What Is Software Development?

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Have you ever thought about how much technology you encounter on a daily basis? Recent studies reveal that the average UK citizen spends 6.4 hours online on one device or another each and every day.

With smart devices taking over our homes and workplaces, we encounter software without even realising it. But how is this software developed?

Software development helps take a concept and turn it into a reality. Every piece of software that you use on your smartphone, tablet or laptop has been created by a software developer.

Every website you visit will have undergone website development. Software engineering is everywhere in our modern society. The world needs software engineers to help us remain connected at all times.

Let’s take a deeper look at the role of software engineering in software development.


{Types Of Software Development}

There are several different types of IT software development. It’s so easy to just think of software as being something that we interact with on a computer, however, there are pieces of software behind so many different electronic and mechanical devices. Software development can, therefore, be quite easily be overlooked.

Software is used to drive so much of the technology that we see around us that we take for granted, so much so, we may not realise that a piece of software is present in a device. It’s used in factories, cars, watches, TVs, and these days even your kitchen appliances may need software to help them run.

Software application development

Whether you’re needing a bespoke piece of software to help you with financial systems, or you’d like to automate the production of a machine used in a factory, you’ll need a piece of software to handle the task for you.

Software application development is a broad area that covers the creation of apps that can be used on any device running a variety of different operating systems.

Website development

There are currently over 1.5 billion websites on the internet. All of these sites will at some point have been worked on by a website developer. Even homemade websites built using pre-designed themes will have had to have the hands of a website developer touch them at some point.

For many businesses, websites are fundamental to their operation. It’s essential that the development process for websites is thorough. A website may be the beating heart of their company and its design and build need to be robust.

Website design and the development of software for some companies are viewed with the same level of importance as architecture or construction.

Mobile app development

There are 3.8 billion smartphone users worldwide. This accounts for nearly half the population of the planet. For many people, their smartphone is one of their most important possessions. According to Google, the average smartphone user will have 35 different apps downloaded on their device.

Mobile software application development has become a serious industry. Whether you’re looking for apps to kill time with or pieces of software that make life easier, there’s always plenty of choices out there. But more and more apps are created every day.

Mobile application software development follows the same design lifecycle as any other form of software development.

Very often, a mobile app is developed in conjunction with a similar piece of computer software designed around operating systems such as Windows or Linux.

System software

System software governs a computer and the way that it’s run. It is the operating system upon which all other pieces of software will need to run. System software will also control any peripheral devices that will be plugged into the device such as printers, cameras, or scanners.

Some examples of system software include Windows or Linux on your computer, as well as Android or iOS on your smartphone.

Operating systems will go through the same lifecycle stages as any other piece of software. Once they have been rolled out to market, they will undergo continued evaluation and system updates will be rolled out periodically to amend and perfect the software.

Embedded software

Devices that use software are everywhere. From your home hub that controls your heating and lighting through to the system in your car, there are lots of instances of embedded software.

Embedded software development is, therefore, a big industry. All of these devices need software. It is the job of software development teams to create the apps that help power these devices.

Many people overlook devices that don’t appear to have a user interface as not requiring software, however, software development is still required to govern the way that these machines operate.

Data science

This is an interdisciplinary field that utilises algorithms, processes, and scientific methods to gain insight from structured and unstructured data. This information can be applied to actionable insights.

Data science is a major industry and it is one that is continually growing the more and more we accumulate digital information.

To handle the wealth of data used in this field, software engineering teams are tasked with creating applications and databases that will make the processing and handling of the information easier.

Security software

Security is always going to be a concern. Whether you’re looking to create computer software that can be run in your office, or you’re looking for a more complicated application that will control machinery and systems, you’ll need to ensure you’re protected from all of the security issues that might affect you.

One of the more important elements found in software development processes is penetration testing. This will ensure software stands up to any potential attack. All software should consider security and maintain it at its core.

But in addition to this, all of your systems should be running dedicated security software such as firewalls or antivirus applications. All of these pieces of software need to be designed, tested, and deployed in exactly the same way as any other piece of software.

Cloud computing

These days, storing your data locally is considered to be a thing of the past. Cloud computing allows users to save their files remotely on the cloud. This lets the user work using that data from wherever they are in the world. Cloud computing allows for flexibility in the workplace while providing greater security.

With such a surge in cloud computing use, more and more software developers are required to help design and build the software systems that make up the cloud as well as the applications that will interact with the cloud.


