In this article, a top software product development company in Vietnam, Saigon Technology shares its valuable insights and profound knowledge of building a comprehensive and award-winning software product from scratch and establishing an effective development process.
Team at Saigon Technology Solutions
Are you going to build a software product? Well, there are many steps and pitfalls you must be aware of before diving into the process. Software product development is a complex journey that requires the involvement of intelligent strategies, experienced teams, and a full steak of the latest technologies. It's a creative area where the innovation and proven practices overlap to give birth to an entirely new software product - a user-friendly, visually appealing, and functional solution.
With a proven track record in IT consulting and custom software development, Saigon Technology team helps innovation-thinking businesses worldwide bring their digital product into reality and develop solutions that make people's everyday challenges a breeze. Today, we're going to share our knowledge with you to help you maneuver between software product development pitfalls and navigate this journey more easily. In this article, we will consider:
- The Stages of The Full Product Development Cycle
- Responsibilities of a Project Manager at the Early Stages
- Software Development Processes During the Implementation Phase
- Release and Ongoing Delivery of Your Software Product
Hopefully, our insights will help you set a highly effective software development process and build outstanding software products.
The Brief Overview of The Full Product Development Cycle
Every software is unique and requires a range of iterations each making it closer to perfection. Although every digital product has a defined set of features, peculiarities, and a different level of complexity, there is a specific algorithm of actions adopted by many companies as one of the most effective ways to build a digital product. Mostly, it consists of six fundamental steps leading to software product deployment. Let's consider them.
Proof of concept (POC)
Proof of concept in software development is an approach that implies testing a certain assumption to confirm that an idea is feasible, viable, and applicable in practice. It's usually conducted at the early stages of a software product development cycle to refine a product concept and introduce it to the client in a clear and comprehensive format. Proof of concept involves analyzing expectations from the platform, identifying possible stumbling blocks, and defining the project scope. The full product design process is typically thoroughly documented at the POC stage.
At this step, architecture designers convert a product idea into a blueprint for full implementation. They tailor a detailed architecture plan built according to all the product requirements. It requires an excellent balance of functionality, quality, performance benchmark, and time-to-market. This stage also includes the user experience research and crafting the UI/UX design implementation plan.
It's time to create prototypes. A product prototype is an incomplete version of the software with several features or even some aspects of the planned features to be implemented in the end-product. A prototype allows developers to test product functionality, get some insights about the accuracy of the initial project estimates, and determine whether the milestones will be met as planned initially. For the client, it allows comparing if a product corresponds to the defined specifications.
The product engineering stage means nailing the code itself. At this phase, software engineers reveal their skills, expertise, and talents in full by turning a plan into a full-fledged software product. This stage is fertile soil for emerging innovations, solutions reducing the time-to-market, and continuous product optimization. It's commonly followed by a range of user tests and a QA process to detect bugs or any other kind of issues and eliminate them before the official product launch. This sub-stage has paramount importance for project success and confirms the product's readiness to meet the customer.
Maintenance & support
The product may be performed perfectly. However, it will surely need maintenance and support in perspective. Maintenance implies the continuous iterations with a product, removing errors that may arise during a product life, and adjusting the system to different working environments. Engineers involved in software maintenance and support combine testing, enhancement, and development activities to ensure perfect product performance and up-to-dateness.
Re-engineering & legacy modernization
Obviously, there are neither perfect nor immortal things in the whole Universe. Similarly, your software product will require regular updates and improvements to keep abreast of the fast-changing digital world's innovations. We live in an epoch that needs us to evolve continuously and even faster than before. The same is required from the products we create.
Thus, software re-engineering and modernization have become obligatory during a product development journey. Even the best products may lose their relevance and competitive edge if you don't keep an eye on the latest developments and legacy alterations. So, be sure your software corresponds to the actual market demands and requirements.
Responsibilities of a Project Manager at the Early Stages
Above, we have considered the essential steps of a product development cycle. Now, it's time to explore a software development kitchen from the inside. In this part, we will outline how to organize the process more effectively and what methodologies work best for software teams.
The first thing to explore is what's the role and key responsibilities of a project manager. This person is a contact between the client and the team. A professional project manager should combine the skills of a business analyst and leader at this stage. Here we consider the main tasks this person should accomplish during the project.
Organize the kickoff meeting
The primary action required is to organize the kickoff meeting. It is the first call when all project stakeholders get acquainted with each other and the team that is finally assembled. During this meeting, the team usually defines, assigns, and prioritizes tasks from a technical point of view. It helps to create clear timelines and set deadlines for every development stage.
