When it comes to software, ideas for “the next big thing” can be plentiful, but how a person or team brings those ideas to fruition can significantly impact the outcome. Do you spend weeks putting out fires and dealing with bugs? Or do you hit the ground running with a minimum viable product (MVP)?
At MQ we’re a full-cycle software development team—that means we can take your idea, nurture it, evolve it, and protect it so that you end up with a product that works and has been prioritized to your timeline, budget, and most-urgent needs. We help our clients plan, design, develop and roll-out new projects into the marketplace while avoiding major hurdles along the way. We work with small businesses and enterprise-level corporations to build software implementation plans, and those are customized to work best within each client’s individual operational needs. Most importantly, we make sure the job gets completed, that the final product works as you need it to, and that your team is guided through the process as we move from an idea, though execution, into the final rollout, and then even afterwards with maintenance and support (should your team require it).
Understanding the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC)
The typical software development cycle covers a 7-point process, starting with planning and ending with maintenance. We include two additional points of, “adoption” and “enhancements” because it is our experience that many clients sometimes require a complete service offering. A “white gloved” approach to their software development strategy, and for us, this means not just completing a project, but also following it through into market adoption and evaluation, before maintenance ever enters the picture. For this reason, our definition of the “Software Development Life Cycle” covers 9 checkpoints across 3 phases.
Phases & Checkpoints of a Software Development Project
PLANNING – In the planning phase we build a blueprint which captures and clearly articulates what the product is, what it must do, and what it will look like. Vital for getting stakeholder collaboration and buy-in, the blueprint may also include important items such as: budgeting, product roadmap, user experience explorations, and caveats for future consideration.
Phase 1: Planning & Design
Concept & Ideation
- Taking your original idea or problem that needs a solution and crafting a complete, well-considered solution which can be handed off to the design team.
- A process of capturing the needs and desires of your stakeholders and users; these requirements will be used to plan features and functionality.
- User research, solution exploration, prioritization of requirements, and outcome identification and targeting. This is where we clarify exactly what “success” means for a given project.
Software Design, User Experience & Interface Planning
- Taking the concept, ideas, and requirements and visualize the possible solution. Testing and exploring different approaches to the same problem. Finding a design that works best within the framework of the project. Designs are integral in gathering stakeholder feedback because an idea becomes something tangible and can be used to evolve proposed ideas.
- The design checkpoint typically includes: Architectural planning, interaction designs, user experience & user interface design, and rapid prototyping which allows us to gather tactile insight as stakeholders can hold and interact with the proposed product.
Phase 2: Implementation & Coding
In this phase we take the approved blueprint, designs, and associated feedback and build the final product. At MQ we follow a development methodology called Spiral Development (which is similar to Agile Development) but more flexible and adaptive for smaller teams. Spiral development allows us to integrate ideas continuously, test, and iterate which we feel yields a more superior product in less time.
- Build the framework, setup the programming technologies and tools so that the project works within your internal processes and is also scalable in the future.
- Convert designs to reality and code each element of the solution, building out features and connecting the data and information as we go.
- Clarify programming languages, development tools and frameworks, database, and build processes—at this phase we will also start with a staging environment so your team is able to evaluate progress as the development team works on the product.
Testing & Quality Assurance (QA)
- Defective or “buggy” software can make a product unusable. While our team follows rigorous testing through all phases of development, we close out projects with a standard QA evaluation which also includes working with our client to gather any issues they may find. The end result is a stable and defect-free solution.
- “Known Defects” - In rare cases, known defects may be left unresolved (at the choice of the client) pending the severity of the issue and impact it has on the overall product.
- Interaction testing, Data handling, and error management are also reviewed at this stage.
- By this point, you will be very familiar with your product and it’s ready to go live! Depending on the size of the project, a production deployment may take minutes or days. On existing projects with a large ongoing userbase we may carve out an off-hour maintenance window.
Phase 3: Adoption & Maintenance
Once your product is available for your users to access or download, you need to either attract them or inform them of the value you offer. We can help you with outreach campaigns, marketing strategies, content plans, and ensure that you’re able to effectively bring users to your now-complete project.
Adoption & Go to Market Strategies
- From active advertising and paid campaigns to informing your existing users with email lists and press releases, your go to market strategy requires on-brand professional attention. You've built it, now it’s time to get it into the hands of the people who need it.
Completion & Success
- A production deployment may have felt like the finish line, but at MQ we know that your success isn’t about the final product, but about what it can do for your users, for your business and for your team. We’re here to offer continued support and updates should you want to continue evolving your product, and if you need maintenance support, we can offer that too.
Enhancements, Maintenance, Software Updates & Technical Support
- Technology constantly changing and just like your operating system gets updated every couple of months, so too does your web browser and most other key pieces of software. Your product needs maintenance too, so if you need assistance with firmware updates, hosting migrations, and updated features, we’re here to keep your project running smoothly and securely.
We Work With Your Team Through the Software Lifecycle
For businesses who already have inhouse teams, we work to fill in the gaps but keep the project moving forward. If you have a UX team, they can hand design documents off to us, if you have a marketing team, we can work with them to ensure their marketing campaigns are as effective as possible. Even if you already have a development team, we can work as integrated teams, or tackle segments of the project. Bottom line, we’re here to work with your team to ensure your project gets completed.
The Software Lifecycle—Concept to Completion
When we say concept to completion, we mean it! We take your idea and work with you to transform it into reality. Often the idea evolves along the way as the planning, design and prototyping checkpoints start to give your idea life. That’s the value of working with a team like MQ—we enable innovation and ideation by using software skills like rapid prototyping to better-refine your idea. That way, when your project is complete and in the hands of your users, it’s not the first version, but the 15th version and it’s accounted for
Looking for a white-gloved approach to managing your software lifecycle?
Contact us, and let's setup a plan for your next project