Software applications are managing almost every critical aspect of a business. They are transforming the business models, streamlining significant processes, and improving the way value is delivered to the customers. Hence, custom software-one that compliments the business and adheres to its requirements is a must-have.
For building custom software, your business can either opt for an in-house team or a competent outsourcing partner. While both the options for custom software development have their set of cons and pros, the benefits of outsourcing software development are overpowering.
However, outsourcing could be your best bet, only when you choose the right technology partner and know what to expect from them. Here is a step-by-step guide that will introduce you with the right process to get started with custom software development and get through it.
Step 1. Choosing the Right Technology Partner
A technology partner can do a lot for your business, other than offering technical help to build a software application. It can actually lead the way by understanding your business requirements or application idea and transform it into a viable product.
But, finding the right technology partner is a tough nut to crack. With custom software development services gaining so much traction, a number of mid-level ISVs can be found in every geographical zone, claiming to offer a complete custom software solution.
However, before you sign on the dotted line and outsource your software development project to a technology partner, make sure that you know what to expect from them. Here is what an ideal software development partner can do for you.
a. Understand your Business/ Software Idea through You
When you reach out to a technology company for custom software development, a Business Analyst is aligned to analyze the need/objective of your business. In this phase, it is important that your business reps share three aspects in detail:
- Business Idea, which could be as rough as a one-liner, a reference website or as detailed as a list of software features.
- Challenges that your business is confronting and how the solution is expected to overcome them.
- How the everyday business or its operations are expected to be affected by the software, for the good.
b. Requirement Elicitation before Defining Roadmap
The next step is Requirements Elicitation, a practice of researching and discovering the requirements of a system (software+domain) from users, customers, and other stakeholders. The objective is to define software workflow and roadmap with:
- Minimum Go-to-Market Time
- Maximum Return-on-Investment (ROI)
- Minimum Risk
Requirements Elicitation includes:
- Gathering stakeholders for brainstorming to produce numerous new ideas and to derive themes from them for further analysis.
- Building a focus group with domain experts (or pre-qualified stakeholders) to break down the business requirement to functional business solutions.
- Interviewing the business owners for the feature, flows and data need to be gathered for customers and non-customers. Identifying opportunities with various uptide market forces, and weaknesses in your concept to build a product with informed decisions that pivot the concept.
- Discussions on various flows to fulfill the business requirement and brainstorming to reach an optimum business workflow.
- Observing the competition and identifying key-features with high business value (must-haves)
- Building story maps and breaking it down into user stories.
- Building visible mockups to secure a visual reference and walkthrough of the idea.
c. Roadmap Development [Framing the Business Idea]
Once the requirements are gathered and understood, the next step is structuring product roadmap. This includes:
- Developing your product roadmap and innovation strategy altogether.
- Building and prioritize roadmap with potentially shippable product increment with continuous integration and continuous deployment for the live audience.
- Organizing high business value proposition features and cap it with cost/time evaluation index.
“25% of tech people said prioritization is the biggest software development challenge at startups.” | State of Software Development Report (Click to Tweet)
This entire cycle, where the business analysts discover the requirements & frame it into a comprehensive solution is defined into a Requirement Understanding Document (RUD).
Step 2: Choosing the Right Technology Stack
Keeping the product scalability & complexity in mind, future scope, cost, feature-set, third-party integrations, a technology stack for custom software development can be defined. Other aspects that can be considered while choosing a technology stack for the software can include:
- Developer community
- Fault tolerance
- Evolution trends
- Documents and specifications
- Cost of maintenance and support
- Load requirements
- Cross-platform coverage
Step 3: Analyzing Cost and Timelines for Product Engineering
On the basis of the technology stack, feature-set, and future scope of the product, an estimate for cost and timeline for product development can be defined. In this step, your technology partner can also offer help in analyzing the cost and delivery timelines, various breakpoints to release a product increment, etc.
For the feasibility study of an idea and to mitigate the risks involved in bringing the entire product to the market in-a-go, we recommend our customers to start with Discover & Frame (D&F) workshop. D&F is an expert consultation program, wherein a business analyst outlines the entire scope, user flow, timeline and cost of developing a market fit product.
Step 4: Product Development and Deployment
Next is the phase where your product is developed, tested, and deployed for users. Herein, choosing the right project management methodology lay down the basis for a balanced, on-time delivery of the project and further releases.
Whether a mobile app, web application, or a desktop application, Agile methodology and its frameworks for project management are known to bring adaptability and visibility to the development cycle, thereby reducing risks in the project, significantly.
Despite Agile being an iterative approach to development, it complements outsourcing. With latest tools available for communication, it is possible to make custom software development outsourcing work with Agile methodology. Here is a quick guide on how.
Tips for Attaining an Effective Development Cycle:
- For continuous deployment, development accompanied with CI/CD and DevOps can be helpful in the long run.
- Go-to-market with the beta release of the product and attain maximum feedback [positive and negatives].
- Build an easy hypothesis, test (experiment with live public), check results with the market, learn and improve with feedback.
Step 5: Maintenance, Competition, User Analysis
The process of building software never ends with deployment. Once the product is available in the market for its target users, it requires a thorough analysis of how it works and is received by users.
Analyzing technical and functional gaps in software functionality is important. This is usually done with analytics tools. Along with application performance, analytics tools enable stakeholders to understand how the app is received by users so that further enhancements, in terms of UI/UX or features can be done.
Keeping a watch on competition and updating the software accordingly for improved user experience is crucial. Upgrading the software with technical advances, features, or new UI/UX can help to stay ahead in the competitive landscape.
Planning to Outsource Custom Software Development?
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