What is project planning in software development?
Software development teams plan with agile to create solutions quickly. The Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) refers to the route that the team will take to create a finished solution. The SDLC typically consists of seven steps:
- Analysis and planning
- Gathering requirements
- Design and prototyping
- Software development
- Maintenance and updates
Read more on SDLC steps and the difference between SDLC and Agile.
So how do teams create a software development plan?
1. Analysis and planning
First, the team will ask questions so the planning goal is clear. These questions will vary by project, but some common questions they might ask:
- How does the project benefit the company and the end-users?
- How many resources will the project need?
- What are the schedule and deadlines for the project?
- What will be the project cost?
In answering these questions the software development team will analyze and map out a course of action. The planning step is the most important part of the agile project planning process. Planning should involve all stakeholders and team members. This ensures everyone understands and gives needed information on goals for the project. They should all understand which team members will complete which components.
2. Gathering requirements
The team gathers requirements by addressing what exactly the software will be used for and by whom. They determine security needs and risks. The software development team ask stakeholders and users what problems they need the software to address and how.
From here, the team will use agile methodology to plan sprints.
3. Design and prototyping
The software development team begins the design and prototyping step in SDLC by creating wireframes to show how the end product will work and interact with existing software. They might take this further and produce mockups or functioning prototypes to have users test. Design and prototyping help the team work out how the code will function, identifying areas where problems may arise later.
4. Software development
With design and prototyping complete, the team moves on to the actual development of the software. Using agile methodology, the team develops different components of the project in short sprints.
Testing often proves to be the most important part of the SDLC. The development team must ensure that the software contains no bugs or security issues. They must also ensure that the software performs as designed. Testing should involve the development team, stakeholders, and beta tester end users. In agile projects, testing takes place throughout the development process.
Read more on Software Testing Life Cycle (STLC).
Once the software development team has finished testing, it’s time to deploy the software to end users.
7. Maintenance and updates
No software project is ever “finished.” User requirements may change. New security risks may pop up. Undetected bugs might show themselves. The development team takes this information and adds it to the project backlog, tackling the backlog in a new sprint.
The way a software development team using agile methodology uses the SDLC is different from traditional waterfall development methods. Scrum is a critical part of the agile process.
Related post: What are the differences between Agile and Waterfall?
First, let’s define terms. According to the Agile Alliance:
Scrum is a process framework used to manage product development and other knowledge work. Scrum is empirical in that it provides a means for teams to establish a hypothesis of how they think something works, try it out, reflect on the experience, and make the appropriate adjustments.
Sprints are set amounts of time that a part of the process should be completed within. The scrum master will determine the length of the sprint.
Using scrum, the software development team plans the sprints needed to create the final software. The project owner guides the team in reviewing items in the project backlog. This process in agile is call backlog grooming or backlog refinement. Basically, the project owner which items still need addressing, which are outdated, and which are completed.
As part of the backlog grooming process, the team will look at user stories. User stories are descriptions of features written from the end users’ perspective. User stories should be simple and general. The stories should spell out the importance of a feature to the end-user. User stories help to improve project results. Using user stories keeps the team focused on people, not processes. User stories should not look like software requirements. Agile development teams must always work toward a final product that puts users at the center.
During the sprint planning process, the team might add new user stories or remove stories that are no longer relevant. The team will meet for a specific amount of time to discuss the sprint and what they hope to achieve. The sprint planning meeting should involve the project owner, scrum master, project manager and the development and testing teams.
Read more on Sprint planning meeting and other meeting types in Agile meetings: Types, goals, and benefits article.
Let’s take a closer look at what we need to make a great software development plan:
Software development teams must clearly define goals
Clearly defining goals allows the team to build requirements and understand exactly how to plan the SDLC.
After the goals are clear, the development team must determine which resources they require. They should estimate hardware requirements, time and staff needs.
Once the goals and requirements are clear, the team should build a software budget. This budget might not be set in stone, but will give a good rough idea of the final cost of the software development project.
The team should define a timeframe for each sprint in the SDLC. They should allow for unexpected problems and ensure that the schedule is not so tight they cannot finish in time if bugs or security risks arise.
Assemble a team
The project owner, scrum master and project manager should build a team of experienced developers, designers and testers. Teams trained to use agile should be ready to begin the sprint as soon as the goals and requirements are gathered.
Testing, and testing again
The agile methodology ensures quality and speed through continuous testing. Steps of the SDLC may happen simultaneously. The software development team will implement what they learn from testing and user feedback in real-time.
Here at Blocshop, we specialize in creating software using agile. Our expert teams plan carefully so that they deliver great results on time and on budget.