Aug 21, 2019

The Agile Software Development Process – How We Do It

As a startup, the business and tech world may seem exciting, but don’t be fooled; it is equally as merciless as it is amazing. 

To get your tech startup going you have to deal with a lot of challenges and come through it unscathed. Otherwise, the failure to deal with those challenges may directly lead to mistakes and problems during the actual software development process- hampering your chances of scaling your development process. 

software development process for entrepreneurs
Source: dilbert.com

So what are these problems that you are going to face at the beginning of your startup? Let’s have a look.

Successful Software Development Project: A Three-Step Guide

As a tech startup, you need to follow these three steps mentioned below if you want to find out how to develop a software project step by step.

The Challenges

For a tech startup, the business world is full of challenges. Sometimes it turns almost impossible for a company to perform even the smallest of tasks without negative consequences. From not getting the right investors to time management, all these challenges demand to be handled in a proper way. 

A. Constant Changes In The Technological Scenario

The tech world is constantly evolving, and that’s why as a tech startup you will be facing constant changes in the technological scenario. There will be new software development frameworks and languages available on a regular basis, and not catching up with them swiftly might be deadly for your company. 

The tech industry changes faster than any other industry. And that is exactly why as a tech entrepreneur you might at times feel incredible pressure to move fast and stay ahead of your well-established competitors. 

However, how you move and change with the technical changes in the industry, the entire decision-making process of it is another challenge in itself. Don’t think that moving fast is going to be the optimal solution in this case, on the other hand, taking your sweet time to brood on the matter of technology adoption can be harmful as well. 

B. Not Getting The Right Investors

Investment is the most important thing in any kind of business, and that goes without saying. 

However, for a tech startup, it might be hard to find the right investors. There are various structures at play here, such as the pitch deck, finding the investor fit for your company, it all affects your business and its future. 

The first roadblock can be the pitch deck. A pitch is documentation you prepare to convince the investor that your project will be a beneficial thing for them to invest in. and more often than not, this is where things go wrong for a startup. The idea may seem great and futuristic to you, but you also have to check whether it is a valid idea or not.

The pitch should talk about how your idea and how it is going to solve real-life problems, and how you are going to handle the growing user base you are anticipating for your software solution. Without a concrete confirmation of these two things, no matter how futuristic your solution maybe, you won’t get any right investors. 

C. Cyber Risks

A tech startup is more prone to cyber risks than any other kind of startup. Since most of these startups operate on a B2B market, a cyber risk for your startup can turn out to be a risk to all your clients. 

Don’t think that the lack of cybersecurity is just one challenge. It will go on to create a hundred more problems and challenges during the software development process. The lack of security would put all the sensitive data you are handling right in the hands of hackers ready to exploit those data.

D. Time Management

A software development process includes a lot of phases. These phases include ideation, discovery phase, planning, and many others. It might be a little stressful to go through all these steps and still feel like you are no closer to your goal. 

This feeling can end up making you feel overwhelmed which end up affecting your time management for software development life cycle. If you fail to find a solution for time management in the early days of your startup, you might not recover from it ever. 

The Problems

The problems you face during the stages of software development process steps are the direct manifestation of the challenges faced during the beginning of your startup. 

A. Invalid Ideas

When you have an idea for a software, you have to be a hundred percent sure that the idea is valid. 

No matter how futuristic the idea may sound to you, ignoring to look at the real-life use case and validity of the idea is one of the biggest mistakes you are going to make during the Agile development process. On top of that, the lack of idea validation would definitely lead to an unsatisfied group of investors, who could pull out from the project when they realize that the idea is not actually scalable at all.

B. Not Understanding Project Requirements

Failing to understand the basic project requirement is one of the gravest mistakes you can make during the development process. The project requirement clarification is the basis of the software design process. 

software development process and mistakes

During this step, you might find that what the client says they want can actually be completely off the mark. The requirements the clients ask for can be completely different than what they actually need. This kind of misunderstanding can run you on a completely different path than you need to be on and cause disaster in the later stages of development.

