How to Conduct the Design Phase in Software Development?

How to Conduct the Design Phase in Software Development

Are you interested in exploring the design phase in the software development life cycle?

In this article, we are going to discuss this in detail.

What is a Design Phase in Software Development?

The software development life cycle (SDLC process) consists of all the stages involved in the entire process of software product development. 

SDLC process is an important software engineering concept that helps software developers to gather requirements, design, test, deploy, and maintain a software product efficiently and according to the users’ expectations.

The design phase is an essential step in the systems development life cycle. It comes after the requirement gathering phase. It helps to meet the requirements decided in the requirement analysis phase. 

The output from the design phase help in the next stage of the development process which is coding implementation.

Next, we will see in detail how your design team can conduct the design phase in software development.

How to Conduct Design Phase in Software Development Process?

The design phase in software development consists of the following stages:

Set Design Objectives and Goals

The first stage involves defining design goals. The main end goal of a design phase in the software development life cycle is to finalize the software requirement specification (SRS document) from previous phases in the form of a system design specification document. 

This document should cover all aspects of the software development including functional requirements, non-functional requirements, security risk planning, disaster recovery planning, etc.

A design phase in software development can include multiple deliverable documents for better communication and collaboration between different design and development teams.

Some of these deliverables include a security plan, operations, and maintenance plan, disaster recovery plan, etc.

Once the design deliverables are approved by the stakeholders and project managers, the software developers can start the software development process.

Create a Team and Set Roles

The following roles are required to carry out the design phase in software development effectively:

Business Analyst

For providing business development requirements to the design team and reviewing the design phase deliverables.

Technical Architect/Software Designer

For designing system architecture, software features, etc.

Software Developer

For assisting designers in finalizing software architecture plans, etc.

Tester

For helping designers and developers in defining software test plans, reviewing software design, etc.

Project Manager/CTO

To review design plans and finalize development and testing strategies.

Project Stakeholders (project sponsors/Clients, etc.)

They sponsor the software development projects and approve the final design and development strategy.

Initiate Design Activities

The software development team and project stakeholders actively participate in the design phase. Software developers are consulted to ensure the feasibility of the design solution and stakeholders deliver their expectations to the software developers and designers.

Some important decisions to make at this stage include:

Procedure Decisions

  • Prototyping to improve a proposed design.
  • Selection of tools and methodologies to develop software.
  • Planning of user support.
  • Determining strategies for identifying and handling new risks, etc.

Execution Decisions

  • Analysis of current development procedures and identification of required modifications.
  • Analysis of current databases and information systems including the necessary modifications.
  • Understanding of data and the required data conversion strategy.

Maintenance Decisions

  • Determining development activities in the later design stages based on new requirements.
  • Determining required resources for later stages of the software development life cycle.

Perform Risk Management Activities

Some risk management activities are performed periodically during the design phase in software development. These activities are:

Identification

At this stage project manager and the team identify all the potential risks that can appear in the beginning or throughout the project stages. The characteristics of each risk are determined during this stage.

Risk Analysis

A detailed analysis is done for each of the identified risks. It includes all the scenarios a risk can take place in.

Response Plan

The development of risk mitigation and avoidance strategies.

Monitor and Control

The process of defining methods to track risks, determine new risks, execute risk management plans, etc.

Revalidate functional and non-functional requirements

At this stage, the project manager again reviews functional and non-function software requirements to ensure that the scope of the software project has not changed during the design phase. 

The team revalidates the FRD (functional requirements document) created in the previous requirement analysis phase. This ensures that the user’s perspective is preserved in the selected design solution.

Develop System Design Document

A system design document or SDD is created to map the decided system requirements to technical implementations. 

It defines the development details of each feature of the system, the interaction of each software module with each other and external systems, interfaces for users to interact with the software. It also includes the documentation relating to all data transfer protocols, etc.

The design document contains all the details including hardware resources, software development environment, database solutions, file components, etc. 

Different diagrams are used to explain these technical implementations such as data flow diagrams, class diagrams, behavioral diagrams, context diagrams, user interface designs, etc.

