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When does the development life cycle end?

The “development life cycle” is a way of managing the development and implementation of software, websites, and web applications. It can be implemented in countless ways but some of the most popular methods are System Development Life Cycle (SDLC), Prototyping Model, Rapid Application Development Model, Component Assembly Model and my favorite, Agile System Development Life Cycle (SDLC).

So whatever development life cycle you choose, where does it start and where does it end? In my opinion it starts with market research: What does your audience want and need and how can you help them? If you keep your customers at the forefront, and their wants and needs, you will end up with a product that they will enjoy using. Once you find out what they want, you can then begin to brainstorm on how to create a product, application, or website that meets those needs. Then determine what your budget is, and then how you will design this product. This is when the development team can start their work. Meanwhile the marketing team can begin to market to the potential customers, getting them excited about the upcoming product, or, if you don’t want to advertise it before it’s ready, work on researching the market more to find out how to cater to your audience.

I prefer the agile development life cycle, where testing is done throughout the whole development process.  Scott Ambler wrote an excellent blog about it. He has some great diagrams in his blog that speak more than a thousand of my words can. I recommend you go take a look at it.

After you’ve developed the product, using whatever development cycle you’ve decided on and you’ve tested it thoroughly, what is next? Do you think it’s ready for your customers? Are you 100% happy with it and feel comfortable releasing it to them? Great! Then release it, and elicit feedback from your customers. Keep track of all the feedback–the positive feedback is pats on the back–job well done! What areas do they like the most? Hone in on these and make plans to keep those features and maintain them. Negative feedback? Keep track of these–put it in the pile of “improvements that need to be made”. Now begin planning how you can improve these weak areas!

So does testing end once you’ve released to the customers? In my opinion, the answer is no. I believe a company that is rooted in customer satisfaction is going to continually test their products, finding hidden bugs hopefully before the customer, and discover new ways to improve it. Once you have a good set of improvements that can be made, develop an update, go through thorough testing, release the update, elicit feedback and start the process over again.

Now obviously a tester can’t spend their life testing one product, but a couple hours a week on each product you have can go a long ways in seeking to improve the product, flushing out potential bugs, and keeping feedback coming in on weak areas. As long as your customers are using your product, shouldn’t you too? If you’re getting annoyed with something, or bored with it, do you think your customers are? These are questions to ask yourself. If you’re producing a web application, or website, these are even easier to constantly update and keep fresh — software takes a bit more work, since it requires a release cycle.

I am passionate about testing–it is what I live and breathe and for anyone who is also in love with testing, thinking outside the box in terms of the development cycle, release cycle and testing process is key to taking the development life cycle to the next level!

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