C. The Sin Of Negligence: New Technologies And Frameworks

As mentioned before, the technological scenario is always changing and evolving. And to stay in the game, a tech startup has to keep on updating themselves and stay in the loop.

But, a lot of time, there is straight-up negligence among the tech startups, who master one technology, for example, say that they gain expertise in that one framework, and then don’t pay any attention to other emerging frameworks at all, considering them to be passing trends. 

While the passing trends and hitching your wagon to them can prove to be harmful to your own business, straight up ignoring them is not going to help you either. Not being aware of the new and emerging technologies in the market is going to prevent you from creating a better development process for all the software solutions. 

D. Cutting Discovery Phase Short

Among the developer community, there is a poor practice of cutting the discovery phase short. This is the first step you will take towards actually developing your software. And cutting it short is definitely going to get you into a ton of problems.

There are a number of consequences when you don’t give the discovery phase as much importance:

  • Cutting off discovery is going to pile up more requirements related problems. Without the entire image, a tech startup will keep adding features off the top of their head. And when it is finally time for development, the developer team would keep on discovering new requirements. Thus it will inflate the budget, and cause your time management plan to go for a waste.
  • Another consequence would be is to ultimately create software that is in no way close to what users wanted or the client needed. This, along with misunderstanding the project requirement has the power to turn the Software development process models to complete failure.

E. Choosing Not To Create An MVP

Like the domino effect, lack of project requirement understanding leads to cutting the discovery phase short. And cutting the discovery phase short leads to the problem by adding unnecessary features in your app. 

agile software development process and mvp
https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/mvp-precursor-successful-product-seems-yes-pratip-biswas/

When you go on adding features in your software based on your assumptions, you ruin the entire idea of creating an MVP.

Creating an MVP with just the required features is important to create scalable software. But when you have too many unnecessary features in your software, the MVP strategy doesn’t really work. On top of that, the clients might refuse to adopt software that has all the features but the ones they actually need to fulfill their needs. 

F. Poor UI/UX Designing

It is quite obvious that when you are building software, the UI/UX needs to be designed according to the user needs. 

But a lot of times, this does not happen. When the developers jump into the process of Agile software development without learning anything about the target user base, they end up creating UI/UX that is not at all at par with the user needs. A bad UI design leads to a frustrated client, and that leads to a loss of reputation in the market. 

The Solution Crafted by Unified Infotech’s Development Lab

Just like any other startup, I have faced some if not all the problems mentioned above. It would’ve been easy to give up, but there is no fun in that. And that’s why through trial and error, I have created an agile methodology which is followed by my team to develop software that is scalable and useful for the clients.

A. The Discovery Phase: Doing It Right

The discovery phase is where I feel developers should pay most attention to. It is an incredibly important step of the entire software development process and failing to complete it properly can cause a lot of problems later down the road. 

Being well aware of the discovery workshop, I make sure that any and every software development project at Unified Infotech starts with a proper discovery workshop for the software we are about to develop. When going through the discovery phase, our developers attempt to fulfill some important objectives. 

agile software development process - the discovery phase

The main objective of the discovery phase is to explore and understand the scope of the software solution. The first thing we start with is by understanding what goal the client wants to achieve with the software. From there we slowly work through market analysis, understanding target user base by creating user personas, etc.

Once we have worked through all that and gathered all the information, we extend the discovery phase. This makes sure that all the queries of our team are answered and there are no grey areas in the information. Any lack of clarity in such a situation can cost you later down the road. 

After making sure that the discovery phase has yielded us all the information and clarifications we need for the client, the valuable input of the clients and their likes and dislikes. Only then we move onto the next phase, and that is planning. 

B. Planning 

The planning process is the second step of our curated Agile software development. This is the step where we plan out the entire development process. Nothing is left to chance or assumptions as our team goes through the rigorous documentation process. This helps to determine the various aspects of the development process, from design to features. 

software development process - the planning

Based on the intel gathered during the discovery phase, we plan the detailed technical specifications. It includes the specific goals to be fulfilled, the features and other technical aspects of the software. 

Through planning, we not only aim to create design and branding guidelines, but we also aim to deliver the wireframes. And also the user story for the approval of the client. Once we are done with the final project planning, we begin with the design phase of our software development methodologies. 

