An innovative, smart idea that slowly turns into a plan is a good claim to success. However, when it comes to the development process, many founders find themselves lost: Where to start from? How to ensure the startup’s success? How to mitigate the risks on the initial startup stages? There are a lot of questions to answer.

The statistics of software development projects that failed is shocking: The Standish Group’s CHAOS report claims that around 66% of software projects fail. With only 34% of projects that became successful, it’s rather frightful than inspiring to create your own startup. But what if you do everything right and become one of the few owners of successful startups?

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From the next paragraphs, you will find out about the software development steps that any founder should be ready to go through.

 What steps does the software development process consist of?

Planning is always important. Chaotic and ill-conceived decisions and actions may lead to failure even before your project is launched. So, how does a software development process start, and how does it end?

  Step 1. Discovery phase

Discovery phase is a theoretical part of project realization that involves collection and analysis of information related to the project, the intended market, target audience, etc. In simple words, it’s a prelude to the development phase. Any good software development company starts the development process with a discovery phase.

It consists of many components, but the main of them are market research, software development plan, and idea validation. They are essential parts of any software project. So, let’s look at them closer:

  Market research

At this stage of the software product development process, a business analyst gathers and analyzes information about the current status of the market segment that you are about to enter, identifies your competitors, their weak and strong sides, as well as ways to outperform them.

 Idea validation

You, your friends, and your colleagues may be sure that you have a truly great idea, but it doesn’t mean that it’s compliant with current users’ needs. Plus, it may not work for the audience you’re targeting. That’s why your discovery team needs to find a strategy to validate your idea. One of the ways to do so is to create an interactive prototype.

The discovery phase may also include the creation of an SRS document, product roadmap, and other deliverables.

  Development plan

Of course, before you kick start the development process, you need to have an idea of how it’s going to start, and how it’s going to finish. That’s why you need to have a development plan as a result of the discovery phase. At this stage, the discovery team should conduct a software development cost estimation. This will allow you to align your goals with the available resources.

The discovery phase may also include the creation of an SRS document, product roadmap, and other deliverables.

 Step 2. MVP creation

Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is the very first version of the software that has just enough features to be estimated by first users. It allows testing the product without investing a lot of time and money in the development. Thanks to that, startup owners can fix all the issues or wrap up a failing project at an early stage.

A standout MVP example is Dropbox, a world-recognized online file storage service. Drew Houston, the founder, decided to create and share a short demo video that explained how Dropbox worked. In result, the number of signups increased fivefold overnight. Drew Houston used an outstanding MVP strategy: it made a product interesting for people without actually launching any product.

Dropbox is just one of thousands successful MVP examples. Many of today’s market giants, like Amazon and Facebook, have also started their way as MVPs.

  How to create an MVP?

The guide on how to build an MVP is similar for the majority of software startups.

  Come up with your target audience

Users that need your product and are willing to pay for it are your target audience. But how to define it? Many people fail to understand who they should target. For example, you are about to create an app related to the restaurant business. What’s going to happen if you target every single person who likes to eat out? More likely, your app won’t be in need among a lot of people. It’s almost impossible to satisfy the needs of people with different tastes, priorities, and desires. But what if you will choose to build an app for vegetarians, or people who don’t consume certain food for religious reasons? These are people with clearly defined needs and preferences.

This said, you should define your target audience instead of trying to attract as many people to your product as possible.

  Clear up the core MVP features

MVP consists of only one or a few functions. For example, if you are about to create a service for photo editing, add only features that can show your platform in the best light in front of your competitors and will solve your target audience’s problems for sure. The rest of the features like various filters, frames, and face masks can be added in the subsequent versions.

  Build an MVP

So, you know what you are going to build and for whom you are going to build. The main rule at this stage is not trying to create a perfect product. Instead, you should try to spend as little time and budget as possible. This is the main idea behind MVP creation: save valuable resources for something that is definitely going to work.

 Collect and analyze the feedback

As your minimum viable product has gone through design, development, and QA testing, it

should be checked by your stakeholders (anyone who will benefit from your product’s success, i.e. software development team, co-founders, etc.) and, of course, first users. The first ones can tell you their opinion from the professional point of view while the users will allow you to find out if there is a place for your product on the market. All the gathered feedback should be analyzed and used for further development.

 Step 3. MVP improvements

The Agile product development methodology claims that “responding to change is over following a plan” (as it’s said in the Manifesto for Agile Software Development). You don’t have to necessarily follow the Agile methodology, but you should admit that it’s important to respond to the needs and expectations of your users.

So, as you know that your product is successful, you can be sure that you can invest in the further development that will allow you to increase the number of loyal customers. At this stage, you should get rid of those features that didn’t show themselves as very useful and improve those features that got the most approval from your users. In addition, if you created a dead simple design for your MVP, you can hire a cool designer and start a software design process again, dedicating more time and effort to the development of a more thoughtful appearance of your software.

  Step 4. Full-fledged software product development

As you create a second version of your software with polished functionality, you can use the received income to make your product more mature and universal: add new features, fix bugs, invest in more sophisticated engineering, make complex software architecture, etc.

You also may need to reconsider your team: maybe the development of a full-fledged software requires more professionals than you have now? Or maybe you even should approach more qualified software product development services?

And don’t forget about the promotion: when your product is mature enough, it can become popular among a wider audience. So don’t be afraid to invest more in marketing.

You can even change the concept of your product as it was done by Amazon, which initially was an online book store and became the biggest e-commerce project in the world.

 Step 5. Maintenance and support

When your project has shown itself as successful and starts to bring income, it’s not the end of the road. The creation of a full-fledged version of a product is not the end of a software product development life cycle.

There are no products that can stay relevant on the market and remain interesting for the users for years without any upgrades. Your competitors don’t sleep, and work on making their product better. You should do so as well. Listen to the requests and complaints of your users, fix errors, add new features, and keep your design trendy and user-friendly if you want to stay afloat.

 Creating a successful software startup

Now, as you know the software development process steps, you can start planning your big project. If you are not sure that you can build the software development process properly, you can hire an experienced project manager that is aware of all the aspects of SDLC (Software Development Lifecycle).