The Software Product Engineering Life Cycle: Crucial Stages You Shouldn’t Ignore
If you’re wondering how to turn your abstract idea into reality, the answer might not come up right away. While you may benefit from spontaneous decisions in your life, spontaneity in the software product engineering world is not something you particularly welcome. As a product manager, you probably catch my drift.
Product engineering is not precisely about only development — it is a painstaking multi-stage process. It includes idea brainstorming, user research, Agile workflow setup, and plenty of other stages your team should go through to finally reach that product-market fit.
The new product development (NPD) process starts with solid team building. As Paul Reddan, Cloud Engineering Manager at Deloitte, pointed out, “Team needs, individual engineer needs, and collaboration should be paramount.” Add to this careful planning, market awareness, a willingness to tackle unconventional challenges, and you are more likely to get a feasible, robust and flexible product that will withstand the test of time and the variability of market demands.
The software development life cycle (SDLC) includes six main stages: requirements gathering, analysis, design, coding, testing, and launch, but not all IT teams follow this pattern. I mean, the coding and launch phases are clear, but information gathering, for example, is not given the attention it deserves, while the testing phase is ignored altogether. The thing is, seemingly insignificant SDLC stages are overlooked due to their time-consuming and monotonous nature, but in the end, it all affects the output product.
Note: Before getting started with NPD, decide on the type of software development process you will stick to. Whether you’ll prefer a traditional waterfall model or an agile one depends on the set goals, IT staff, and project scope.
Together with product development experts from Itransition, we answer the following question: what are the most crucial NPD stages you shouldn’t skip to develop a highly sought-after product relevant to the market’s needs?
Crucial Phases Determining Your Product Success
After a detailed discussion with your stakeholders about a present idea (an output product), it’s time to dive into an equally significant phase — product viability evaluation.
A feasibility review implies studying project viability and the level of expected success regarding technical, economic, legal and human resources’ possibilities. This stage involves the analysis of resources, time, budget, ROI, cash flow, and a projected revenue after product deployment. Risks assessment and the chance of offsetting them against the future revenue also should be considered.
Note: Make sure you complete this first large-scale phase with a scope of action points, created to connect the dots.
Once the idea has been put on paper, it is time to move on to the pre-coding stage — prototype creation. IT teams rarely ignore this SDLC stage, but the problem arises in terms of how thorough this phase is carried out. While some designers end up with quick wireframes, others go through a profound stage of full-fledged prototype creation, which is more effective.
Of course, the scale of prototype creation hinges on the team’s goals and the software development way chosen. Still, a more profound prototype demonstrates both the visual (branding) and functional sides of the product in a more comprehensive way.
Minimum viable product development
MVP development depends on the time and budget allocated to the project. Indeed, such a demo-version design before a full one might take up a big chunk of time and money, but it is a crucial step some companies skip. With the MVP creation and implementation, you will likely create a high-quality product thanks to users testing and leaving feedback. Otherwise, if the project does not work out at this stage, you will save the money and time by curbing the project early and moving on.
The main issue in this stage is an inadequate testing level. While some companies perform cursory testing that is time- and cost-effective, others find the testing stage too important to skip, and they are correct. It’s recommended to arrange second-round testing to release the product to beta testers before providing it to the end-users or go through in-production testing. According to Talia Nassi, Developer Advocate at Split.io, “In-production testing is the future because it’s where users experience the application, so it’s more effective if done safely.”
Of course, it’s up to you what kind of testing to perform within your team while at NPD. Anyway, the result should be the same — a bug-free product meeting the quality standards and providing a high-end user experience.
Marketing campaign roll-out
After final checks for bottlenecks and bugs, it’s time to get the product out there. But what about promotion and marketing strategy? Sometimes it seems like a sideline matter, but how else will your audience know about the release? The more users are aware, the higher chances of your product success. So, consider a marketing campaign in advance: think about the best marketing channels, carry out app store optimization, and gather feedback from your targeted audience.
In many cases, this stage is an optional one. Still, it is critical as a thought-out marketing strategy significantly impacts your product breakthrough.
Finally, after you finish the software product engineering process, it’s time to get started with product maintenance. There is always room for perfection, so keep improving your product to your audience’s delight.
Andrey Koptelov is an Innovation Analyst at Itransition, a custom software development company headquartered in Denver. With a profound experience in IT, he writes about new disruptive technologies and innovations in artificial intelligence and machine learning.