When you're rushing to bring your software to market, it can feel counterproductive to slow down for the Solution Design phase. But consider this: investing a little extra time upfront could save many developer hours and project budget down the line. So, take a moment to understand why the Solution Design phase is the unacknowledged hero that has saved numerous projects in software development.

The advantage of understanding business needs

A deep understanding of business needs is the first step to a successful project. Many people think that the developer’s main responsibility is coding, but that's not entirely accurate. The main responsibility of a developer is to solve a business need in terms of technical possibilities. Without an in-depth understanding of the business context, developers become mere executors. In contrast, developers well-versed in your business can propose smarter, more efficient ways to achieve your goals and leverage their expertise to your advantage.

Catching inconsistencies and risks early

A major part of Solution Design involves discussing the software you plan to build, segment by segment. This process enables the business analyst and project manager to catch any inconsistencies, conflicting requirements, or risks early on. Addressing these issues now will prevent delays, budget overruns, or - worst of all - whole segments of the project needing to be redone in the future. The Solution Design phase produces a clear roadmap and a risk management plan, setting the course for the rest of the project and reducing time and budget risks.

Additionally, the importance of investigating potential technical difficulties early, especially in the case of integrations, cannot be overstated. Discovering previously unnoticed limitations of an integration in the middle of a process could be very costly in terms of both time and budget.

Planning the work

Why do many projects require extensions of time and budget? Here are three main causes: unclear project goals, ineffective resource allocation, and overlooked task dependencies. All of these issues can be addressed by working on a proper project plan. However, it is impossible to create a decent project plan without gathering requirements, understanding the business needs, and identifying user scenarios during the Solution Design phase.

And last but not least: why should you invest time and money to have all of this if you're already paying for the project? The answer is that the Solution Design phase equips you with a comprehensive plan and understanding, allowing you to start the development phase immediately. Whether you choose to work with our team, present the results to other teams for a different quote, or build the solution in-house, you get the freedom of choice.

What is the Solution Design phase?

Here at Sednor, we’ve developed a clear Solution Design structure, and we’re ready to share it with you. Let’s take a look at it step by step:

  1. Gaining an understanding of business context. First, we arrange a meeting to go through your business needs, understand the background behind the decision to create a software solution, and outline basic user scenarios. This helps us to share a vision of the software as a solution for your specific business needs.
  2. Requirements elicitation for each expected feature. We conduct several meetings to discuss each expected feature and brainstorm the best solutions. The goal of these meetings is to ensure the software will have consistent logic and no discrepancies.
  3. Prototyping. Based on the collected requirements, our team creates an interactive prototype — a simplified version of the planned software solution — that you can explore and test. This allows you to get a feel for the final product, identify features you love, and suggest changes you'd like to see.
  4. Creating a detailed roadmap: With a clear idea of what we’re going to create, we'll map out the journey to get there. This roadmap will outline the tasks, milestones, and timelines involved in the software development process. By clearly determining what needs to happen and when, we ensure that everyone's on the same page and moving in sync towards a successful deployment.
  5. Risk management plan: We develop a backup plan to overcome or mitigate obstacles that might pop up during or after development, based on information gathered during requirements elicitation and the business context overview. This proactive approach minimizes the chance of unexpected hiccups slowing down the process and ensures a smoother ride towards achieving your software goals.

Deliverables of the Solution Design phase

At the end of the design phase, you can expect the following deliverables:

  1. Wireframes: Visual representations of the application's layout and structure.
  2. Application Design: Detailed designs for the application's user interface and user experience for critical functionality.
  3. Suggested Tech Stack & Architecture: A document outlining the recommended technology stack for the project.
  4. Infrastructure Architecture Diagram: A diagram that depicts the application's infrastructure architecture.
  5. User Flow Documentation: A document that describes the expected user journeys and interactions within the application.
  6. Development Phase Proposal: A proposal outlining the scope, timeline, estimated costs, and key activities for the subsequent development phase of the project.

With these steps and deliverables, we bring simplicity and accuracy into the Solution Design phase. It’s all about working together to make sure your software project kicks off on the right foot and keeps striding towards success!

Common questions

Why can't we skip the Solution Design phase and start coding right away?

Skipping the Solution Design phase might seem like a way to save time and get to coding faster, but it often leads to more significant issues down the line. Without a clear understanding of the business needs and user requirements, the project can face numerous problems such as inconsistent functionality, integration challenges, and the need for major revisions. This phase helps identify and mitigate risks early, ensuring that the development process is efficient and aligned with business goals, ultimately saving time and resources.

How does the Solution Design phase help in managing project costs?

The Solution Design phase helps in managing project costs by providing a clear roadmap and identifying potential risks and technical challenges early on. By having detailed wireframes, application designs, and a suggested tech stack, the project team can estimate the resources and time required more accurately. This proactive planning helps prevent unexpected expenses that could arise from scope changes, rework, or technical difficulties encountered during the development phase.

What if our business requirements change after the Solution Design phase?

It is common for business requirements to evolve, and the Solution Design phase is flexible enough to accommodate changes. Deliverables like wireframes and user flow documentation provide an adjustable foundation. The detailed roadmap and risk management plan help the team adapt quickly without derailing the project. Continuous communication ensures alignment with evolving needs. Moreover, the Solution Design phase supports Agile methodologies, offering a solid starting point and project overview. This approach facilitates iterative development and continuous improvement while maintaining a clear vision and structure.

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