The blockchain is something that has grown significant relevance in recent years. The blockchain is a particular type of database which is most commonly found in the use of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin.

The way that the blockchain is different from a standard database is in the way that it stores information. Data is retained in blocks that are chained together. As a new piece of data is added, it enters into a fresh block. Once completed, a block is chained to the previous block. This makes a chain of data that runs in chronological order.

There are many types of information that could be stored using a blockchain, however, the most common use is as a ledger in transactions. In the case of Bitcoin, the blockchain is a decentralised ledger that ensures no one person or organisation has complete control. Instead, all of the users will have collective control.

The data entered in the blockchain is irreversible. In the case of Bitcoin, these transactions are recorded permanently and can be viewed by anyone.

With the use of blockchain technology continually on the rise, software development teams are involved in creating software that interacts with it.

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{Do Software Engineers Only Specialise In One Discipline?}

There are several different types of software engineers. Most notably a full-stack engineer or a specialist software developer.

A full-stack developer is someone that understands the front end as well as the back end of the code, whereas a specialised developer will specialise in one or the other.

In some organisations, a software engineer will work on a particular element of the software development lifecycle. In other companies, the whole lifecycle will be carried out by the engineer or team of engineers.

{The Software Development Process}

The software development life cycle, or SDLC, is a project management model that outlines the stages required to bring a concept to fruition.

The software development life cycle can be broken down into seven fundamental stages; planning, analysis, design, implementation or development, testing, deployment, and maintenance.

All software development methodologies make use of the software development process.

1) Planning

Planning plays a vital role in the software development process. Mistakes that are made during these early stages can be very costly to correct as the project progresses.

Our team of software developers will work closely with you to ensure that the requirements for your project are well-defined and achievable from a technical standpoint.

This stage is also referred to as the feasibility stage. This part of the development process is one in which the developer will plan their project. During the planning stage, the problem that requires solving will be defined and existing systems will be evaluated. Objectives will be set.

By clearly setting an effective outline, any issues that may hinder development should theoretically be caught.

The planning process is also an opportunity to source funding and resources that will help turn the project into a reality.

The schedule of the project is also determined in the planning stages. Making sure there is a clear timeline for progression will help ensure deadlines are met and the software is ready to be sent to market or rolled out in the workplace by a set time.

With our Fast Track service, we can help your business with the project planning, requirements specification, as well as the validation process. We’ll take your specific goals and turn them into a document that defines what will be needed to successfully achieve your objectives.

2) Analysis

The next stage of the custom software development process involves gathering up all of the information required for the new system. This step also involves gathering ideas for initial prototypes.

During the analysis stage, a developer may define the system requirements for the prototypes, look for any existing prototypes and evaluate alternatives to these, and then carry out the necessary research that analyses the needs of the user.

A developer will create a software requirement (SRS) document. This will include any specifications required for the software and hardware, as well as any network requirements.

3) Design

Before the main development stage begins, the design stage is required. During this step, the software engineer will create an outline for the overall software application. They will also specify certain aspects such as:

  • Any system interfaces.
  • Any user interfaces.
  • The system and network requirements.
  • The databases the software will draw from.

At this stage in the lifecycle, software developers will turn the SRS document that they have previously created into a logical structure that can then be implemented later into a programming language.

In addition to this, the developer will draw up plans for the operation and maintenance of the computer software, as well as any training plans that are required.

At the end of this stage of the cycle, your software development managers will have prepared a design document that can be used as a reference tool throughout the stages of the SDLC that follow.

4) Implementation

The implementation or development phase of the software design process is where the software engineers will actually write all of the programming code required and set to work on building the application. This will be based on the outlined specifications determined in the previous stages.

Static Application Security Testing (SAST) tools will be used at this juncture.

Because all of the software development code for the computer programs will be built based on the specifications of the design document, the actual process of developing the software should be quite straightforward.

All of the software engineers working on the software will do so following coding guidelines which will be pre-determined for them. They will make use of a variety of different tools such as software development software, debuggers, compilers, and interpreters.

5) Testing

The testing process is a crucial step in computer software development and is one that should never be overlooked. Software testing is designed to measure the quality of a software product so that defects can be identified and improvements can be made.

New code is tested using a range of different tests including both functional and non-functional testing.

Functional tests ascertain whether a piece of software is able to perform and provide any expected functionality. This is sometimes known as ‘utility’ testing and is the most frequently used form of testing.

