In a market where trends and demands are constantly shifting, you simply can’t take your time and be inefficient with your software development lifecycle. Getting your product to market first can often mean you stand the best chance of success and being able to update and evolve this product efficiently will only strengthen your position. Each phase of your project needs to be planned and executed with precision and speed, but quality must be maintained. Saving time where you can enables your developers to focus on important aspects of your product and get it to market or adapt it to a changing market quickly and easily.
There are many tried and tested time saving techniques you can use in your team to achieve faster development cycles.
Start with a Wireframe
Wireframing has been a part of the design process through many different eras and technologies and using it today is still just as important as it ever has been in the past. A low fidelity, low detail and sketched wireframe will allow teams to talk through the entire product. User interface designers can explain and portray their ideas to developers who will gain a better understanding of what the end product will look like, and graphic designers or asset artists can start work alongside the other teams, leading to reduced development time and more cohesion between the teams working on different elements of the project. It will lead to less confusion and better communication between these teams and takes very little time to do. Applications like Balsamiq and MockFlow are incredibly useful here.
The MVP Method
For the first iteration of your application, aim to build it in a state where it is completely useable and stable with the minimum required number of features and the lowest complexity. In the development world, we call this a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). It allows for essential testing and QA to take place, particularly in the realms of user accessibility and viability testing before you create your fully featured application. Creating this MVP build will also mean your foundation is solid and all the features you add to it get built alongside its core functionality.
In a corporate environment, where you’re designing bespoke software, you might be able to shed a couple of unneeded or bloated features that aren’t needed and you’re keeping the chance of over-engineering your product to a minimum. You will also get quick and incredibly valuable feedback early on in the development lifecycle, and you are able to incorporate this feedback as you expand your product.
It’s All About Being Agile
There’s not one particular framework that encompasses the term ‘agile development’, but rather it’s an umbrella term for several different ways of going about the development lifecycle with the view that the quicker you can shift gears and make changes, the better your end product is going to be and the more viable it will be while it’s on the market. The very idea of an agile framework is to not inundate the users with rules and guidelines, but to be as lightweight as possible.
By embracing the basic ideas behind agile development processes, you’ll be able to gauge things like user feedback quickly and early and get real time feedback that you can incorporate into your development ideas and processes. It has quickly become the industry standard on which almost all development teams and software houses base their product lifecycle.
Hybrid Mobile Development
There are a good number of mobile platforms in the wild, but two stand out above the rest – iOS and Android. Consider then using cross-platform or hybrid development tools which will quickly reduce the amount of repetition you sign your development team up for should you be developing your app for both platforms. Using hybrid tools that will enable this will dramatically speed up your development needs.
Automate Your Testing Processes
Probably one of the most productive and time saving things you can do is to automate your testing processes. Instead of doing long and tedious manual QA testing, automate everything you can. Not only does it save time, but it’s also going to be more thorough. It means you can test more often and that is only going to increase the quality of the final product. Not only that, but it will increase the security of your app too. Tests to specifically verify the security of your app and protect it against things like viruses or zero-day exploits are essential, and with automated testing, you have no reason not to. Take the time to read and research more about the process and possibilities of automated testing via the Global App Testing website. There you can find mobile app testing, web app testing and exploratory testing solutions.
Make Use of Third-Party Assets
If your app makes use of assets that are readily available online, don’t bother creating your own. Things like graphics, stock photography or music can be purchased for far lower than the cost of producing your own and save you a huge amount of time, planning, production costs and complexity. Many game engines and IDEs will have resources you can tap into, including code repositories and libraries too.
Don’t Be Scared to Outsource
There’s no shame in outsourcing some of the development work. If your in-house team are all Apple developers and have created an excellent app for the iPhone, it’s probably not necessary to have them fumble through Android SDKs or to hire Android developers when you can simply outsource this part of the development work. It’s not just cross-platform ports that you can embrace outsourcing. Consider giving some of the less important or non-essential tasks to an outsourced developer. If you want to add a specific feature to your app, and your in-house development team is at capacity, outsource it.
Consistently reviewing and tweaking how you develop your products and run your development team is a very necessary process in the modern software development world. Using frameworks like the well-used and battle-hardened AGILE framework is a wonderful foundation and adding to it with other effective techniques will lend you in good stead for a productive environment.