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Software Development Process: Comprehensive Guide

Welcome to our comprehensive guide to the software development process – your essential resource for understanding the world of software development.

In this guide, we explore each stage of the software development lifecycle, unpack the pros and cons of custom software versus off-the-shelf solutions, and introduce cutting-edge alternatives like Openkoda for a faster and more cost-effective software development process.

Whether you’re a seasoned developer or a business executive looking for technical insights for your next project, this guide is designed to provide you with valuable insights and practical knowledge. Dive in and discover the keys to successful software development in today’s fast-paced digital world!

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What is software development process?

The software development process is a structured approach to creating and maintaining software applications.

It typically involves several software development stages: identifying requirements, planning and designing the structure and features of the software, writing and coding the software, testing the software to ensure that it works correctly and meets the intended requirements, and finally, deploying the software for use.

create software

You can say that the software development process is like building a house but in the digital world – each phase of the software development process corresponds with a key part of the construction process.

No wonder why software developers are often called architects.

First, you need to have a clear plan or idea, just like an architect’s blueprint for a house. This plan includes what the software will do and who will use it.

Then, developers, who are like the construction workers for software, start writing code, which is like the building blocks for the software.

After the software is built, it’s tested to make sure everything works correctly, similar to checking all the parts of a newly built house. If any problems are found, they fix them.

This whole process is essential in the business world because it leads to the creation of useful tools and applications that help companies and individuals do their work more efficiently and effectively.

What is a software development lifecycle (SDLC)?

A software development lifecycle (SDLC) is a series of steps that guide the creation of software in a systematic and efficient manner. It’s a roadmap for developing software while ensuring quality and efficiency in the process.

This cycle is critical in the business world because it helps ensure that the software developed is not only effective, but also remains relevant and useful over time.

What are the steps of the development process for a software project?

The Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) for a software project typically unfolds in several key steps.

It begins with the requirements analysis phase, where the team gathers and analyzes what the software must do, based on user or business needs. Next is design, where these requirements are translated into a blueprint. This blueprint outlines how the software will look and function.

The third step is implementation, where developers write the code to build the software according to the design. The software then goes through testing, where it is rigorously checked for bugs and problems. If it passes the tests, it enters the deployment phase, where it is released for use.

The final step is maintenance, which involves regular updates and fixes to ensure that the software continues to work effectively and securely.

This cycle is iterative, meaning that it can circle back to earlier stages as new requirements arise or problems are discovered, ensuring continuous improvement of the software project.

rapid development process

The importance of well-defined software development processes

Having well-defined software development processes is critical to the success of custom development projects and ensuring a smooth workflow.

These processes act as a roadmap that guides the team through each stage of development, from initial planning to final deployment. They ensure that every aspect of the software is carefully thought out, designed, and tested, minimizing the risk of errors and ensuring that the final product meets the specific needs for which it was designed.

A clear process also helps to manage the project schedule and budget more effectively by allowing for better planning and resource allocation. It fosters better communication and collaboration within the team, as everyone understands their roles and the sequence of tasks.

Ultimately, well-defined software development processes result in higher quality software, improved customer satisfaction, and a more efficient and productive development team.

[Read also: The Complete Guide to Software Outsourcing: How to Make it Work for Your Business]

Six key stages of the software development process

As we delve into the heart of software development, we’ll explore the eight key stages that form the backbone of any successful software development process.

From initial planning to final deployment, each stage plays a critical role in transforming a concept into a working software product during the entire development cycle.

software development life cycle

Requirements analysis and planning

testing and risk assessment project manager

This first phase of the product development life cycle is all about understanding what the software needs to do.

It begins with a deep dive into understanding the specific needs and expectations of the business and its users. This involves interacting with stakeholders to gather detailed requirements, which may include functional, technical, and operational needs. It’s not just about what the software should do, but how it should perform in different scenarios.

During this phase, a critical decision is made regarding the selection of a software development methodology and approach.

This choice significantly influences how the project will be executed. The chosen methodology sets the framework for how the team will work, including aspects such as collaboration, development stages, and how changes will be handled. Choosing the right methodology is critical because it aligns with the project’s goals, team dynamics, and overall business strategy.

What software development methodologies can software development teams choose from?

There are 8 popular options. We will look at some of them in more detail later in this article:

  • Agile methodologies
  • Scrum approach
  • Waterfall software development methodology
  • Lean system development methodology
  • Kanban approach
  • DevOps
  • Extreme Programming (XP)
  • Rapid Application Development (RAD)

Design and Prototyping

software development methodology framework

The second phase is where the conceptual ideas and requirements take shape.

In this phase, the development team creates a detailed software architecture that outlines the technical specifications, data flows, user interface designs, and system functionalities. It’s a critical phase where strategic decisions are made about the overall structure and behavior of the software.

During this stage, the development team need to pick their tech stack and the supporting technologies like Java for the core and Kafka, Hazelcast and Oracle Coherence for IMDG data processing.

Two important components often included in the design phase are the Proof of Concept (POC) and the Minimum Viable Product (MVP).

