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The Key to a Seamless Delivery Process

4 min read

Smooth delivery isn’t solely a result of hiring qualified developers. This article explores each phase of a meticulously structured 6-step Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC), from initial planning to the concluding maintenance stage, and highlights the essentials of each step.

Simply writing good code isn’t enough. Therefore, developers’ work must be integrated with the delivery structure through proper process management. The SDLC methodology perfectly frames all delivery steps. The idea of SDLC is to release a high-quality, maintainable software product within a predetermined timeframe. The primary goal of the delivery manager or CTO is to orchestrate the process seamlessly, ensuring the correct deliverables are produced for each phase.

The delivery process streamlines every step of the SDLC, ensuring that respectful artifacts are correctly passed from one step to the next throughout the cycle. These artifacts must seamlessly flow between the cycle stages, which we’ll cover in detail below.

Phases of the Software Development Lifecycle 

Phases of Seamless Delivery Process
Phases of Seamless Delivery Process

1. Planning and analysis 

The delivery process begins well before development when we clarify requirements and understand the project’s scope. At this stage, the essential question is, “Can it be done?” The feasibility analysis addresses this question.

The team meets to discuss what will be done and how it will be accomplished. They verify whether the provided requirements align with the available resources and capabilities. Sometimes, the product idea is not feasible. For instance, the work required to achieve the set goals might significantly exceed budget constraints. The delivery manager, or CTO, coordinates the SDLC early phase to tackle rising challenges and leverage a smooth transition to the subsequent phases.  

What are the most common challenges of the analysis and planning phase?

  1. Unclear requirements. Missing or vague requirements lead to project scope creep, delays, and increased costs.
  2. Stakeholder and team alignment. Ensuring all stakeholders and team members understand and agree on project goals.
  3. The incorrect approach to feasibility analysis entails accurately assessing the project’s feasibility in terms of technical capabilities, budget, and timeline constraints. Overoptimism or underestimation at this stage can lead to unrealistic expectations.

Who takes part in the planning and analysis stage: Product Managers and Owners define what needs to be built and why, Business Analysts provide the details of how it should work, and the CTO coordinates the technology strategy so that it covers these objectives. They ensure the project is well-defined, technically feasible, and aligned with business goals before development.

Deliverables: clearly defined requirements and specific recommendations for implementation. 

2. Design 

The product design phase involves planning to implement tasks identified during the analysis phase. For example, our team was set to implement a full-text search. To build such a function, we evaluated the feasibility of leveraging the database and several free engines capable of conducting a full-text search. We decided to use ElasticSearch for the task. This requires structuring the data storage in a specific manner. Properly configured, ElasticSearch will handle the data indexing. The outcome of the design stage provides a clear understanding of how this feature will be implemented.

Similar to our approach in the previous stage, we’ll identify the significant challenges and the focal points of the design phase:

  1. Technical architecture decisions: making the right architectural decisions that will not limit the system in the future plays a defining role. Poor choices lead to performance issues, scalability problems, and technical debt.
  2. Create a design that meets the audiences’ needs: a compelling design requires an exceptionally clear understanding of the target audience. This enables the designer to craft solutions that resonate deeply and effectively with them. Wrong approaches or an attempt to build a universal design are set up for failure.
  3. Aligning design with architecture is crucial; the CTO is responsible for maintaining this harmony. Designers and architects, often working in isolation, might overlook each other’s decisions. Therefore, a design plan that orchestrates their synergy emerges as a thoughtful compromise, embodying the collective vision of both the designer and the architect.

Who takes part in the design stage: the System Architect and UI/UX Designers work closely together to ensure that the technical architecture supports the best possible user experience and that the design is feasible within the technical framework of the project. 

Deliverables: system architecture and interface snapshots.

3. Development

At this stage, the development team is the primary focus. By having team members who understand both front-end and back-end perspectives, the team can more easily identify and resolve issues that span both domains. They work on the front and back, assemble interfaces, set up necessary libraries, and deploy the product in a staging environment. Once assembled, the product proceeds to testing. Let’s list the core challenges of the development stage addressed by the CTO:

  1. Making optimal architectural solutions: evaluating the infrastructure’s fault tolerance, security, and cost-effectiveness.
  2. Maintaining a high-quality codebase: assessing test coverage and identifying any vulnerabilities.
  3. Taking responsibility for the development standardization process: the CTO undertakes responsibility for establishing standardization in development practices.
  4. Maintaining up-to-date technical documentation: the CTO allocates responsibility for ensuring the completeness and current relevance of the product’s technical documentation.