Describe needs and problems
At this phase, a team listens to the client's goals and needs, conducts problem research, and investigates the product requirements described in a business model canvas or a similar document. It allows a team to shape a solution and outline it in a document called Product Vision. This approach allows custom software development companies to build a rough logic of the system and break it down into modules that are prioritized, planned, and implemented iteratively step by step later. This phase plays a particular role in product success, as it's basically aimed to create the foundation for the future product and development roadmap.
Form a basic stack of technologies
It's the right moment to select and agree on the technologies and platforms used for product development. Our team at Saigon Technology usually considers that the client product should evolve over time, so we must choose a technology stack that will give it free space for continuous development and enhancement. This is why we always prefer the latest technologies.
Document responsibilities of all stakeholders
We believe that effective communication is critical for product success; that's why we pay special attention to setting it appropriately from the very beginning. Thus, we spend time to document the roles and responsibilities of absolutely all project stakeholders and decision-makers. It helps us avoid misunderstanding that may arise in the future and ensure more effective and consistent communication since the project's stage one.
Develop project documentation
We find it crucial to create project documentation. Basically, it includes specifications, user stories, acceptance criteria, and non-functional requirements. Project documentation embraces questions about the expected system's behavior, software development environment, and any other constraints.
Creating at least minimum project documentation allows the team to understand project requirements, user needs and problems, and essential details that have been unobvious at the beginning. It gives a competitive advantage to a software product since many software teams avoid this step and don't receive valuable insights that empower developers to create better software.
Estimate the UI/UX design phase
At this step, the development process overlaps with the user interface and experience design. Usually, it's time to create sketches, wireframes, and craft a user flow to investigate how a system will work. Here the document with a Product Vision can be particularly helpful. Designers can use it to dig deeper into the product essence, understand user problems, and create a design that addresses them.
Organize a process of collaboration and communication
Meanwhile, a project manager should care about establishing effective collaboration and communication within the team and with the client. It includes incorporating communication tools and setting a system of reporting, interactions, demonstration of tasks done, debugging reports, etc.
The PM additionally researches a technical solution and involves more experts in the development process if needed. This person is also responsible for monitoring deadlines and milestones and motivating the team to successfully achieve all of them. Together with technical professionals, he continuously creates project documentation. Finally, a project manager is the first person responsible for project delivery and reporting to the client.
As a result of all the work done appropriately, you will see that an entire project is well-planned, all the tasks are set and prioritized, everyone consistently performs their parts, and the team performs great like clockwork.
Software Development Processes During the Implementation Phase
Now, everything is planned and prepared for the implementation. Software engineers receive an estimate for development that is based on mockups and wireframes. Let's consider the four most essential substages of this phase of product development. The project manager's role is crucial here too.
Use the Agile Mindset/Scrum Methodology
We use Agile mindset (or Agile development process) and Scrum Methodology for more effective teamwork and recommend using them to everyone. This approach allows welcoming changes in the project and making a product more easily adjustable to the dynamic market. It involves regular project discussions that are briefly summarized and documented. Every summary includes the outline of all the required changes and improvements set for the team's approval, alteration, or rejection. Approved changes are being gradually implemented and incorporated into a product.
The scope is divided into sprints
The Agile methodology implies dividing the scope into smaller iterations - sprints. It's recommended to schedule a call (meeting) after every sprint and discuss the team's results and achievements. You can set any duration of a sprint. Most often, it spans around two weeks.
Naturally, every sprint ends up with a meeting where all results of work are discussed. It also includes demos and reports. Sprint reports help conclude on what's done well and what needs improvement. It allows defining the next steps for the team to move and creating a plan for the next iteration.
Client feedback is essential, as it helps to shape the team's direction of work as well. Later, it's also recommended involving one more stakeholder - the end-user who can share his experience with a product, suggestions, and ideas. User feedback allows you to enhance a product and evolve it faster.
Release and Ongoing Delivery of Your Software Product
Congratulations! You are at the pre-release stage. It means that a product has already passed all the previous steps of implementation. Our team usually performs regression testing to make sure that software corresponds to all the acceptance criteria. Additional tests may take from several days to 1-2 weeks, depending on a product. At this point, the turkey product is ready for launch.
Here is an ultimate guide on building a software product from scratch and turning an initial concept into a full-fledged solution. At Saigon Technology, we hope that our knowledge and expertise will help you bring even the boldest idea to reality. Our software development team is happy to serve your big goals and contribute to the process of implementing innovative digital products.
Please feel free to contact us at email@example.com to discuss your product development.