A POC is a small exercise to test a particular concept or theory that can be achieved in the software development process. It is essentially a prototype developed by software engineers to demonstrate the feasibility of certain aspects of the project. Building a POC is critical because it helps validate technical assumptions, understand potential challenges, and evaluate the feasibility of the idea before investing significant time and resources.

An MVP, on the other hand, is a version of the software with enough functionality to be used by early customers, who can then provide feedback for future product development. It’s a strategy for quickly and quantitatively testing a product or feature in the marketplace. The MVP is critical to the design phase because it focuses on core functionality and helps the team understand what’s most important to users.

Incorporating a POC and MVP into the design phase is fundamental to reducing risk, optimizing resources, and ensuring that the software will be viable and valuable in the marketplace. These elements guide the development process to create a product that is not only technically sound, but also market-ready and user-centric.

Software Development

high quality software

Often considered the backbone of the software development process, coding is where developers bring the design to life by writing the actual program.

In this phase, developers translate the design blueprints into working software by writing code. This phase is critical because it involves turning the planned concept into a tangible product.

Effective communication with project stakeholders during this phase is key to ensuring that the software meets business goals and user expectations.

Regular interaction with clients and stakeholders allows for immediate feedback and adjustments, which is essential to aligning the project with the client’s vision.

Adopting a methodology that emphasizes working in short development sprints and iterative approach, such as Agile development, can be particularly effective. These sprints are typically one to four weeks long and involve daily communication between the development team and the client.

This approach allows for the rapid production of small, incremental development of the software product.

It ensures that the project is continuously moving in the right direction and that any deviations or problems with project management can be addressed quickly. This frequent collaboration is critical to refining the software, adapting to changing requirements, and ensuring that the final product truly meets the needs of the users.

The key takeaway is that in software development projects, there are three key values that must be the driving force of the entire process:

  • Innovation,
  • Collaboration,
  • Agility.

QA and Testing

software developer

Testing is all about quality assurance.

In this development phase, the software undergoes rigorous testing to identify and fix any bugs, errors, or problems.

The importance of software testing phase lies in its ability to verify that the software meets all requirements and performs as expected under various conditions.

It’s a key step in delivering high-quality software products that are reliable, user-friendly, and efficient. Testing not only helps improve software performance, but also increases user confidence and satisfaction by ensuring a smooth, error-free experience.

The main types of software testing include:

  • Unit Testing: Checks individual components or pieces of code for proper operation.
  • Performance Testing: Assesses the speed, responsiveness, and stability of the software under a particular workload ensuring the delivery of fast and efficient software.
  • Integration Testing: Ensures that different modules or services used by the application work well together.
  • Security Testing: This is crucial for identifying vulnerabilities in the software to prevent potential attacks or breaches, ensuring the protection of user data and the integrity of the software.
  • System Testing: Tests the complete and fully integrated software product to verify that it meets all specified requirements.
  • Usability Testing: Evaluates how user-friendly and intuitive the software interface is for end-users.

Implementation and Deployment

software projects

Implementation and deployment is the stage where the software begins to take shape in the real world.

Think of it as the grand opening of a digital product.

Implementation involves integrating the software into the user’s environment, which may include setting it up on servers, configuring it for use, and sometimes migrating data from old systems to the new.

Deployment, on the other hand, is the process of actually making the software available to users. This could mean making it available for download on public platforms, enabling it for online access, or distributing it internally within an organization.

This phase is critical because it’s the first time the software is used in a real-world environment, which can reveal problems that weren’t encountered in the test environment. It’s also a phase where thorough planning is critical to ensure a smooth transition for users with minimal disruption to their operations.

Maintenance and updates

software engineering

After the software is deployed, it enters the maintenance phase.

This involves regularly monitoring the software for problems, fixing bugs, and making necessary changes to improve performance or add new features.

Constant updates are essential during this phase, as they not only improve the software but also protect it from security vulnerabilities.

Regular updates help keep the software compatible with evolving technologies and changing user needs, preventing it from becoming outdated or obsolete. This is especially important to avoid the challenges of dealing with legacy software, which can be costly and inefficient to maintain.

Proper technical documentation at this stage is also critical. It provides a clear record of changes, updates, and the current state of the software, making future maintenance and enhancements easier and more efficient. This documentation is a valuable resource for any new team members or developers who may work on the software later.

[Read also: Application Modernization Strategy: Your Ultimate Guide]

How to speed up the software development process

While custom software development offers tailored solutions that perfectly fit a company’s unique needs, it’s no secret that this approach can be a costly and lengthy endeavor.

The significant investment of time and resources required for custom development often limits its accessibility, making it a significant burden for many companies, especially smaller ones or those with limited budgets.

This challenge is leading organizations to seek alternative methods that maintain the benefits of custom software while mitigating the time and cost drawbacks.

One such alternative is the use of open source low-code platforms such as Openkoda.

software development approach

These platforms represent a sea change in the custom software development landscape. Openkoda, for example, enables rapid development of enterprise software applications by simplifying the programming process.

Low-code platforms provide pre-built modules and easy-to-use interfaces that enable faster and more efficient development of even complex applications.

