What is Software Development?
Let’s start with the basics of what software development really is. To sum it up: It is a process that creates, designs, and delivers software. It encompasses everything that occurs from the idea through to the final product and it is usually done in a planned, organized format with work between developers and engineers being approved by a business that is funding and will ultimately own the software.
What Does Software Do?
Software is the set of instructions, aka programs that tell a computer how to function and behave in various settings. According to Science Daily, “Software is a program that enables a computer to perform a specific task...Once the software is loaded, the computer is able to execute the software. This involves passing instructions from the application software, through the system software, to the hardware which ultimately receives the instruction as machine code. Each instruction causes the computer to carry out an operation -- moving data, carrying out a computation, or altering the control flow of instructions.”
Even that is a very simplified version of what software does, but it suits our purposes here.
There are three main classes of software that we will cover off briefly:
System software is responsible for fundamental functions such as operating systems, utilities, hardware management,and other core pieces.
Programming software provides tools for programmers such as text editors, debuggers and other tools that are used to create code.
Application software helps users complete diverse tasks. These also include web and mobile apps as well as applications for data management and security programs.
With this in mind, we’ll leave the technical aspects of what software does to the engineers. And instead, return to the question of how the software development process works between Pixel560 (our boutique nearshore software development firm) and its clients.
The Software Development Process (What to Expect)
The process of entrusting your idea with another firm that will bring life to your vision is an exciting one, but it can come with some trepidation. To assuage that we’re letting you in on our software development process or DevOps. We want you to feel comfortable approaching us with your project. We know how important it can be to the business and we take your trust and the responsibility the job entails very seriously. There are roughly six steps involved in the process of start to finish software.
Step 1: Analysis and Planning
The first step involves both parties coming together to discuss the project requirements. Usually, both groups will detail how the software project aligns with its mission and bigger picture goals. Pixel506 may highlight past work that shows our teams are capable of delivering a project of your scale and industry. We’ll allocate personnel and teams, and we will present a schedule for the project and a final deliverable date. At this point, we will also discuss the cost involved.
Step 2: Technical Specifications
We understand that every software development project must meet a user’s needs and help solve a problem if it is to be successful. We will make sure that we understand the specific user needs and end goal of your project. We will also ensure that we know what you will need from a functional perspective. We might ask if it needs to integrate with other tools. And we’ll also ask questions about privacy and come up with a plan to ensure your user’s privacy is protected. At this phase, we’ll start planning the sprints using Agile methodologies to develop your software. The development team will lay out which software types and programming languages will be used.
Step 3: Prototyping
As the process progresses, we’ll begin prototyping the design and functionality of the software. We create wireframes shared through Figma where your team can make comments and changes directly to the files. Revision can easily be done and we can go through iterations until the final design is agreed upon.
Step 4: Development
We’ve finally arrived at the development stage in the process. This stage is also when programming or coding takes place. Using Agile methods, our teams begin sprints to develop your software. At the end of each iteration, we complete testing to make sure everything is functioning perfectly and there are no security issues. We then share the results with you and implement feedback. After, we begin the next sprint and so forth until the product is finished.
Step 5: Testing
Despite doing tests in each sprint, once the final product is completed, we will run additional tests and conduct testing to ensure functionality and security. Testing teams can run stress tests and challenge functionality in different environments and scenarios to ensure optimal performance.
Step 6: Launch and Beyond
At this phase we hand over the final product, ready for launch! But that doesn’t mean that our relationship has to end there. At Pixel506 we offer long-term plans that keep our teams engaged and working on your products and projects. You may find you’d like to add features or tweak things based on user feedback. We offer periodic testing to ensure that everything is functioning as it should be. We’re also more than happy to help out with basic maintenance to ensure user loyalty. Oftentimes we have engineers who are dedicated to a project working side by side with in-house teams that stay on after the launch.
Development Team Augmentation
You may decide that you do not need to use an outside firm to build a software product. Perhaps you have an in-house team already in place, but discover that you’re a little shorthanded when it comes to creating your software within the desired time frame. This is a situation where team augmentation services are the ideal solution. Software Development agencies such as Pixel506 offer team augmentation services to help give projects the extra manpower and boost they need. Pixel506 takes care of the human resources portion of finding and hiring top-tier talent to assist with your software project.
At Pixel506, we have strict hiring practices and only employ talented, educated, and proven team members. Costa Rica has one of the best education systems in Latin America. National universities such as UCR (Universidad de Costa Rica) are highly esteemed and private schools also have proven track records of graduates who are well prepared for the workforce. Rest assured, the individuals that will be working on your project will be highly qualified.
