5 Ways to Optimize Your Software Development Life Cycle
Optimizing your software delivery workflow is key to your business success.
9 min read
In today's rapidly changing digital world and highly competitive marketplace, it is becoming increasingly important for software development teams to embrace a more modern and innovative approach to software delivery to be able to deliver software in significantly less time.
However, developing high-quality software solutions requires an effective software development life cycle (SDLC). If you take steps to optimize your company's software development process, either in-house or through outsourcing, you'll significantly improve the chances of a successful product.
In this article, we'll talk about the SDLC workflow and some best practices to follow that can influence the success of project deliveries.
What is a Software Development Life Cycle?
A Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) describes the steps and activities involved in developing high-quality software applications. From a project's ideation to deployment and delivery, SDLC breaks down your software development workflow into essential steps or phases, i.e., from analysis and planning to implementation, testing, deployment, and maintenance.
As a result, the absence of an appropriate SDLC framework in a project can lead to a longer delivery timeline, budget overruns, inferior product quality, and even the project's failure. To ensure quality, SDLC helps development teams optimize and scale their workflow by typically including the following phases:
Planning and Requirement Analysis: Defining the goals and project requirements is the most crucial stage of the SDLC, after which a feasibility study is used to clarify the various technical requirements to develop the project successfully with minimal possible risks.
Design and Prototyping: Software design decisions regarding the architecture are made based on the requirements specification document. The design phase can include creating design documents, establishing coding guidelines, and defining the tools, practices, runtimes, and frameworks the team can use to meet the software requirements.
Development (Coding): Here, the actual coding of the software is done by the development team and the product is developed per the requirements developed during the previous phase. The product takes shape here and begins to resemble the software that will eventually be deployed to users.
Testing: All possible bugs that may arise before the software is released are filtered during this phase. As a fundamental checkpoint for quality assurance, this stage is used to identify flaws and glitches in the product.
Deployment: Depending on the chosen deployment strategy, the software can first be released to a limited number of users as a test run before getting released to the public or a public release is made in one go.
Maintenance (Updates): Certain code issues might only become apparent after the product is released to the market, as well as specific user-related problems. Monitoring by the development team continues, and further refinements can be made to the product. It is here that iteration and additional features can be added.
Optimising Your Software Development Life Cycle with Modern Tools and Strategies
Every software development team wants to succeed, but success is primarily driven by speed and stability. For a software development team to respond to constantly changing market demands effectively, they must be able to build and deliver products quickly.
How then, does an engineering team deliver reliable and bug-free software at high speed with a real-time feedback loop?
Continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipeline streamlines and automates most aspects of software development workflow and its delivery using agile DevOps practices. A CI/CD pipeline acts as a catalyst in a software development life cycle by defining steps to facilitate the delivery of high-quality software.
The CI/CD pipeline introduces monitoring and automation into the SDLC framework, especially in the testing, integration, deployment, and delivery phases. While it is possible to execute every step of a CI/CD pipeline manually, automation is the key to maximizing CI/CD.
To understand CI/CD properly, one must first understand its core elements, namely: CI (Continuous Integration) and CD (Continuous Delivery).
Continuous Integration: Every individual working on the project must regularly merge their code changes into one central repository as part of a continuous integration workflow. Each time a new code commit is made, an automated build and test chain is triggered, which provides developers with immediate feedback.
A Source Code Manager like Git is essential for centralized code management to implement a CI. An automatic build manager (CI server) such as Jenkins or Azure Pipelines is also required for continuous integration.
Continuous Delivery: A continuous delivery workflow automates the delivery of completed code to environments such as testing and production. After code has been tested and built through CI, continuous delivery takes over during the final stages to ensure it can be deployed to any environment at any given time with everything it needs
In continuous delivery, various tasks can be performed automatically, including stopping and restarting the application package, provisioning the infrastructure, unzipping files, replacing configurations, etc. The CD implementation typically requires a package manager and a configuration manager.
A CI/CD pipeline is a deployable environment you get after integrating CI and CD into your SDLC. This results in an automated workflow that reduces manual errors and allows developers to iterate on products quickly.
You can learn more here.
Feature flagging is a DevOps technique that lets you decouple feature releases from code deployment and gives you granular control over your feature releases. As a result of this separation, you're able to control who sees what and when independent of the release. And the "you" can be any member of your organization, be it engineers, product managers, ops, marketers, or even designers.
Feature flagging, at its core, is the ability to wrap sections of your code in conditional statements that you can turn on and off at will. It eliminates feature management from a developer's responsibilities because, with feature flags, anyone on the team can now decide when features go live and who they should be shown to, for pretty much any reason or at any level like — the company level (internal release), customer level (marketing research), or user-level (beta testing).
