Investing in custom software is (and should be) a process. Each stage in the development life cycle is dependent on one another to produce results. Before a program can be designed, coded or tested, your team should clearly define what they are expected to build and the desired results.
A requirements phase helps project managers create guidelines for the expected outcome of the new software.
The goal of this stage is to answer questions such as:
- Who is going to use the system?
- How will they use the system?
- What problem needs to be solved?
- What data should be put into the system?
- What data should be generated by the system?
By analyzing the responses to the questions above, the shape of your software can be built because project managers need an idea of where your priorities lie. From there, the development team can construct multiple use cases. In use cases, each action that a user will take in the new system is described and put into the development timeline, as shown in Figure 1. This level of planning increases foresight, allowing the company to save time and money during the development phase.
Creating a road map
The development team needs this phase to lay out their own responsibilities and start the plan for development. Here are example duties for a few development team members during the requirements phase:
- The Project Manager: Ensure the business analyst has access to all possible information. This includes business process documentation, existing technology, potential technology solutions and desired conditions of the software.
- The Business Analyst: Develop a plan for how the predetermined conditions will be examined. It is his or her responsibility to document the business process descriptions and collect the requirements of the system.
- The Software Architect: Coordinate with the business analyst early in the process to ensure the system is feasible, cost-effect, and meets the basic needs of the organization.
The software development process has a lot of moving parts that demand attention. To keep a project on track and running smoothly, planning is key. The requirements phase allows for the proposal of ideas and solutions, while giving users a say in what problems their new software should address. By knowing what is supposed to be done when it should be done, and adjusting for changing preferences, software development companies can guarantee the new system will be finished and delivered on time.
If your pre-built software doesn’t fulfill your business needs, it might be time for a custom system.