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How to Create an Optimized Software Development Workflow

A software development workflow is a fundamental component of any software development project. It equally affects team performance, quality of the final product, and project development timeline. Once well-optimized it can bring significant benefits to the product owners – minimize development expenses, effectively distribute resources as well as improve team productivity, and much more. Therefore, it’s essential to continuously track and improve software development workflow during the product development process.

In this article, we’ll have a look at the components of a solid software development workflow and explain how to optimize it effectively.

What Is a Workflow in Software Development?

A workflow links together the software development stages, also known as Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC), and allows software developers to build their applications more effectively.

Being a looped process, a software development workflow determines the actions that should be taken at each stage and provides forward-looking guidance for further product development steps. This way, with a well-established workflow a software development team can:

  • See a bigger picture of the project
  • Clearly determine each team member’s responsibilities
  • Understand how their work contributes to the entire project
  • Foresee any project bottlenecks
  • Effectively prevent and overcome any challenges that may appear during app development
  • More evenly spread the resources
  • Improve their performance on the current project and further app-building projects.

Elements of a Software Development Workflow

There are no firmly set stages in a software development workflow. The number of elements depends on classification and usually varies from 5 to 7. We’ll have a look at the software development workflow that includes 5 stages. It doesn’t mean that a 7-stage development workflow is better than the one that has 5 elements. A 5-stage workflow offers everything software developers need to build high-quality software at the minimum resources and time.

Planning and Analysis

Planning and analysis is the first step in the SDLC loop. It determines many project parameters that will influence further software development. At this stage, the software development team defines the business and technical project requirements.

  • Product requirements – the software development team defines the scope of the product, which features, functionalities, and services should be included in the developed application, its architecture, tech stack, and more.
  • Business requirements involve client requirements for the developed product, its objectives and aims, any certain branding guidelines the app should be aligned with, and more.
  • Project requirements include determining software development life cycle (SDLC) roles in the team, project scheduling, resource allocation, possible risks and problems, and ways to prevent them.

This stage involves much communication between business analysts, project managers, stakeholders, and the development team. The outcome of the Planning and Analysis stage should be elaborated project documentation and a well-defined project plan.

Planning and Analysis

The project documentation can include specifications, user stories, user scenarios, visual application design, and more. Meanwhile, the project plan should include a description of the development process, timelines and milestones, outcomes and deliverables.

UI/UX Design

During this phase, UI/UX designers create the visual part of the requested solution. For this, they build wireframes and prototypes to test the application for its usability and implement any changes if needed. Often, UI/UX developers have to adjust the application interfaces to the guidelines provided by their client so that the final solution matches the client’s company style.

The UI/UX stage involves much experimenting and changes. A good UI/UX design eliminates any user difficulties, making user interfaces intuitive and simple to navigate, and is always adapted to the user requirements.

Development and Coding

At this stage, software developers get down to the product-building process. The steps software developers take during the development process are largely determined by the chosen methodology.

There are a number of development methodologies, though the most popular are Waterfall and Agile. The Waterfall is commonly chosen for creating niche-specific software that involves unchangeable, clear project requirements such as medical software, aviation, and other niches that require much precision. Agile is more popular for building software for various business niches when end-user requirements heavily influence the development process. This way, with Agile, software developers can quickly adjust to new demands and add or remove certain features, quickly change the final product elements, and more.

Testing

The testing phase largely depends on the methodology used. In Agile, testing and code reviewing phases happen throughout the building process with each new development iteration. The Waterfall method involves the testing phase after the software is built. Nevertheless, the Quality Assurance (QA) team has to perform the final product testing before releasing it to the market.

Often, companies release the final product to a small group of beta testers. Beta testers are the end-users of the product who try the product first and report to the company if