All the Key Steps of Software Development: An Essential Guide for Startups

steps of software development

Startup life can be tough, especially when it comes to managing complex software development processes. Sure, your development team has ideas – lots of them. But, it’s hard to know where to start – or what steps even need to be taken – as you embark on implementing your roadmap.

But fear not: with our decades of combined experience in the field, we’ve got all the answers for streamlining your software development process! It turns out that mastering software development doesn’t have to be rocket science after all (which is a good thing considering you probably don’t have any astronauts on staff).

In this article we’ll take you step-by-step through the major action items required for a successful launch – from gathering feedback to user testing, bug fixing and more – so by the end you’ll have a comprehensive guide with all the essential information needed for an effective software development workflow.

So grab your caffeine of choice (or cocktail, no judgment here!) and let’s get started!

Table of Contents

Benefits of Properly Planning Your Software Development

Planning is key when it comes to software development – the impact of a properly planned process can be transformational for any company. By taking the time upfront to map out the details, you avoid common pitfalls such as unnecessary costs, schedule delays or unexpected surprises that can derail a successful outcome.

So, let’s have a look at the main benefits of planning your software development:


Improved Quality: Proper planning helps to ensure that the software product is developed according to user requirements and specifications.

Reduced Risk of Failure: Planning helps to identify potential risks associated with the development process which can be avoided in advance, thus reducing the risk of failure during development.

Increased Efficiency: By having a well-defined plan for software development, teams can work more efficiently by focusing on specific steps and tasks at any given time instead of being overwhelmed by all steps involved in developing a successful software product from scratch.

More Accurate Estimation of Costs & Timelines: Having an effective plan allows developers to better estimate costs and timelines needed for completing each step so they can allocate resources accordingly without wasting valuable time or money on unnecessary steps or tasks within their project scope.

Enhanced Team Collaboration & Communication: A proper planning process encourages team collaboration and communication as it clearly defines steps, roles, responsibilities and expectations for everyone involved in the project’s success – from stakeholders to developers to testers and more!

Ready to reap all these key benefits and more? Let the experts at turnkey help you build your dream development team.

Major Steps of Software Development for a Startup

Software development is an essential process for any startup looking to create a successful product. To ensure that the process is efficient and successful, there are several major steps of software development every startup should consider, including:


#1. Formulate your key development requirements

Building the perfect software package is no easy feat, especially with a startup or high growth company. It all starts with formulating initial requirements – these steps can seem daunting as you want to make sure everything is ironed out before investing any time or energy into further steps. This important phase will define the success of your startup’s software and ensure it functions as well as possible. And while this might take some sweat and tears – and plenty of collaboration – in the end, it will certainly be worth it. 

For best results, make sure to analyze user needs and research competitors before determining the best course of action. Taking shortcuts when it comes to project requirements will only give you headaches down the road, so make sure to do it right the first time!

#2. Define your software development methodology

You have a range of software development methodologies to choose from. Each model has its own strengths and weaknesses, so it is important to take some time to understand which model would best fit your specific requirements.  The most popular ones are:

The Waterfall model is a popular process model that is often used for projects with fixed requirements and a large-scale budget. This method involves breaking down the software development process into distinct phases, each of which must be completed before moving onto the next phase. The benefits of this model include increased control over quality assurance, as well as better communication between different teams involved in software development such as designers, developers, and testers.

The Agile model is arguably the most popular process since it focuses on iterative development and continual improvement. This methodology encourages teams to work collaboratively in order to quickly deliver quality products by using short sprints or cycles. The benefits of this approach include faster response times for customer feedback, and the ability to quickly adapt to changes in the project’s requirements.

The DevOps model is a combination of the Waterfall and Agile models, and emphasizes collaboration between development and operations teams. It focuses on automation of processes to make it easier for teams to work together efficiently, as well as improving communication between different stakeholders. The benefits of this model include increased speed of delivery, improved efficiency of operations, and faster resolution of bugs.

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The V-Shaped model is another well-used software development methodology. It follows a linear progression and focuses on verification, validation and testing. During each phase of the process, the requirements are analyzed, features are designed and tested, and code is written. In this model, the emphasis is placed upon ensuring that the system works correctly before any new features are implemented.

The Spiral model is great for teams that aren’t willing to take too many risks with a big project. It’s a conservative model that requires more steps in the development process, making sure everything is secured and organized from start to finish. 

Rapid Application Development (RAD) is a more flexible approach – as modifications can be done even after the project has started. This allows it to adjust quicker and more easily when changes need to be made mid-project. 

Each approach has its own benefits but depending on your team and timeframe, you can decide which one works best for you.

#3. Validate the idea and estimate budget

Idea validation and estimation plays an integral role in the software development process. It is important to ensure that the idea or product being developed is feasible, within budget, and able to meet any requirements or expectations. 

Project estimation helps to accurately determine the amount of time and resources needed to bring an idea or project to completion. 

Requirements and feasibility analysis helps to ensure that the project meets any requirements, such as user experience and customer expectations. 

Business modeling helps to assess the potential financial impact of a new product or service and identify any areas where additional investments may be necessary. 

Finally, risk management helps to minimize or reduce the risks associated with any given project by identifying and addressing any potential issues early on in the process.

#4. Create an MVP (Minimum Viable Product)

Creating an MVP is a crucial step in the software development process. It is the version of a product that contains just enough features to satisfy early customers, and to provide feedback for future product development. There are three main types of MVPs: clickable prototypes, concierge MVPs, and full-fledged MVPs.


Clickable prototypes are the earliest version of an MVP, and are often used for user testing. They can be created using simple tools like Balsamiq or InVision, and contain basic wireframes and clickable elements to simulate a product interface. These prototypes allow developers to gather feedback from early users before investing in additional development. 

