The cycle of software development – what is worth knowing when recruiting in IT?
Testing, production, maintenance, architecture – these words certainly sound quite familiar to recruiters specializing in IT. Well, “quite” familiar. But is it enough to be good at your job? Definitely not! The best recruiters on the IT market, with whom I had the opportunity to work, always had one thing in common – they knew and understood technical aspects very well. That is why today I will introduce you to some professional terminology and useful tips for IT recruiters.
Software Life Cycle – what is it?
The life cycle of software is actually the whole process that software goes through – both at the stage of development and use. It defines the general steps that are taken by software development teams to create software. It indicates the stages from the moment a general software/application idea is formed to the moment it is in use. Based on this model you can very easily understand the different roles in the IT world, from product managers to software engineers to testers.
Often during testing the software is improved and the whole process goes through the same steps again. Of course, we can come across different models with similar or completely unknown names. All of this depends on the specifics of the product as well as the activities of the company creating the software. That’s why teams using the Waterfall methodology work differently, and different for iterative or EVO models. The most important thing is simply the logic that has to be followed to understand what really “stands” behind the code. Where do we start from?
How is software developed? The first step is to define the requirements. It is defined by experienced specialists who support themselves with market research and analysis of the competition. Information collected during the analysis is used to plan the whole project, conduct a feasibility study or risk analysis. Business Analysts or Product Owners are largely involved in this stage. After planning the project, we start to define the value of our product, also by defining its target group. Having this information, software architects can “transfer” it to the virtual world by designing the functionality of our application.
Examples of roles: Project Manager, Product Manager, Business Analyst
The design phase takes us to the part related to the creation of our product. This is where the decisions related to the user interface are made. What colors we will use, how we will design the appearance of the application. Where will the header be displayed and will we add variety to it with animation? What moves will the user make when he starts the application for the first time and where will he look for a given function? What will the login button look like and where will it be located? At this stage you will also choose the programming language that best suits your application. We will also discuss other technical aspects – such as databases and servers. All these elements have to be determined in advance due to the size of the application. The portal, which operates on a huge scale and is visited by more than one billion users per day, is designed differently from a mobile application fulfilling a single function. Facebook, for example, is a very powerful application with hundreds of functionalities – that is why many technical aspects make it different from e.g. a website for a small SEO agency, whose main functionalities are based on a price calculator for customers and a contact form.
Examples of roles: Application Architect, UX, UI designer
The implementation phase is the time when we start writing the program at full speed! Sometimes it will be a project done from scratch with a completely new code (then we are talking about the so-called green field development), sometimes you can use elements from other, existing applications (then we are dealing with the so-called legacy code). Programmers specialize in different programming languages, so we can divide them into front-end (JavaScrpit, HTML, CSS, React.js, Angular etc.) or back-end (Java, Scala, C, C++, C#.net etc.). Sometimes Full Stack Developers are also sought after – those who can code both on the client side and administer the server or database. Each application has a defined technological stack, which should be adjusted to the main assumptions of the software.
Examples of roles: Software Engineer, Programmer, Java Developer, Frontend Developer, C++ Developer etc.
The next step is the testing phase. This is a great moment to make sure that the system works properly. The application must be tested from many angles – functionality, optimization or performance. This is especially important if the product is to work on a larger scale. We also have to make sure that the software meets the security requirements. Testers will check if the functionality and interfaces work properly. They can use manual (user testing by “clicking” on the application) or automatic tests (tester creates the code to test the application).
Testing is also carried out by users while using the software. Thanks to the feedback, the product can always be improved and better adapted to the needs. Often after a “bug” is detected, we go back to the previous step, and the code is corrected.
Sample roles: QA Specialist, software tester, manual tester, automation tester
Deployment is the phase in which the software is ready for operation. After carefully planning how the application will work, coding and making sure that the software is working properly, the software “goes into production”. What does this mean in practice? Simply put, users can already use the application. At the beginning of this stage, users can catch small errors, which can be reported and corrected on an ongoing basis.
Applications or websites, for example, also change and are improved. This can be seen on the example of the well-known Facebook, which looks different today than 5 years ago. This is natural, because technology is developing, new functionalities are appearing, the image of companies or design trends are changing. Thanks to innovations all other products and services are also developing.
The last phase is the maintenance phase, i.e. the phase when the application is already running. It is used by users, we can see that it fulfills its functions and we are satisfied with the whole product. However, we cannot lose our vigilance – the application can still break down. In the case of web applications, something can work badly on specific browsers, the software can also fall victim to malware or hacker attacks. Over time, when an application is used by too many users, for example, there may be a problem with server load. Then you need to fix it, returning to the actions taken at the right stage of the software development cycle (depending on the error/problem). Often the applications will not require much intervention from programmers, because the errors will be quite easy to fix. Sometimes it is even enough to explain to the user in a simple way how he or she can deal with the problem. Then it is enough to use the help of support teams.
Examples of roles: Support Engineer, Support Line I, Support Line II, IT Support.
The software life cycle is a great starting point for IT recruiters who want to understand the specifics of a programmer’s work. It shows in a very clear way what steps are taken from the moment of application planning in theory to the moment when the application is fully “mature”. While preparing for the talks with Hiring Managers it is good to think about which part of the “chain” is the role we are recruiting for. This knowledge gives us a significant advantage. Thanks to this knowledge, despite different names or slightly different scope of tasks, we will be able to understand the profile of candidates faster and easier. We hope that this information will be helpful for IT recruiters.
We recommend that you also check your entry on how to determine priorities in remote work.