Identification of need
The sources of ideas for software products are plentiful. These ideas can come from market research including the demographics of potential new customers, existing customers, sales prospects who rejected the product, other internal software development staff, or a creative third party. Ideas for software products are usually first evaluated by marketing personnel for economic feasibility, for fit with existing channels distribution, for possible effects on existing product lines, required features, and for fit with the company’s marketing objectives. In a marketing evaluation phase, the cost and time assumptions become evaluated. A decision is reached early in the first phase as to whether, based on the more detailed information generated by the marketing and development staff, the project should be pursued further.
Planning is an objective of each and every activity, where we want to discover things that belong to the project. An important task in creating a software program is extracting the requirements or requirements analysis. Customers typically have an abstract idea of what they want as an end result but do not know what software should do. Skilled and experienced software engineers recognize incomplete, ambiguous, or even contradictory requirements at this point. Frequently demonstrating live code may help reduce the risk that the requirements are incorrect.
“Although much effort is put in the requirements phase to ensure that requirements are complete and consistent, rarely that is the case; leaving the software design phase as the most influential one when it comes to minimizing the effects of new or changing requirements. Requirements volatility is challenging because they impact future or ongoing development efforts.”
Once the general requirements are gathered from the client, an analysis of the scope of the development should be determined and clearly stated. This is often called a scope document.
Once the requirements are established, the design of the software can be established in a software design document. This involves a preliminary or high-level design of the main modules with an overall picture (such as a block diagram) of how the parts fit together. The language, operating system, and hardware components should all be known at this time. Then a detailed or low-level design is created, perhaps with prototyping as proof-of-concept or to hone requirements.
Implementation, testing and documenting
Implementation is the part of the process where software engineers actually program the code for the project.
Software testing is an integral and important phase of the software development process. This part of the process ensures that defects are recognized as soon as possible. In some processes, generally known as test-driven development, tests may be developed just before implementation and serve as a guide for the implementation’s correctness.
Documenting the internal design of software for the purpose of future maintenance and enhancement is done throughout development. This may also include the writing of an API, be it external or internal. The software engineering process chosen by the developing team will determine how much internal documentation (if any) is necessary. Plan-driven models (e.g., Waterfall) generally produce more documentation than Agile models.
Deployment and maintenance
Deployment starts directly after the code is appropriately tested, approved for release, and sold or otherwise distributed into a production environment. This may involve installation, customization (such as by setting parameters to the customer’s values), testing, and possibly an extended period of evaluation.
Software training and support is important, as software is only effective if it is used correctly.
Maintaining and enhancing software to cope with newly discovered faults or requirements can take substantial time and effort, as missed requirements may force a redesign of the software.