Custom software development remains a mystery to many. While everyone uses some form of computer these days, be it a desktop, a laptop or a smartphone, very few of us know how they were created, or how they do the things they do.
In truth, there’s no need for the role of developers to be a mystery. It’s a field of expertise that is vital to the health and wealth of both individuals and organizations, and understanding its ins and outs can help anyone to gain both an appreciation for what this field brings to the world, and an understanding of how application development might facilitate greater personal or organizational success.
These terms are often used interchangeably, but the truth is that there are subtle differences between software, programs and applications.
In this way, the only type of software that most computer users will ever really deal with is application software.
It’s also important to note that while most developers will have a computer programming background, there’s a reason why the process is called software development rather than simply computer programming. The writing of the actual program is but a small part of the software development process, with many steps both before and after. This makes the developer’s role an incredibly multi-faceted one.
On the surface, off-the-shelf applications seem the obvious choice to get your computer completing the tasks that you need done. But while a person on the street would be silly to pay to have their own spreadsheet application developed when Excel is right there in the Microsoft Office suite, the same may not apply to a business looking to automate a portion of their proprietary process.
Most organizations require very specific tasks to be completed by their computers. And while an off-the-shelf solution may be capable of completing these tasks, they will often do so inefficiently or not as effectively as they could.
More and more organizations are realizing this, and see application development as a real investment in their business. After weighing the higher upfront costs against the greater efficiency and effectiveness that a custom solution can offer, it might be surprising just how quickly a custom developed application can pay for itself.
The development process for computer applications is referred to as the systems development lifecycle (SDLC). It follows a similar path no matter the application being developed, composed of the following steps:
But while the steps of any systems development lifecycle should remain the same, the execution of these steps can vary. There are two methodologies which are most commonly practiced – waterfall and agile.
So, if they cover the exact same steps, how exactly do these methodologies differ?
So application development can either be based on a detailed specification and rigid process, or a general concept and agile process. The decision on which methodology to follow must be made by the customer, in consultation with their application developer.
If an organization chooses to go down the custom application software route, they’ll find themselves at the beginning of a significant process, and one where the light at the end of the tunnel can often be hard to see. But with the rewards being great, it’s a process that the business would be wise to invest as much time and energy as possible.
As an application development customer, there are a few things that can help to make the development process a little easier and more efficient for all involved:
Applications are becoming as integral a part of our lives as eating and breathing, and it seems that their influence is only going to become greater in years to come. In all likelihood, your organization could stand to benefit from a custom application crafted specifically for your situation. A tailored suit always looks and feels better than one off the rack.
If you choose to go down the custom path, understanding the ins and outs of application development can allow the process to run smoothly, and will ensure that the final product is delivered exactly as you need it.
CSG thrives on serving our clients by creating great technology solutions. We are passionate about our craft and believe it’s important to grow as people, consultants, teammates, and engineers. If you have any questions about BI or related technology, please don’t hesitate to ask!