How to Create Software: Key Tasks, Roles, Cost Factors

How to Develop Software - ScienceSoft

Delivering software development services since 1989 and practicing iterative Agile software delivery since 2007, ScienceSoft helps efficiently plan and build software products.

How to develop your own software product: Summary

A development process for new software includes software ideation, planning, designing architecture, UX and UI, coding, testing, and deployment. When creating the lean working version (MVP) first, this process can take just 2-6 months.

A software development project team requires a project manager, a business analyst, UX and UI designers, front-end and back-end developers, QA and DevOps engineers. Depending on the project’s nature, additional talents can be required, e.g., data scientists, 3D designers.

Software Development Process Step by Step

Below we walk you through the full set of steps to create a software product. Some of the tasks can be skipped when you choose to develop an MVP. Also, different development methodologies (Scrum, Kanban, Waterfall, V-model, etc.) handle these tasks differently – they can be performed iteratively in parallel, or linearly.

Step 1. Product idea organization

Duration: 3 days – 3 months.

  • Generating a product idea.
  • Identifying the target audience, understanding and analyzing their wants and needs.
  • Analysis of competiting software products (analysis of competitor product features, pricing & monetization models, customer feedback, etc).
  • Creation of a software product concept.
  • Defining customer acquisition, conversion, and retention strategies.
  • Defining the software monetization model.

Step 2. Software planning

Duration: 2 weeks – 1 month.

  • Defining and prioritizing detailed software features.
  • Creating a software requirements specification.
  • High-level software design:
    • App type/types (mobile, web, desktop).
    • Describing a list of software modules to build and specifying what functionality area each module covers and how the modules should interact.
  • Describing data and process flows between the target software and other existing software, planning integrations.
  • Creating the software development project roadmap with major milestones.
  • Drawing up a business case: conducting cost-benefit analysis, calculating NVP, ROI.

Note: We recommend starting with planning and delivering an MVP and then proceeding with rapid, incremental software evolution based on the frequent feedback from product managers, users, etc.

Step 3. UX design

Duration: 1 week – 1 month.

  • Conducting UX research to understand the mental models of the target audience.
  • Describing how a user will interact with the software product (e.g., what system response the user gets upon different actions).
  • Creating wireframes that demonstrate basic functionality and content layout on each screen.
  • Combining wireframes into a dynamic UX prototype of the application.
  • Performing the prototype user testing.

Step 4. UI design

Duration: 1 week – 1 month.

  • Deciding on the appearance of user-facing software parts (choosing a color scheme, icons for the buttons, menus, tabs and screen layouts of the application’s GUI).

  • Transforming software prototypes into full-color graphic interface mockups.

  • Creating a UI kit for the quick development of user interfaces.

Note 1: It’s reasonable to invest in the unique UI design only if the design is a competitive software product advantage. Otherwise, use default themes and focus on software functionality.

Note 2: Ensure user interface consistency in different browsers, mobile versions on different screen sizes, and mobile applications on different operating systems.

Step 5. Software Architecture Design

Duration: ~ 2 weeks.

  • Detailed description of how functional modules of future software should work at the code level.
  • Detailed database design.
  • Defining integration approaches (point-to-point, middleware-based, iPaaS, etc.) between the different functionality modules.
  • Choosing the technology stack for the future software back end and front end.

Step 6. Coding

Duration: 2-6 months to deliver the first working version.

  • Establishing development and delivery automation environments (CI/CD, container orchestration, etc.).
  • Writing server-side code and APIs.
  • Turning static user interface mockups provided by UI designers into the fully functional GUI.
  • Conducting unit testing and static code analysis (by developers).

How to build software faster and at a lower cost?

Details
  • Choose the technology platform (it will include a programming language and frameworks, architecture patterns, APIs, and more) based on a careful preliminary analysis of options. The development speed may differ 2 – 20 times.
  • Use cloud services (messaging services, analytics and AI services, image processing services, etc.) by well-established cloud providers, e.g., Azure and AWS.
  • Use trusted open-source tools and APIs.

Step 7. Testing

Duration: ~30% of the project time (depends heavily on software complexity, security and compliance requirements, the level of test automation, and more).

  • Creating a test plan with a testing scope, test types addressing all functional and non-functional software requirements, reporting procedures, etc.
  • Creating test cases and checklists.
  • Writing and running automated test scripts (API and UI tests).
  • Carrying out functionality, performance, security, integration testing.
  • Fixing bugs detected by testing.