There are several key non-functional tests that a piece of software must undergo before it’s ready for deployment.

  • Security testing: This type of test will ensure that the software is able to withstand any internal or external attack. With cybercrime being so rife, it is essential that the software is robust and free of vulnerabilities.
  • Performance testing: This is essentially a test to ensure that the software is fit for its purpose. Does the application run at the speed that it is either expected or required to run?
  • Load testing: Software needs to run under continuous load. For this reason, it will need to undergo load testing.
  • Scalability testing: If you were to increase the load that the software is subjected to, how would it fare? Rigorous scalability testing is needed to ensure the software doesn’t crash under pressure.
  • Disaster recovery testing: If your machine or device suffers from a system failure, how will your software or application recover after this? Disaster recovery testing is required to ensure the software can recover from any setback
  • Break testing: During this element of the software development process, software engineers will try to break the software. They might do this by giving the software multiple incorrect commands. This helps software developer find any weak points in the application which needs further work.

All too often, software engineers will overlook important elements of the testing process when resources and time are restricted. The testing process should be regarded as one of the most important elements of any software development life cycle.

6) Deployment

Once the testing stage has taken place, and all of the issues that this has brought up has been rectified, the application can move into the next stage in its lifecycle; the deployment phase.

At this stage, training documents will be drawn up and the software can be handed over to the end-user or sent to market.

7) Maintenance

Just because a piece of software has been released onto the market or deployed for use, it doesn’t mean that the SDLC process is over. Developers will next move onto the maintenance phase. During this stage, the software development team will help resolve any issues reported by the software’s end-users.

In addition to this, there may be changes that are required to the software after it has been in use for some time. A developer will be responsible for ensuring these changes are made.

The common changes required of the software engineering team may include patching residual bugs that may not have been picked up before launch or tackling new issues that have cropped up. Generally speaking, the larger the scale of the application, the longer the maintenance stage will last.

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{Final Thoughts}

What is software development? Software engineering is a process that takes an idea for an application or a piece of system software from an initial concept right through to market and beyond. The lifecycle of software development will see the application rigorously tested and maintained after its launch.

The role of a software developer sees the research the specific needs of a project as well as the planning and implementation of the actual application. The developer can work alone or as part of a wider team. The length of the software development lifecycle will vary depending on the scale of the project.

In today’s society, software development is of great importance, although when it is carried out well, will appear to be seamless and invisible.

If you’d like to learn more about how we develop software at SD:UK or would like to get expert guidance for your next software project, speak to our team today. Schedule a call, or call us on +44 0845 544 4055.


With so many benefits, from saving development costs to receiving access to specialist software, software development outsourcing is more than worth it. Not only will you save money on expenses, but it will also free you up to focus on your business’ growth.

The outsourced team will handle almost all project development themselves, so you will only need to manage larger decisions. It can also help free up any other managers in your business, which any business manager can appreciate.

If you plan to work on a large software project in the future, or even just a smaller set of patches, consider hiring a software outsourcing company!

There is a range of benefits to hiring a software developer or outsourcing your project to an external development team. If you are looking to save money and worry that your business does not have the resources for a large project, outsourcing may be best suited for you.

However, if you want to ensure you have full control over a project and finances aren’t too much of a worry, an in-house software developer may be the right call.

Try to weigh up the pros and cons of each before making a final decision. It can be difficult to know exactly which is better suited to your project, but discussing possible options with your development team can be a great way to decide.

Much like hiring any external service, the first step is to find a team that is right for your outsourced software development. By using our handy guide above, you should have no issues doing this!

Once you have found a team right for you, you will want to negotiate the cost, show them what you need and discuss whether this is feasible. If possible, then a contract should be created that allows the outsourced company to handle your development for you.

The cost of outsourcing a project to an external development team will vary depending on what is required and how large the project is. Larger projects will, of course, cost slightly more than small-scale software, and the same goes for a specialist program.

Typically, you can expect an outsourced project to cost you anywhere between £20 to £75 an hour, depending on the developers’ skill. This is cheaper than hiring a full-time in-house developer, but it may not be what your company needs.

Communication during the whole process will be key to your budget. You will already have agreed on rates, but knowing whether the project is running to schedule is essential.

By being kept up to date through each step of the process, you will pinpoint any potential problem areas that may lead to costs spiralling out of control. Outsourcing does not mean an abdication of responsibility, and there will still be areas of project management that will need to be adhered to.


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