Concierge MVPs are slightly more complex than a clickable prototype. They usually involve an actual product, but with limited features and a reduced set of users. For example, an MVP for a food delivery service may include only three restaurants and be available to only 10 customers. This type of MVP allows developers to learn how their product would work in the real world. 

Finally, full-fledged MVPs are the most complex type of MVP. These usually involve an actual product with all its features, and can be tested on a wider audience of users. This allows developers to collect much more valuable feedback, which can then be used to refine their product and create a better version. 

Creating an MVP can be a very time-consuming and difficult process, but it is essential for creating successful products. It not only helps developers learn more about their product and its users, but also allows them to make changes quickly and effectively. MVPs provide a great platform for experimentation and iterative development, which leads to better products that are more likely to succeed in the market.

#5. Test your prototype

After an MVP has been built, prototype testing allows stakeholders to understand how users interact with the product and its features. This process can uncover any issues that should be addressed before launch, as well as provide insight into what further refinements can be made. 

By testing a prototype, designers can uncover any usability problems and refine the product to ensure it meets users’ needs. Doing so can save time and money in the long run, as more costly mistakes are minimized. 

Additionally, user feedback from prototype testing can help inform future design decisions and inform marketing strategies for launching the product. Ultimately, by taking the time to test prototypes, businesses can ensure their products are well-crafted and optimized for success.

#6. Architect the software platform

The Software Design stage defines the architecture of the system, along with the major components and their interactions. It covers how data is represented and stored in a database, which software tools are used to develop it, what algorithms are used for calculations, how errors should be handled, etc. Furthermore, this stage includes the development of a user interface that enables users to interact with the system. The user interface should be intuitive and easy to use. 

Additionally, the Software Design stage should include the development of a testing framework that allows developers to test the system in various scenarios and catch potential bugs before they become an issue. 

Finally, this phase also includes documenting all decisions made during the design process so that future maintenance is easier. Once the software design is complete, it moves on to the implementation phase.

#7. Build the software!

The coding stage is arguably the most critical step of software development; it’s what actually allows the idea to blossom into a functioning reality. It involves taking the design created in the previous steps and generating lines of code that will bring it to life. Sure, there may have been plenty of steps before this point that seem essential, but without this step, you’re missing out on putting all those plans into action.

#8. Testing and deployment

After all the hard work of the steps of software development prior, you get to the good stuff: testing and deployment! There’s nothing quite like finally getting to see your project implemented in the real world – but it would be silly of us to rush into it without testing first. A product must be tested for errors and cybersecurity threats before launch so that users can trust it, both with their data and reliability. It’s definitely not a step to gloss over; besides, why not have some fun playing around with your own work?

Finally, you’ll deploy your product with confidence. After all that work, the only thing really left is seeing the result: happy customers who can benefit from your creation. Pop those bubbly bottles open; you earned it!

#9. Software maintenance

Just when you thought software development had to come to a close, it turns out this is just the beginning. Software maintenance is an essential step of the software development process, as it ensures all new features work as expected and any existing issues are properly addressed. It also allows developers to offer reliable customer support and patch up any security vulnerabilities. 

Take it from us, if you rush the steps of software development only for your customers to realize there’s a lack of maintenance in place, their trust in your product can easily go out the window.

How TurnKey Can Help You Build the Absolute Best Software Development Team

We know the process of software development all too well––it’s a familiar dance of moments of clarity and joy interspersed with moments of pain and frustration.  Which is why we set out to build TurnKey: to give you more joy and less frustration.

Indeed, prior to founding TurnKey, our co-founders experienced a wide range of pain points when building their own SaaS based companies, including hidden costs, expertise gaps, long recruitment times, shady vendors, lack of customization and low productivity. 

They came to the common conclusion that if you want something done right, do it yourself! Our founders managed to organize and optimize remote product teams in different parts of the world and overcome all of these headaches. So if you’re feeling like you’re going around the same loop trying to get your startup moving quickly without any help, let us take away your worries with TurnKey’s Yourshoring model. 

With our Yourshoring approach, we take the guesswork out of finding the right development talent. Whether you’re looking for a specific skill set or experience in a single industry, we custom hire the dedicated development teams who can transform your development process.


If you want to build an awesome software development team that is completely customized to your needs, we’ve got you covered.

Why is SDLC essential for the software development process?

The Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) is a framework that outlines the steps and processes involved in the development of software. It is essential for successful software development because it helps organizations plan, design, develop, test, deploy, and manage the entire life cycle of a software product. SDLC ensures that all stakeholders are on the same page throughout the process, ensuring that any issues or changes can be addressed quickly. Moreover, SDLC also provides direction to developers by setting expectations and deadlines which leads to a better quality end-product.

What is the best software development process model for a tech startup?

The best software development process model for a tech startup is Agile. Agile is an iterative approach that breaks down software development into small, manageable chunks called sprints. This allows developers to make quick decisions and rapidly respond to changing requirements. It also encourages continuous feedback from customers, allowing teams to adjust their plans in response to customer feedback. Agile allows organizations to move quickly, making it ideal for tech startups who need to develop innovative products in a short time frame.

How do you accelerate the software development process?

Accelerating the software development process can be achieved in several ways. One way is to use automation tools to streamline processes and reduce manual tasks such as testing and debugging. Additionally, modular programming can be used to break down complex tasks into smaller, easier to manage components that can be worked on independently. Finally, leveraging cloud-based infrastructure can enable teams to collaborate more effectively and speed up delivery times.

March 4, 2023

TurnKey Staffing provides information for general guidance only and does not offer legal, tax, or accounting advice. We encourage you to consult with professional advisors before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business or legal rights.

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