We are happy to discuss your needs and together can decide on the best strategy, the number of personnel your team might need, and the duration.
What to Look For in a Software Development Company
Now that you’re equipped with a bit more about the software development process, let’s discuss how to select the right firm to partner with.
Software development has become a global enterprise service. Oftentimes it is in a business’s best interest to partner with an agency that is outside of the US. When engaging a software development company outside of your own borders it’s important to establish a relationship to ensure that deadlines will be met, work cultures will be respected and that quality standards align.
More often, businesses are choosing to use nearshore software providers for these very reasons: alike work cultures, high-quality work, and value. Once you’ve made the decision to engage a software development firm, there are several things to look for regardless of where they’re located.
When working with external teams, communication needs to be clear, and goal-oriented without misunderstandings. Furthermore, any partner’s work process should match your workflow during the development cycle of your software. At Pixel506, we use Agile methodologies to keep our clients in the loop on every sprint of the software development process.
Ask potential partners about their communication styles, communication tools, and response time for providing answers and solutions when issues arise. If outsourcing, English language skills are also important. Fluent and near-native English language skills in Latin and Central America make nearshoring a strong partner option over off-shoring.
Any partner should be able to show a strong portfolio of software development projects and positive client testimonials. This proves that the agency has handled projects of scale and perhaps in similar industries in the past. A portfolio will also help attest to the business’s reputation for quality. References are also important, be sure to ask for them from past clients. Follow up and learn how the process went from the client’s perspective. It will help you decide if the software agency is one that you’d feel comfortable working with.
When engaging an agency, you always want to make sure that your intellectual property is protected. Ask potential partners about their security procedures, Master Service Agreements (MSA), and Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA). Ensure that they’re using cybersecurity measures with the most up-to-date technology. This is especially important in software development as it is highly competitive and an idea or even a prototype can sell for millions.
- Time Zone Compatibility:
Working with partners in different countries and different time zones can slow down development progress. Whenever possible, choose partners who work in similar time zones for ease of communication and rapid response to questions, and quick problem-solving. Similar time zones eliminate the lag time between responses, as well as the need for meetings during non-business hours.
When interviewing a potential nearshore company, make sure to ask them about their turnover rates and what processes they have in place to ensure new staff is well-trained before they are being assigned to your projects. The HR piece is an important part of the overall success of your final software product’s execution.
- Top Talent:
Ask potential partners about their team's experience and education to better understand what to expect. You can also inquire about their hiring process and to what extent they involve clients. Latin America has a large pool of talented engineers and developers to choose from, making it a great option as a software partner. Costa Rica is also the most educated country in Latin America, making it an obvious choice for nearshoring.
Above all else, outsourcing work is about relationships. If you feel comfortable and excited about the team you’re working with, you know you’re on the right track. When interviewing prospective firms ask lots of questions, do research and follow up with past clients.
In an interview, Pixel506’s CEO, Antonio Ramirez discusses the relationship between culture and technology. “I’m a firm believer that finding the right cultural fit between your in-house team and the nearshore team is just as important as technical skills. As long as you work with people who communicate well and who cherish similar values, it doesn’t matter if they are based in different countries.”
The above information is meant to make the decision to outsource part or all of the development of your software project less obfuscated and more accessible. If you have questions and would like to discuss further options for our software development services, please feel free to reach out.
- Software is the set of instructions, aka programs that tell a computer how to function and behave in various settings.
- Software development is a process that creates, designs, and delivers software.
- There are 3 main classes of software: System, Programming, and Application.
- There are roughly 6 steps involved in the process of start to finish software.
See our article above to learn more about each step.
- In the situation where an organization doesn’t need a full team, software development agencies such as Pixel506 offer team augmentation services to help give projects the extra manpower and boost they need.
- Software development has become a global enterprise service. Oftentimes it is in a business’ best interest to partner with an agency that is outside of the US. Nearshoring is a viable option.
- This leads us to 6 key areas of consideration to find the best fit when partnering with an outside organization; communication, quality, security, time zone compatibility, turnover, and talent.
- Cultural connection is also a consideration when engaging an outside firm. If you feel comfortable and excited about the team you’re working with, you know you’re on the right track.
If you're looking for a nearshore software development service or a technical staff augmentation service, Pixel506 can help. We are located in Costa Rica but also have Pixelians (team members) based in Peru, Nicaragua, and Colombia. We help businesses gain a competitive advantage and exceed business goals through software development, user experience strategies, data-driven insights, and innovative solutions. Founded in 2009, we have over a decade of experience helping big, medium, and small companies succeed in the digital marketplace. Contact us today to see how we can help―we look forward to getting to know you and your business over a digital cup of coffee.
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