In planning software development, estimating the potential of the software product is a first step that must include both cost-benefit analysis and the usefulness that the development will bring to users. It is also essential to consider factors such as the estimated durability that the software product will have in the company and how it will help to achieve business objectives; that is the software life cycle.
This first analysis must be complemented with a study of the software life cycle, that is, with an evaluation of the potential evolution of the utility of the software in the company over time.
What is the Software Life Cycle?
The software life cycle is a dynamic concept, which assumes a series of steps or stages that development goes through from its conception to its obsolescence.
The determinants of the life cycle period are both uncontrollable factors in the environment and fully controllable managerial decisions. One of the most important uncontrollable factors is the evolution of technology, which drives new products, and makes existing ones obsolete. A second factor is the evolution of production and consumption, which means that certain developments are no longer suitable for the market while others are in demand.
These factors exist in all sectors and industries. However, it is a fact that certain developments have longer cycles than others. The life cycle is also influenced by the marketing efforts of the competition, particularly when the market expands. So we can say that it is not a fixed process, and our experience in this field allowed us to identify a wide variety of patterns.
Let’s analyze the Different Steps of the Software Life Cycle.
The software life cycle begins with its birth. This stage includes both the recognition of the need and the planning and ideation and subsequent development. This is a broad phase, which usually lasts a considerable time.
Generally, companies that provide software development services, such as Huenei, are in charge of carrying out these projects hand in hand with clients. Specifically, at Huenei we offer three development service models that allow this first phase of the life cycle to be carried out: Dedicated Teams, Staff Augmentation, and Turnkey Projects.
As an example, we would like to mention the development of a corporate Sharepoint Portal that we carried out for ABB. The objective of this project was to create software that allowed easy management and distribution of information among different business areas.
Once the software has been developed, it is time to launch it. In this instance, the company presents the product to its employees, customers, suppliers, or whoever will be the end-user.
It is also common for the development team to be present in the first instances. For example, at Huenei we generally accompany our clients in the introduction of software developments to users and we provide support and follow-up during the first months of use.
Once the software product has been released, its use of it begins to grow and evolve. Early growth occurs when the early adopters of the program become savvy in using it and begin to get used to it and take it as part of their day-to-day work.
In a second instance, late growth occurs when the laggards who had not been able to get used to the use of this developed product, begin to be motivated by those who already are users to join the tribe.
Once the majority of potential users are using the software, it is said to reach a point of maturity in its life cycle. This means that many users have been reached and, therefore, this number will hardly achieve great growth in the future.
This is generally the desired instance as it means that almost the entire segment (e.g. company employees) has gotten used to using this product and has integrated it into their day-to-day operations.
Lastly, all good things usually come to an end. The instance of obsolescence occurs when the software is no longer used. Generally, a few users stop using the product and this trend grows until it reaches the majority of users.
Technological change, organizational restructuring, demanding market changes, and the deliberate decision of users are some examples by which software can reach its obsolescence stage. There is no estimated time to reach obsolescence; there are developments that can have short life cycles, of months, while others can last for years and years until they reach their obsolescence.
Gaining an understanding of the software life cycle can help you in future planning for your developments. It is very important to forecast or estimate how these five phases could occur in your new development, to take preventive and decisive measures.
For example, if you identify slow early growth, it will be important for you to take actions that communicate to users about the new product and motivate them to start testing and using it. Another very common example is the detection of potential rapid obsolescence in terms of time; In this case, it will be essential that you manage to identify the factors that would speed up this obsolescence to neutralize them or adapt the characteristics of your new product to defeat or overcome these threats.
Without further ado, we invite you to think together about the life cycle of your next software development project and to be able to find the best way to achieve your business objectives.