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Software Development Process

A software development process is a structure imposed on the development of a software product. Synonyms include software life cycle and software process. There are several models for such processes, each describing approaches to a variety of tasks or activities that take place during the process.

Overview
A largely growing body of software development organizations implement process methodologies. Many of them are in the defense industry, which in the U.S. requires a rating based on 'process models' to obtain contracts.

The international standard for describing the method of selecting, implementing and monitoring the life cycle for software is ISO 12207.

A decades-long goal has been to find repeatable, predictable processes that improve productivity and quality. Some try to systematize or formalize the seemingly unruly task of writing software. Others apply project management techniques to writing software. Without project management, software projects can easily be delivered late or over budget. With large numbers of software projects not meeting their expectations in terms of functionality, cost, or delivery schedule, effective project management appears to be lacking.

Organizations may create a Software Engineering Process Group (SEPG), which is the focal point for process improvement. Composed of line practitioners who have varied skills, the group is at the center of the collaborative effort of everyone in the organization who is involved with software engineering process improvement.

Software development activities
Requirements analysis
The most important task in creating a software product is extracting the requirements or requirements analysis. Customers typically have an abstract idea of what they want as an end result, but not what software should do. Incomplete, ambiguous, or even contradictory requirements are recognized by skilled and experienced software engineers at this point. Frequently demonstrating live code may help reduce the risk that the requirements are incorrect. One specific method here is Software Elements Analysis.

Once the general requirements are gleaned from the client, an analysis of the scope of the development should be determined and clearly stated. This is often called a scope document. Certain functionality may be out of scope of the project as a function of cost or as a result of unclear requirements at the start of development. If the development is done externally, this document can be considered a legal document so that if there are ever disputes, any ambiguity of what was promised to the client can be clarified.

Domain Analysis is often the first step in attempting to design a new piece of software, whether it be an addition to an existing software, a new application, a new subsystem or a whole new system. Assuming that the developers (including the analysts) are not sufficiently knowledgeable in the subject area of the new software, the first task is to investigate the so-called "domain" of the software. The more knowledgeable they are about the domain already, the less work required. Another objective of this work is to make the analysts, who will later try to elicit and gather the requirements from the area experts, speak with them in the domain's own terminology, facilitating a better understanding of what is being said by these experts. If the analyst does not use the proper terminology it is likely that they will not be taken seriously, thus this phase is an important prelude to extracting and gathering the requirements. If an analyst hasn't done the appropriate work confusion may ensue: "I know you believe you understood what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize what you heard is not what I meant."


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