Update Test procedures

Test cases and methods are improved and updated as the software design matures. Testing plans are developed for the unit and integration testing phase. 

These test plans are created to check that all parts of the software are working as expected and meet all the planned requirements. 

The plans for the testing phase are developed by the development team and quality assurance team and approved by the project manager and CTO.

Develop Security Plan

A security plan is developed under the supervision of the project manager. A comprehensive security assessment is done including potential threats, vulnerabilities, and risks. 

A detailed security plan discusses strategies to avoid and mitigate these threats and decides the required security measures. 

At this stage, the development team should also go through all the industry standards and government security policies to build a completely compliant software product. 

Develop a Disaster Recovery Plan

A disaster recovery plan defines procedures to restore the functionality of the system in case of some unexpected interruption event. 

A disaster recovery plan also includes procedures to identify and define disaster scenarios, outage time, alert notifications, recovery activities, damage assessment methods, etc.

Plan System Implementation

The development team starts planning the development tasks at this stage. This includes documenting the required resources including technical staff. 

The required technical skills are accessed such as knowledge of the software development environment, problem domain, development tools, etc.

The implementation plan also contains all the required information to successfully implement a software system in a production environment. 

Plan Operations and Maintenance Procedures in design phase in software development

At this stage, the development team documents the system administration and operations manual. The maintenance manual helps in the smooth operation of the software system after deployment. 

It contains the information necessary to maintain a software system effectively like backup, connectivity, authentication, etc. It is developed by the project manager and is usually approved by the CTO.

A user manual is also developed to help users in understanding the developed system. It helps users understand how to access and use the system efficiently including alternate operation modes, different features, etc.

It is prepared by the development team and approved by the CTO.

Conduct Design Reviews

Periodic design reviews are conducted by the project manager. These design reviews are for ensuring that the functional requirements, performance requirements, security requirements, etc., are being met.

The reviews are conducted for the architectural design of the software system, design of the subsystem modules, or a detailed design analysis of architecture and software components such as databases, etc.

Perform Phase Closure Activities of design phase in software development

The following activities are performed by the project manager and development team to finalize the design phase in software development:

  • Review of cost expenditure for completing the software project.
  • Estimation of project completion and delivery date.
  • Review availability of required resources.
  • Planning of subsequent software development cycle stages.
  • Review of the current status of design activities and verification that the design solution is following the approved specifications.

The approval of design phase deliverables and to move on to the next software development phase mark the end of the design phase in software development.

Final Thoughts

The design phase in software development is an important stage that ensures the successful implementation of the software project. 

The decisions taken in the design phase regarding development technology, frameworks, software and hardware architecture, etc., play a significant role in the final shape of the software product.

A lack of detailed design can adversely affect the implementation and operation of the software solution according to the stakeholders’ and users’ requirements. 

Due to this reason, successful businesses actively invest in a comprehensive design phase in software development through professional software designers. If you are looking for experienced software designers and architects, DevTeam.Space can help you.

You can get in touch via this quick form describing your software project specifications. One of our technical managers will contact you to further discuss your project design and connect you with software designers experienced in designing similar market-competitive software solutions.

Top FAQs on Design Phase in Software Development

1. What is the design phase in software development?

The design phase in software development is to determine the software and hardware architecture of the software product according to the requirements specified in the initial requirement analysis phase.

2. Why design phase in the software development cycle is important?

When done right, a detailed design solution in the form of documents, diagrams, and prototypes, helps the software development teams to successfully implement the decided software design. Moreover, the design phase helps to plan software security, operations, and maintenance methods within the available resources.

3. How to implement the design stage in a software development project?

Start implementing a software design by forming a competitive custom software development team. Your technical design team will develop design documents describing high-level and low-level requirements. They will also map out security plans, disaster recovery plans, software maintenance plans, etc.

4. What are high-level design and low-level design documents?

High-level design (HLD) describes each software module, its functionality, dependencies, and interfacing with each other. It also includes the architecture diagrams of databases and the used technologies. Low-level design (LLD) focuses on the detailed functional logic of each module, their inputs, and outputs, description of database tables, software error messages, etc.


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