Every application evolves from an idea to a complete product – and the road it has to pass to become one is often long and winding. What does it usually look like? In this article, we guide you through the software product development life cycle, pointing out the crucial aspects to look into. There is no universal recipe for a successful product – you always have to be conscious of the uncertainties that could ultimately decide its success.
However, most companies follow an established pattern when developing their products. It consists of various stages, ultimately leading to a product launch. Whether you are thinking of building a product yourself or considering collaborating with an external team, this article will help you prepare for this whole process and set your expectations.
Product development lifecycle – What are its stages?
Before we look into the product development process through the lens of its particular stages, let’s first analyze its lifecycle to understand how it can distribute over time. The product development lifecycle consists of 5 stages – from introduction, through growth, maturity, and saturation, to decline. There are rarely any exceptions to this order – the decline is inevitable in today’s competitive online landscape and the fast pace at which technology is evolving.
When your software reaches the last stage, it doesn’t mean that its market journey is over – quite contrarily, it may be just the beginning! You can then start the whole process all over, reinventing your product with the new user needs in mind and refactoring or rewriting your code to bring it back to the market in a new, refreshed form.
Now that you know what the product lifecycle looks like, let’s move to the stages that lead to its market introduction.
The stages of software product development:
Regardless of the methodology you work with and the specifics of your product, the product development process usually consists of 6 stages:
- Design & Development,
The framework presented above applies to any product process, including software development. The listed stages can be broken down into smaller steps that you will likely fulfill during your product journey.
You usually start the project with just an idea – and the ideation phase serves to explore it, joining forces with your team and external support to make it possible to commercialize. Brainstorming and discussing, you generate and polish the ideas to finish with a venture board.
Once you have it, it’s time for the discovery phase, where your idea matures, forming the foundations for a future product. It’s the moment to understand the market and competition, as well as your user, and define what they expect from your software.
Throughout the discovery phase, you will also start defining the core functionality, paving your path toward the prototype. Ideally, you should finish it with an MVP scope containing features necessary in providing value to the user. .
Design & development
At this point you should already have an MVP, so now you can proceed to minimum viable product software development. It’s time to bring the idea to life through wireframing and creating mockups that will be later turned into code by the development team.
At the same time, your UX designers should work on the user journey, adjusting the workflows in your product to the audience’s needs. If you work in Agile methodology, you will likely want to incorporate testing into every iteration – that’s a great practice to keep things under control!
The big moment has arrived – your app is out on the market, ready and working. It is an essential time to observe the key KPIs to introduce improvements, if needed, before the issues escalate, causing financial loss.
Once your app is released, you still need to work on it, testing, refactoring, and keeping the core functionalities in good shape.
To facilitate the first phases, you can participate in the discovery workshop carried out by an external partner, gathering your team and stakeholders to build a common vision together. It maximizes your chances of success!
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