We often saw plans failing in movies. Something unexpected would happen, and the protagonists would find themselves in a hard spot. And when the audience thinks there’s no way ahead for the protagonists, they pull out their trump card or a plan B. Audiences are surprised and elated by the move, and everything goes the way it should.

All because the protagonists planned accordingly.

Yes, proper planning always works, and it is the same for software development. Software development planning (SDP) is a vital part that can produce your desired results from the go when done correctly.

This blog covers all aspects of SDP, like the purpose, objective, things to include, creating one, etc. And to give you a better understanding, we will also be discussing the topic with an example, the development of a streaming app.

Table of Contents

What is Software Development Plan?

A software development plan, also known as software development strategy & SDP, is basically the plan that outlines the entire software development process from its inception to the end.

So when considering the example we took, it started from the idea of creating a unique streaming app. And then came proper market research, competitor analysis, prototyping, etc.

With an SDP, you will be able to iterate every step involved in the development process of such an app. And also, the plan will include the entire project timeline, including the developers, the methods used, the time frames of each step, costs and resources required, etc.

Purpose and objective of a Software Development Plan

Purpose

      • Provide effective communication with the development team and the stakeholders during the software development process.
      • Track the utilisation of the available resources by the project managers.

Objective

To provide the framework for the entire software development lifecycle.

This way, the development team and the team members can better understand what they are developing, the process included, and the problem they are trying to solve.

What Should be Included in the Software Development Plan?

Define the goals

When defining your goals, specify and clarify your intention and vision for the product. With a clear and concise description, both you and your client will be able to foresee the tentative date on which the product will be delivered.

So, when considering our example, i.e., the streaming app, your goal will be to create a streaming app that provides commercial-free quality content, the best user experience, and an impeccable design.

Research and discovery

Research in-depth about the project in hand and try to fully understand the scope of the work, the required resources, and all the software development life cycles to have a better hold on what your end product should be. You can turn to stakeholders, team members and can even use the user stories.

So, while creating a software development project plan for a streaming application, you should consider the features to include providing an appropriate user interface for better user experience, choosing the desired platform it should run on etc.

Documentation and requirements

Once you have decided on your goal, it’s time to list out the requirements for the development process. And by documenting the required resources for software development, time and budget, you will be able to outline the entire work process that needs to be completed.

Again, coming back to the example, consider the features you want to include in the app, understand the tools, programming languages, etc. needed, the type of developers, plan the cost to develop your streaming app and finally, the time required to finish it.

Document each to get a clear idea of the work done at each stage.

Budget

You have included the necessary MVP features for your streaming app and is in the stage of creating an MVP for your streaming app. You found your wallet-thinning halfway through the production process, and there is not enough to finish the MVP.

You certainly don’t want to be in this position. That is why it is essential to plan your budget. And by creating the perfect software development plan, you will be able to understand the process included, the necessary tools etc. and design it accordingly.

User stories

Picking the right software development methodology is another critical step. There are several methodologies, and you have to choose the one that fits your software development.

Thinking about what this has to do anything with user stories? Well, consider our example. Agile software development is widely followed while creating an app. And the key component in this agile framework is the end-user.

User stories, therefore, are an essential software development requirement, and this is what helps your team understand what they are building, why, and also the value the product has for the end-user.

The above five components should be included in a software development plan. Keep these in mind as we dive into the steps on how to create an SDP.

Steps to Create Your Software Development Plan

1. Picking the right team

During the documentation part, you will get a basic understanding of the work needed, required resources and the required skills. Hiring the right developers for your software project is the key.

When developing a streaming application, you want experienced developers who understand the requirements of such an app. When hiring such developers, they can help you prioritise the features, choose the right tech stack, etc., and avoid unnecessary expenditures.

Hiring an outsourcing partner will be the right choice for your software development.

2. Developing plan approach

If you are outsourcing, sign a contract with the vendor and cover details like the commencement of the project, the payment term, etc. They will take care of everything else.

Whereas, when your team is in charge of development, your software project planning should kick off with a team scrum, during which responsibilities and tasks are delegated among the team members.

The development phases start from designing & prototyping to building an MVP (which is considered the best path when developing a software product) to improving the MVP and creating the final product.

MVP development

3. Creating a timeline

Once you have delegated the work and responsibilities, it is time to create a rough outline of the software development life cycles. This way, the team members will get an idea of the software development and their involvement in it from top to bottom.

When taking our streaming app, the flow of the process will look like the following:

software development plan timeline

With this timeline, the resource allocated, and the planned budget, you can determine a tentative deadline for each software development milestone and ultimately complete the project.

Draft the outlined timeline, and submit it for review for the entire team. Consider any suggestions from your team members like extending the tentative deadline, any other needed software development requirements, etc. This can help you avoid unnecessary pitstops during the development process.

Create your Software development plan. You can use a spreadsheet or even a Google doc to create one. The important thing is to involve everything we have just discussed.

4. Sprint meetings

Creating a software development plan isn’t the last. Software development is more prone to change than any other, and for that reason, your SDP has to be flexible. And you can manage it with the help of sprint meetings.

Sprints are a boxed set of periods during which a scrum team works to finish a set amount of work. And to have an effective software development plan in hand, try and include the following during the sprint cycles.

      1. Planning the sprint work
      2. Determining the sprint period
      3. QA and testing
      4. Fixing the bugs found during QA and testing
      5. Considering stakeholders’ reviews

Implement an agile framework and schedule sprint meetings to make sure the development process is in sync with the tentative schedule. This will also help you ensure that the team doesn't go off track from the intended goal and vision.

A parallel run of QA and testing during the development process can help find and remove as many bugs/problems as you can. This way, you can save time and will be able to produce an error-free software product on the go.

Risks to Avoid While Creating a Software Development Plan

Software Development Plan Risk Infographics
Also Read: How to Manage Risks in Software Development

Software Development Planning Templates and Examples

There are 6 major types of software development plan templates.

      1. Simple MS project template
      2. IT/Software project template
      3. Excel-based project template
      4. Simple excel template
      5. Agile project template
      6. SAP project plan in MS project

The templates mentioned above are free and widely available on the internet. If you want something more professional, then try following Gantt charts,

You can download the given template and get a rough idea of what a simple excel template will look like. We have incorporated all the basic needs and necessities and the required steps for developing a mobile application.

Software development plan template

Takeaway

Planning a software development project is as important as developing the software. So, take your time and make sure you have included everything that we just discussed in the software development plan.

Creating such a plan can seem like an arduous task, but a well-written plan template can be used for other software development projects as well. Check out how the product development process works, and start planning.

We recommend using the Agile framework for your development plan because it focuses on users. The framework has helped us increase our productivity and efficiency, and helped us build many user-friendly software products.

We have taken a streaming app as an example to help you better understand the SDP. And you must have already gotten a rough idea of the processes that go into developing such an app and its timeline. If you are thinking about the budget, then here is an overview of how much it will cost you to develop an app like Netflix.