Using this technique, you can perform tests of your new features with a small group of users or customers to see how it performs in a real-life production environment. Having this level of control over your release unlocks the true power of your software delivery in your SDLC workflow.
Some key benefits of feature flags are:
- Get code to production faster, even when some features are not yet ready for mass consumption.
- Control the blast radius of your releases through user targeting.
- It provides the ability to roll back buggy or poorly performing features quickly when releases don’t go as planned.
- Run A/B tests of features to see which performs better through user segmentation.
- Release features incrementally through percentage rollouts to gain feedback early on that can be used to iterate it further.
Visit this blog post to learn more about feature flagging.
Using Agile Architectures: Microservices and Serverless
The traditional way of developing software applications typically involves using a monolithic architecture centred around building the various components as a unified unit with a self-contained large code base that couples all business concerns together. This makes implementing changes and adding features to the application difficult, and if a component requires scaling, the whole application would have to be scaled.
With the rapid advancement of technology, applications that are easily scalable and agile enough to be delivered continuously are in high demand. The emergence of microservices and serverless computing resulted from these evolving requirements. Although both architectures adopt different approaches to software development, scalability and flexibility remain a top priority.
Microservice: As its name implies, microservices are architecture patterns for breaking large applications into smaller ones. Here applications are structured as a collection of services that are loosely coupled, highly maintainable, easily testable, independently deployable, can be owned by smaller teams, and organized around business capabilities or services.
Serverless: This is where the application is broken into event-driven functions that are hosted on a third-party cloud computing server. As a result, development teams do not have to worry about maintaining the server but rather delegate the management to a trusted third party.
Hence, large and complex applications can be delivered rapidly, frequently, and reliably using microservices and serverless architectures. By using these agile architectures, developers can focus on speed and scalability by breaking down applications into manageable bite-sized chunks that can be built and tested rapidly at all stages of development.
You can learn more microservices and serverless here.
As developers, we are often tasked with modifying texts, links and image assets on products several times while working on them based on requested changes from non-engineering team members such as product teams, marketing teams, design teams, or even clients. These teams may not always be happy with the changes implemented during this iteration process which often results in a lot of back-and-forth product edits between the engineering and product teams.
Every organization wants to employ tools that improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their teams to increase their time to market. Imagine a workflow where your product teams and contributors could interact and edit your product as if they were developers without writing any code. It would free developers from editing tasks and enable them to focus on the actual product development and building of features.
Flycode frees developers from product edits by enabling product teams to work like software engineers - to ship better products faster with no-code. FlyCode is a no-code product editor tool for collaborative product development teams that makes web apps editable without coding so companies can iterate and release products faster. Flycode lets you centralize updates for your product by streamlining delivery through a collaboration between developers and product teams. As a result, it simplifies product modification and speeds up collaborative product development.
Key benefits of using FlyCode:
- No integration, no coding required; instantly start editing
- Ship products faster - Free developers time with automated workflows
- Product editor - Eliminate guesswork with a visual editor
- GitHub synced - Works with Git to match your devs’ workflow
- It helps product teams move from idea to production
- Built-in collaboration
Visit FlyCode to learn more.
Adopting Modern Tools
Optimizing your software workflow and delivery is the key to your business success. Hence, using modern tools can significantly impact any development team and its SDLC.
Integrated development environment: Developers need tools to help them keep up with the increasing complexity of writing code. The right IDE should allow editing code, syntax highlighting, auto code completion, managing source code, debugging and compiling code. E.g., VS Code
Source Version Control: Keeps track of the changes in the code so that if something goes wrong, we can compare different code versions and revert to a previous version when necessary. This is important, especially when working in a collaborative environment. E.g., Git and GitHub.
Project and Task Manager: An agile development team should have a project management tool that teams can use to plan, track, and release their software. It keeps people and projects aligned with the organization's goals. E.g., Jira
Using Design and Prototyping Tools: Design and prototyping tools enable designers to create a detailed virtual representation of the final product and how it should feel and behave. E.g., Figma and Adobe XD
Software development in the modern age is fast, iterative, complex, and contains many moving parts. To stay relevant and meet rapidly changing market demand, modern teams need to improve their SDLC. Optimizing your development workflow with the aforementioned tools and strategies can work together to minimize the time spent coding and get the product to customers faster and more reliably.
If you found this blog post helpful or know of other ways to optimize your SDLC, do leave a comment :).