C. Designing A Proper UX

The UI/UX design of any project is more important than anything save for development. Yet I have seen many software in the market that comes with less than functional UI design. When it comes to the UI/UX design of the software, there needs to be a proper mix between aesthetics and functionality, and that is the principle we follow during our development process. 

With the design phase, our aim is to create UI design and screens. And then getting them approved by the clients before moving forward. If you notice then you’ll see that we always include our clients throughout the entire process. Because this way, they would not only feel included, but we will have a solid idea about their changing ideas throughout the development process. And create software they would want to use. 

The designs created by our team are always responsive. To get the approval of the client we provide them with a clickable prototype through Invision Platform. With the prototype, the client can get the look and feel of how their software will be like before the development has begun. 

software development process and a successful case study
What we did for our Web development client

Our application of the UI best practices is quite evident through the UI/UX design of tech-enabled consultation platform. It is a marketplace that connects businesses with industry professionals for consultations. We applied the tried and tested UI/UX principle of simple and functional design and created a dashboard. We added the search functionality to make it easier for the users to navigate the platform. The result was an astounding

  • 89% increase in the new customer registration
  • 160% increase in average time spent on the job post page and
  • 78% increase in the number of post updates in a month 

D. Keeping Up With New Tech: The Development Process

All the previous steps lead to the development phase. This is the phase where all the information gathered during the discovery and planning phase comes to play.

The first objective of the development phase is to cater to the frontend, backend, web services, and API development integration. Besides setting up a 2-3 week frequency for sprints or milestones, our development phase also includes preparing a strategy for Agile methodology scrum, factor in the aspects of scalability and 3rd party integrations. During development, I feel that it is necessary to make sure that the code structure is clean and optimized. 

The use of latest technology is absolutely important during the development process, and we recognize that fact. That’s why we make sure that we are always up to date with the latest technological trend in the market.

agile software development process
Movie streaming app designed at Unified Infotech

This is why when we were presented with the opportunity to develop a streaming platform for short films, we integrated the latest technology of Artificial Intelligence to provide the users with movie recommendations based on their preferences. The addition of this latest technology gave the platform the boost it needed to beat its competitions. 

E. The Last Call: Testing And Maintenance

The testing is a phase that comes after the development phase. Just like the discovery phase, I have noticed that a lot of tech startups cut the testing phase short. This practice results in the launch of buggy software, which harms the reputation of the startup. 

From the very beginning, we have paid extra attention to the testing phase of a software development process. The objective of our software testing phase is simple enough. We make sure that each sprint is tested manually by our testers. This is where we apply regression testing after achieving every milestone to check on the functionality of the last milestone. All the bugs found during the testings are reported and added to the backlog. After these bugs are fixed, the demo app is sent to the clients for their approval. 

agile software development process for eCommerce project
How we revamped an eCommerce website and mobile app

With testing comes the matter of maintenance. While many startups don’t even think of maintenance, we make sure to provide the maintenance for our clients. We work to enhance the product with the Agile software development process. Plus constant up-gradation of the system depending on the new technical updates. 

One of our projects for a famous e-commerce business who sought to entirely revamp online shopping for men and women still go through regular updates and maintenance to keep the platform relevant and engaging for the users. 

The Bottomline

For a tech startup, it is a bit hard to make it big. And on top of that, if you get stuck with the wrong process of software development, it can take you even deeper under the abyss of issues that’ll ultimately become the doom of your company. 

And that is why it is important that you learn the right processes for software development. Following the leading companies in the tech-market is one way to do it, as they are experienced in handling projects and delivering successful products. Our Agile software development methodology is something we have been following since the beginning. And it has brought us a sufficient level of success in all our development projects. At the end of the day, our aim is to deliver our clients with software solutions they can trust. Thanks to our 360-degree scalable software development process

Have a software development idea? Or want to scale up your business? Talk to our experts!

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Pratip Biswas

Founder, Unified Infotech

I am an Entrepreneur and a Tech Geek with more than 1500 successful projects launched. I share my experience through my love for writing and help other entrepreneurs reach their business goals.