Step 8. Deployment and further iterations

  • Deploying software in the production environment.
  • (often for B2B products) On-site user training sessions.
  • Fixing bugs that users discover.
  • Planning improvements and new features to be added based on user feedback, product manager input, market trends, marketing strategy, etc.

Note 1: In iterative development models, all the described tasks will be cycled in 2-week – 6-month releases of new functionality.

Note 2: Organizing exceptional user support is vital for B2B startups. Get ready to anticipate customer challenges and questions regarding software setup and operations, proactively provide solutions to potential issues, show how users can achieve max value while using your product.

Project Manager

  • Creating a project plan with milestones and deliverables.
  • Keeping the project on schedule and within the scope and budget.
  • Facilitating and coordinating communication between all team members.
  • Creating a risk management plan.

Business Analyst

  • Eliciting wants and needs of future software users.
  • Translating user wants and needs into functional and non-functional software requirements.

UX designer (focuses on usability)

  • Performing UX research.
  • Designing the interactions users will have with a software product.
  • Designing the information architecture.
  • Conducting usability testing.

UI designer (focuses on aesthetics)

  • Creating the style of user-facing software interfaces.
  • Creating a UI kit for user interface development.

Back-end developer

  • Writing back-end code and APIs.
  • Performing unit tests.

Front-end developer

  • Creating a software representation level: everything that the user sees on the screen.

Quality assurance engineer

  • Designing a test strategy and plan.
  • Selecting test tools.
  • Designing, developing, and maintaining tests.
  • Implementing, documenting, and improving the testing process.
  • Tracking test results, finding and reporting bugs.

DevOps engineer

  • Managing software servers.
  • Incorporating an infrastructure-as-code approach.
  • Software containerization and container orchestration.
  • Establishing CI/CD pipelines for automated deployment.
  • Selecting and configuring tools to execute daily software monitoring.

The entire software development process is in-house

Pros:

  • Direct supervision over the development process and team productivity.

Cons:

  • High costs.
  • Prolonged software development project start.
  • All hiring and managerial efforts are on your side.

A mix of an in-house team and outsourced consultancy

Pros:

  • Outsourced consultancy provides expert project guidance, mentors through the most challenging activities, and closes up the gaps in specific tech skills.
  • In-house team can perform specific tailored, more interesting tasks to grow their expertise in a certain field (developing unique algorithms, improving software performance), while outsourced developers handle routine activities.
  • Tasks that require exceptional security can be performed within the in-house network and infrastructure.

Cons:

  • Risks related to vendor selection.
  • It requires time and experience to establish smooth collaboration and communication between the in-house and consultancy teams.
  • Project team coordination, the concerns about quick and quality delivery, risk management are partially/totally on your side.

Full software development is outsourced

Pros:

  • Established software design and development processes, software development project management.
  • A vendor assumes full responsibility for the team arrangement and management, quality of the project deliverables and related risk management.

Cons:

  • High vendor risks.

Software product MVP development

Full-scale software product development from scratch

Major cost factors:

  • Application type (web, mobile, desktop); number of platforms and OS versions supported.
  • The number and complexity of application features.
  • The number of user roles.
  • The complexity of the application logic and workflows.
  • The number and complexity of integrations with third-party systems.
  • Application availability, performance, security, latent capacity and scalability requirements.
  • Frequency of application updates and improvements.
  • Special features required (e.g.,ML-based).
  • Uniqueness and complexity of the UI design.

How Much Will Your Software Dev Cost?

ScienceSoft can help you estimate software development project costs and advise on the ways to optimize your software product development initiative.

Technologies we recommend

ScienceSoft recommends considering cloud development and infrastructure services to deliver a software product. Quality managed services, the pay-as-you-go model, and multiple ready-to-use components (messaging, service discovery, AI, AR/VR, IoT, data science, and more) offered by cloud providers can help create software faster and optimize its cost .

Microsoft Azure

Description

Leader in Gartner’s Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure and Platform Services.

