stories to “sprints,” or time-bound development cycles that, depending on a project’s scope, are usually one to four weeks long.

During sprints, the development team tests and delivers working software increments for stakeholders to review and assess. Any feedback is then used to refine the product and plan for the next sprint.

What Questions Should I Ask My Software Development Company?

Now let’s circle back to our opening thoughts and talk about which questions will help you choose a development partner who can deliver the software product you envision.

1. What experience does your company have developing software solutions? Do you have case studies I can look at?

2. Can you walk me through your development process in a way I can understand?

3. How do you ensure the final product meets my business’s needs and goals?

4. How do you handle changes in project scope and requirements?

5. What is your communication process during development?

6. How do you ensure software and user data security and privacy?

Taken as a whole, these six questions help you quickly learn about a company's expertise, approach, and commitment to delivering software solutions that meet your vision and requirements. They also ensure a transparent line of communication so you stay informed and involved throughout the development process.

Zibtek graphic about questions and communication for software development process
Starting a Software Development Project? Ask These Questions

We Have a “Soft Spot” for Questions!

We love famous-people quotes because they often get our point across much more succinctly than we do. So we’ll close this piece with another favorite, this time from American philosopher John Dewey. Renowned for his pragmatic theory of inquiry, Dewey believed that “A problem well put is half-solved.”

In other words, when there’s a clear and concise understanding of a problem, you’re halfway toward finding a solution. As your software development partner, we work with you to clearly define the problem you hope to solve, as that makes it easier for our team to develop software that achieves your goals.

Of course, no one’s trying to pretend that budget questions aren’t a priority in software development, but they’re rarely the best way to find an outsource partner you can trust to deliver what you’re looking for. Fortunately, queries related to goals, timelines, and quality requirements typically help you avoid unnecessary costs due to over-engineering or developing non-required features. Voila! Budget concerns resolved.

To learn more about our software development process and how we can best put it to work for your next project, reach out to us today.