As you approach a custom software application project, you face a major question question: how do you go about understanding the scope and nature of the problems you’re trying to solve.
This is where working with software development partners who know how to collaborate effectively really pays off. Their area of expertise is developing a custom software application; yours is your business domain.
By working together, you have the joined expertise necessary to analyze both your business challenge and the full range of potential software solutions. When choosing a software partner, it’s important to choose a firm that treats you as part of the development team.
Once your team is in place, examine the problem that you’re seeking to solve collaboratively, focusing on the problem rather than potential solutions. You should gather information about your impetus for building a solution, identifying requirements that define the challenge so that those requirements may drive the solution. This helps you ensure that you don’t jump ahead of yourselves, accidentally neglecting important information or possibilities because you’ve already settled on an approach.
The steps above could take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. This can be a highly involved process, with your team collaboratively defining and proposing a solution to the problem. In some cases, you could find that you need to do some tests to understand what the best solution is: this might even involve creating a proof-of-concept, a minimalistic version of a piece of software that would allow you to test certain pieces of functionality.
Not every project will start with a proof-of-concept, but every project should involve a great deal of testing. This is part of the iterative development process that is fundamental to effective software development. Generally development should move in two-to-six week cycles, building out pieces of the project and testing those individual pieces to ensure that they work as effectively as possible once they are eventually combined.
This should be a highly involved process for the entire team. Look for your software development partners to seek continuous feedback: this is part of how you will make the software as effective as possible. In the course of the development process, requirements will likely evolve – this is natural. In fact, it’s often impossible to identify the full range of requirements without first developing and analyzing part of the solution.
The iterative software development process is ultimately a benefit. It is a refining technique that ensures your custom software application is working as it should to address your challenge, and helping you to realize the best possible result.