Deliverables of the development stage: the set of features, pre-prepared and ready for testing.

4. Testing

At this stage, the CTO is solely responsible for the product’s quality and is directly accountable to the stakeholders. They also ensure the following:

  • QA strategy and framework development: the CTO defines and implements a comprehensive Quality Assurance (QA) strategy and framework, ensuring thorough testing and quality checks.
  • QA alignment with other functions: the CTO is responsible for aligning and integrating QA processes with other business functions, facilitated by comprehensive product documentation to maintain consistency and quality across all departments.

Other roles during the testing stage are the solution architect, who ensures testing strategies align with architectural design; QA engineers, who develop and execute test plans; testers, who provide usability feedback and report defects; and DevOps, who set up and maintain testing environments while automating deployment processes. Collaboration between these roles ensures software meets quality standards and is delivered effectively.

Deliverables: user experience free of critical bugs, performance issues, and usability problems

5. Deployment

At this stage, the responsibilities of the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) include:

  1. Developing the DevOps vision and delivery strategies: crafting a clear vision for DevOps within the organization and outlining strategic delivery approaches to achieve this vision.
  2. Cultivating the DevOps culture and mindset, as well as maintaining a proper toolkit: initiating and nurturing a DevOps culture throughout the company, promoting a collaborative mindset, and introducing the necessary tools for its implementation.
  3. Evaluating and enhancing DevOps Performance: continuously measuring the outcomes and impacts of DevOps practices and seeking ways to optimize and improve these processes for better efficiency and effectiveness.

Let’s review the main events of the deployment phase. Once the product receives tester approval, it is launched. If the delivery occurs within the SDLC framework, the cycle begins again with the planning and analysis stage within the next iteration, where requirements for the following features are processed.

Roles in the deployment stage: data administrators and DevOps ensure that the software deployment is executed efficiently, with minimal disruption to operations, and that data integrity and system stability are maintained. They also facilitate smooth transitions from development to production environments, contributing to the success of the deployment stage in the SDLC.

Deliverables: the product reaches real users 

6. Maintenance

 

photo 1498050108023 c5249f4df085?q=80&w=1000&auto=format&fit=crop&ixlib=rb 4.0 development
Image courtesy of Unsplash, Christopher Gower

The maintenance stage is optional. For example, maintenance will be necessary if deployment results from the previous month reveal a bug. In this case, it will involve revisiting the problems from earlier releases during the planning stage and addressing them accordingly. Below, you’ll find the most common challenges of maintenance:

  1. Managing technical debt: first, the team must be able to address and manage accumulated technical debt without impacting ongoing operations. 
  2. User feedback and bug reporting: efficiently managing user feedback and bug reports to prioritize and implement fixes or enhancements.
  3. Upgrades and scalability: ensure the system is easily upgradeable and scalable to meet future demands without significant rework. Addressing these issues requires careful planning, clear communication, and agile response to emerging challenges throughout the SDLC process.

Roles in the maintenance stage: users may submit bug reports, feature requests, or other feedback through designated channels provided by the development team. Testers continue to perform regression testing to ensure that previously fixed defects do not reappear and test cases are updated. Support managers communicate with the development team to escalate unresolved issues or prioritize bug fixes based on customer impact.

Deliverables: smooth operation of the product.

In conclusion, the CTO plays a pivotal role in product delivery, from gathering requirements to receiving customer feedback post-launch. The CTO’s responsibilities span throughout the SDLC process as follows:

  • Coordinating the technology strategy to ensure precise requirements and understanding of the project’s scope by teams;
  • Maintaining  harmony between the app’s architecture and its design;
  • Maintaining a high-quality codebase and development practices; 
  • Being directly accountable to the stakeholders for the product’s quality;
  • Ensuring the highest quality environment for DevOps work;
  • Addressing the customers’ feedback post-launch and ensuring continuous improvement of the product. 

 

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