For any developer, one of the most difficult things in the software development lifecycle is finding new ways to improve the process. Considering that by the time you get to the end of the software development process the last thing you want to do is think about doing it all over, developers often forget their best ideas for the next time around.

In the interest of fully optimizing your software development lifecycle, we have collected a few best practices and systems that are geared toward creating the best possible results. Since software development is always changing, each of these processes is built to facilitate that reality and use it to build further value.

However, before we get into the details of how that works, let’s take a moment to review the different parts of the software development lifecycle. While you may do things a little bit differently yourself, the same elements can be found in almost any development methodology.

Developing software can be tough, but with the right tools you can optimize your process. Learn how to do the same for your software development lifecycle!

Parts of the Software Development Lifecycle

As defined by QASymphony, the phases of the software development lifecycle are planning, tracking, coding, building, testing, deploying, and monitoring. The planning stage of the process is by far the most important and one of the best ways to stay ahead is by planning throughout the process for the next cycle of the software development. This way, you aren’t caught off guard when something comes up.

While you will likely have your own systems for the other phases of the process, it is always worth implementing an Agile approach whenever possible. Make sure that your team is using one of these frameworks that will allow them to work efficiently and with the end-user in mind. This, along with the following best practices, will help you put your best foot forward.

Best practices for staying ahead

When it comes to optimizing the software development lifecycle, the best way to stay ahead is to focus on the future. By this, we mean you should constantly be comparing your product with the existing industry, analyzing competitors, and reviewing new technologies to see how they can be integrated.

Far too often, developers are only focused on finding all the bugs and testing code until its flawless. While these are important aspects of the lifecycle, they often leave you with a great product that no one will use. Instead, be actively searching for the next opening or opportunity to fit your product into the existing landscape. With this in mind, let’s get into the optimization process.

1. Keep an eye on new technologies

The first optimizing technique we recommend is keeping an eye on new technologies. As we mentioned earlier, benchmarking your own progress using competition in the market is one of the best ways to stay ahead of the curve for a couple of reasons. First of all, you can make sure that your main competitors aren’t going after the same target market as you. Second, and more broadly, you will have a high-level idea of the marketplace you are about to enter.

Now, once the first software development lifecycle has been completed, some developers will focus more on adding features than assessing the competition. While there is time for looking inward at your own process, you need to make time to look at the market. Not only will this spur inspiration, but you never know what opportunities might be waiting for you.

2. Look inward for gaps in the process

After reviewing the marketplace and assessing your strategy, the next step is to check for gaps in your own process that can either be eliminated or filled with a new initiative. From the planning stage through to monitoring your software, there will always be ways to improve, yet another reason to keep an eye out for new technology.

Our advice here is to keep a running list of changes that you and your team hope to make in the next cycle. Think of this like a product backlog and organize them from most pertinent to least. This way, if you don’t have time to make all of the changes you want this time around, you can always add the less important fixes in next time.

3. Review latest UI / UX best practices

Along with looking for new ways to improve your processes, regularly reviewing UI / UX design best practices is another essential part of the software development lifecycle. In today’s marketplace, where user experience is a key selling point, these best practices can be the difference when it comes to selling your product.

However, as much as new UI and UX best practices can serve you well, the most important part of UX is the user. This means that you should be tracking and learning from the way your users interact with your platform, looking to glean new insights. Then, instead of just implementing them, test each of them to make sure they make sense. This leads us to our next optimization technique: quality assurance in every phase.

4. Include QA testing in each phase

Another one of the most important parts of the software development lifecycle is testing the quality and usability of your platform. Often, developers will have good intentions for QA testing, but won’t follow through due to time restricts or simply forgetting. Then they end up leaving it all until the end of the project, where problems have spiraled out of control that could have been handled much earlier.

We recommend making this a priority early on so everyone is on the same page and quality assurance testing can be done after each phase of the process. If necessary, make this part of your Scrum planning meeting or at least put it on the backlog as a task that must be completed before moving forward. By testing early, you will have less to do later on and potentially a quicker time to market.

5. Leverage any and all tools you can

Finally, the last step you can take for fully optimizing this process is to leverage all possible tools that you can in order to be successful. As we mentioned earlier, new technologies are always emerging and many have will have valuable use cases for your organization. By implementing them into your software development cycle, you can hopefully reduce costs and automate processes.

Depending on the type of software you are building there should be a decent number of tools available. For instance, mobile app development tools will typically have a different focus than the tools you would need for a custom software. Regardless, you should never shy away from an opportunity to increase your value.

Stay alert and repeat

As you begin to review your own software development lifecycle, we encourage you to stay alert and keep your attention on new areas where you and your team can improve. While this may take a few times through the process, repetition is necessary to achieve a fully optimized software.

Still have questions? Don’t hesitate to set up a free consultation with our staff to review your software development needs and see if we can help you achieve your vision.