The Four Fundamental Phases of Effective App Testing

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Whether you're developing a mobile app, an app for desktop, or a web application, there are four phases of the development process -- Inception, Elaboration, Construction, and Transition.

These steps have to take place no matter what design process you use or whether you opt to develop in-house or via a software development company. Most importantly, these steps can't be skipped over or skimped on. Each phase is a critical process for assuring that your finished application is something worth the time, money, and effort you're spending on it.

These steps are known collectively as the Unified Process, which is essentially a framework for software application development that has been in place since the late 1900's. Though the basic phases of the process have been tweaked a little since first developed, the essential framework of the Unified Process remains the same.

The process is trustworthy and productive in creating viable applications, even 16 years after it was developed -- which is saying a lot in the filed of technology, when a single year can bring about numerous new technologies and techniques, and the phase-out of many others.

Here are the four fundamental phases of application development, identified and explained.

The Inception Phase of Application Development

Inception is the onset of the project, where the business tries to establish a case for the need that exists for the application and its potential viability as a sustainable project. The primary goal, or milestone, to be achieved during the Inception phase is to establish the life-cycle objectives of the application.

All of the stakeholders need to agree on the need for the app and on the purpose it will serve. The high-level requirements of the app need to be established, and the business case needs to be strong enough to justify the costs (in terms of time, effort, and money) of development.

The Inception phase of the process also involves establishing the scope of the application, that is, what will the completed system be able to do and exactly what purpose(s) will it serve? What objectives will this application accomplish during its life cycle? All of the stakeholders need to be in agreement on the answers to these questions before the Inception phase is said to be complete.

The Elaboration Phase of Application Development

The second phase is Elaboration. The main goal to be achieved during this phase is to establish the ability to develop the app within the designated constraints, including the budget and schedule, as set by the stakeholders. In order to achieve this milestone, the team will need to thresh out the scope of the application, determine the architecture of the app, identify the risks involved in the process, and determine how to mitigate those risks.

The Elaboration phase also involves laying out the business case for the application, justifying the cost and effort it will take to develop, establishing the development schedule the team will need to adhere to, and determining level of quality of the application-to-be.

At the end of the Elaboration phase, the app should be endowed with a stable architecture. The architecture will have proved that it is able to support the key functionality and performance of the application. The majority of the functional requirements of the application will have been captured, most of the risks associated with the development of the app will have been mitigated, and sufficient details are established to guide the next phase of the development process. The team will also have produced cost and scheduling estimates for the next phase of the development process.

The Construction Phase of Application Development

The end of the Construction phase will have produced a viable app that is ready to undergo beta testing. During this phase of app development, the team delves into building the system iteratively (moving in repetitive steps) and incrementally (moving in increments, or one step at a time), assuring that the system is viable and executable.

The primary mile marker for completing the Construction phase of development is called Initial Operational Capability. Essentially, at the end of this part of the process, a group of beta customers has a fully-functional application in their possession and are in the process of actively testing the app under real-word circumstances.

The Transition Phase of Application Development

At the end of the Transition phase, you will have a fully-tested, completely functional, software application. The beta testing not only identifies bugs that weren't caught before, it is also a valuable process for fine-tuning the user interface and assuring that the features and functionality of the app are what users are looking for.

The Transition phase involves making all of the changes and corrections indicated by the beta testing (including fixing the bugs, tweaking the user interface and navigation, adding critical features, etc.) and rolling out the complete and fully-operational application to the end users.

During this phase, the development team works on correcting problems and making modifications to the application to address problems that weren't obvious previously, but which have become apparent during the beta testing phase (which is why this part of the process is so critical). The Transition phase is the final phase of development and culminates in the release of the fully-functional app.

No matter what style of development your team uses, these specific steps are always evident in some form during the application development process. Even if these phases are called by different names or described somewhat differently, the concepts are still there.

These processes are used to develop desktop apps, mobile apps, and web applications. Are you ready to undertake the phases of application development and deliver an app that's sure to produce a return on your investment? You can request a pilot project now to see how this process goes and how your business can end up with a top-notch application quicker than you think possible.