  • 200+ services (compute, containers, CI/CD, integration, migration, databases, IoT, AI, etc.).
  • 60+ availability zones.
  • Storage: Azure Blob, Azure Files, Azure Tables, Azure Queue Storage Azure Disk Storage.
  • ETL: Azure Data Factory, Azure HDInsight.
  • Analytics: Azure Databricks, Azure Stream Analytics, Azure Data Factory Analytics, Azure Data Lake Analytics, etc.
  • Machine learning: Azure Machine Learning.
  • Compliance with CIS Benchmarks; ISO 20000-1:2011, 22301, 27001, 27017, 27018; SOC; WCAG; HIPAA; HITRUST; FERPA; FDA CFR Title 21 Part 11; FFIEC; GxP; SEC 17a-4; SOX; CCPA.
  • Smallest instance offered: vCPU – 2, RAM – 8 GB, Price - $70 per month.
  • Largest instance offered: vCPU – 128, RAM – 8.89 TB, Price - $6.79 per hour.
  • Azure free account allows free access to popular Azure services (including Azure Virtual Machines, Azure SQL Database) for 12 months and access to more than 25 Azure services that are always free (including Azure App Services, Azure DevOps, Azure Machine Learning).

AWS

Description

Leader in Gartner’s Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure and Platform Services for 9 consecutive years.

  • 175+ services (storage, databases, containers, serverless computing, application integration, migration, application management, ML, AR & VR, IoT, etc.).
  • 77 availability zones.
  • Storage: Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3), Amazon Elastic File System, Amazon Elastic Block Store.
  • Analytics: Amazon Redshift, Amazon Kinesis Data Analytics, Amazon Elasticsearch Service, etc.
  • Machine learning: Amazon SageMaker (building, training and deploying machine learning models).
  • AI services: Amazon Personalize (for personalized recommendations), Amazon Lookout for Metrics (business metrics anomaly detection), Amazon Forecast (for demand forecasting), Amazon Fraud Detector, Amazon Rekognition (for image and video analysis), Amazon Lex (for bots and virtual agents), Amazon Transcribe (automatic speech recognition), Amazon Polly (turning text into speech to give your applications a voice).
  • Compliance with CSA; ISO 9001, 27001, 27017, 27018; PCI DSS Level 1; SOC 1, 2, 3; FERPA; GxP; HIPAA; HITRUST CSF; MPAA; PIPEDA; SEC Rule 17a-4(f), etc.
  • Smallest instance offered: vCPUs – 2, RAM – 8 GB, Price - $69 per month.
  • Largest instance offered: vCPU – 128, RAM – 3.84 TB, Price - $ 3.97 per hour.
  • Some AWS services include a free tier that offers enough capacity to validate an MVP.

Power BI Embedded

Description

Power BI is a leader in Gartner’s Quadrant for Analytics and Business Intelligence Platforms. With Power BI Embedded, you can:

  • Easily embed reports and dashboards into an application.
  • Start extend and customize analytics with an extensive library of data connectors, fully documented APIs and SDKs.

Pricing

With Azure nodes:

Pay-as-you-go pricing model: from $1.0081/hour to $32.2506/hour depending on the node type chosen and the number of nodes deployed.

Software Development Services by ScienceSoft

In software product development since 1989, ScienceSoft knows well how to plan and deliver effective, selling software products. Our service offering includes:

Software development consulting

Our consultants:

  • Carry out idea conceptualization and provide competition analysis.
  • Define holistic software product (and/or its MVP) functionality.
  • Deliver PoC (if required), determine MVP/software tech stack and architecture.
  • Advise on advanced techs (AI, machine learning, big data, AR/VR, etc.).
  • Plan application security and compliance (HIPAA, FDA, GLBA, PCI DSS, etc.).
  • Devise a DevOps strategy.
  • Deliver a detailed MVP/software implementation roadmap.
  • Handle implementation supervision: сommunication with vendors, RFP preparation, continuous project management and quality control.

End-to-end software development

Our team takes over:

  • Product idea conceptualization and feature management.
  • Software UX and UI design.
  • MVP/software development in compliance with industry standards and regulations (GDPR, HIPAA, PCI DSS, FIPS, COPPA, etc.).
  • Testing and QA.
  • Integrations with third-party systems.
  • MVP/software launch and support.

About ScienceSoft

A 32-year provider of software development services headquartered in the US, ScienceSoft helps both startups and mature software product companies worldwide envision competitive and selling software products, cost-efficiently launch an MVP in 2-6 months and confidently grow it to a full-blown quality product.