This approach significantly reduces the amount of coding required, lowering both the skill barrier and the time investment. As a result, companies can develop custom software solutions much more quickly and cost-effectively, opening the door to custom software for a wider range of businesses.

Integrating platforms like Openkoda into the software development process is therefore a highly effective strategy for companies that want to enjoy the benefits of custom software without the traditional drawbacks of high costs and long development times.

By harnessing the power of low-code platforms, companies can accelerate their software development timelines, reduce costs, and still enjoy the benefits of software that is precisely tailored to their needs.

If you want to know more about how you can leverage the power of Openkoda platform in developing your own custom software applications, contact us! We can’t wait to hear more details about your project!

Top software development methodologies worth knowing

In this section, we’ll take a closer look at the top software development methodologies that have shaped modern software development, from Agile to DevOps.

Understanding these methodologies is key to efficiently managing your development projects and adapting to the dynamic demands of the tech world.

right software development process

Waterfall software development process

The oldest of all methodologies, the waterfall model is a linear and sequential approach to software development, where each phase must be completed before the next one begins.

It’s like a step-by-step process where you can’t go back to a previous step without starting over.

This method begins with a thorough planning and requirements-gathering phase, followed by design, implementation, testing, deployment, and maintenance.

The waterfall model is straightforward and easy to understand, making it suitable for smaller projects with well-defined requirements. However, it lacks flexibility for changes once the project is underway, which can be a drawback in dynamic environments.

[Read also: Comprehensive Guide to Software Development Agreement [+Template]]

Rapid application development

RAD is a type of software development methodology that emphasizes rapid and iterative development.

It focuses on speed and flexibility, with less emphasis on detailed planning at the beginning of the project. In RAD, prototypes or usable segments of software are built quickly and continually improved through user feedback, making it a user-centered approach.

Spiral software development process

The Spiral model combines elements of both design and prototyping-in-stages.

It’s like a series of iterative cycles or ‘spirals’, where each one involves planning, risk assessment, engineering, and evaluation. This approach allows for multiple rounds of refinement, making it suitable for large, complex, and high-risk projects.

Agile software development methodology

Agile is a highly iterative and incremental approach to software development. It emphasizes collaboration, customer feedback, and small, rapid releases.

Agile model breaks the project into small chunks, with minimal planning, and emphasizes adaptability to change. This methodology is particularly effective in environments where requirements are expected to evolve or are not fully known at the start of the project.

Agile encourages a flexible, team-based approach where developers and business stakeholders work closely together throughout the project.

risk assessment development software code

Extreme Programming (XP)

Extreme Programming is an Agile framework that aims to produce higher quality software and improve the quality of life for the development team.

XP emphasizes customer satisfaction and involves frequent “releases” in short development cycles, which improves productivity and introduces checkpoints where new customer requirements can be adopted.


DevOps is not just a methodology but a culture or set of practices that emphasizes collaboration and communication between software developers and IT professionals.

The goal of DevOps is to automate and streamline the software development and infrastructure management processes.

Types of software development approaches

Custom software development vs off-the-shelf software represent two different approaches to meeting software needs in a business context, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.

only the core functionality

Custom software development

Custom software development stands out as a highly advantageous option for companies seeking a precise solution tailored to their unique needs and processes.

It offers an unparalleled level of customization, allowing for software that is closely aligned with a company’s specific workflows, creating a perfect synergy with business operations.

This customized approach not only ensures efficiency and user satisfaction, but also provides the flexibility to adapt and scale the software as the business evolves – a critical aspect in today’s dynamic market environment.

While the initial investment in time, resources and money for custom software may be higher, this is offset by the significant long-term benefits of having a solution that fits the business perfectly.

Off-the-shelf software

While off-the-shelf software may seem cost-effective and convenient for immediate deployment, it often results in compromises in functionality and efficiency.

These generic solutions may include unnecessary features or lack critical business-specific functionality, resulting in a less-than-optimal fit.

Relying on outside vendors for updates and support can also be a challenge, especially if the product is discontinued or doesn’t evolve with the company’s changing needs.


As we wrap up our journey through the software development process, we hope you’ve gained a deeper understanding of the various stages, methodologies, and innovative approaches in software development.

From the meticulous planning in the initial stages to the agility offered by Agile methodologies, and the cutting-edge solutions like Openkoda, this guide aims to empower you with the knowledge to navigate the complexities of software development.

We are Stratoflow, a custom software development company. We firmly believe that software craftsmanship, collaboration and effective communication is key in delivering complex software projects. This allows us to build advanced high-performance Java applications capable of processing vast amounts of data in a short time. We also provide our clients with an option to outsource and hire Java developers to extend their teams with experienced professionals. As a result, our Java software development services contribute to our clients’ business growth. We specialize in travel software, ecommerce software, and fintech software development. In addition, we are taking low-code to a new level with our Open-Source Low-Code Platform.

Building a new application or extending your development team?

🚀 We're here to assist you in accelerating and scaling your business. Send us your inquiry, and we'll schedule a free estimation call.

Estimate your project


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