The digital transformation has forced many organizations to extensively rethink their previously practiced ways of working. This can only be achieved in a comprehensive transformation process to make the organization more agile and able to react quickly to customer needs and market changes.
A key component of this transformation process in the digital transformation is the focus on quality in relation to software development and holistic testing throughout the software development process. This raises the question of how agile teams, regardless of their role or experience level, can best be supported to successfully manage this organization-wide change.
Improve quality and efficiency of the software development process
The following aspects play an extremely important role in software development and must be considered in a holistic approach to improve the quality and efficiency of the software development process:
- Software development process
- Software-Development Process
- Application Lifecycle
- Product development process
- Software Product Lifecycle
- Continuous Delivery/Deployment Pipeline
- Agile development process
- DevOps process
- Iterative development process
The processes listed describe different aspects of the software development process and its life cycle.
What defines the software development process?
The software development process includes the planning, development, deployment and maintenance of software.
What is the importance of the software development lifecycle?
The software development lifecycle refers to the entire process from requirements analysis to software deployment and maintenance.
What is meant by application lifecycle and product development process?
Application lifecycle refers to the lifecycle of an application after deployment and maintenance.
The product development process is a broader term that encompasses all phases of the process, from idea generation to product development to deployment for internal use within the company, organization, or as a software product to the marketplace and maintenance.
What role does the software product lifecycle play?
The software product life cycle describes the life cycle of a software product, from conception through development, sales, deployment and maintenance to technical obsolescence, software that no one wants or should use anymore, if only because of technical shortcomings.
IT Security and the Software Product Lifecycle
With the technical obsolescence, now – in the age of cybercrime – the factor of IT security is visibly finally moving more and more into the focus of companies.
The implementation of IT security measures in the software product lifecycle is becoming increasingly important, as software products are often the backbone of companies today. Only by adding effective security checks and tests to the development process can vulnerabilities be identified and addressed early, reducing the risk of security breaches. This is also of great importance with regard to legal requirements such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Implement security measures effectively by integrating them into the development process right at the start
To effectively implement these security measures, it is important that they are integrated into the development process from the very beginning. One way to do this is to promote an IT security culture within the team and to consider security-related aspects as an integral part of the Definition of Done.
Adopting DevSecOps practices that involve the security team in the development process from the beginning can also ensure close collaboration between development, operations and security.
Security as a key component: Integrating IT Security into the Software Product Lifecycle
Insecure software can lead to data leaks,costly downtime,avoidable litigation and irreparable reputational damage. It is therefore crucial that IT security is integrated into the entire software product lifecycle.
Practical examples of cybercrime cases in Germany with quantified damage amounts:
As those responsible, we need to make that very clear to ourselves once again. The best way to do this is to consider the risks and impacts.
Here are just a few examples of cybercrime cases in Germany with the amounts of damage quantified in the reports:
- 2023: Ransomware gang Lockbit attacks logistics service provider of Zalando, here over 250 gigabytes of data records are said to have been stolen.
- In January 2021, the pharmaceutical company Dr. Willmar Schwabe was the victim of a hacker attack. In the process, data was stolen and damage amounting to several million euros was incurred.
- In December 2020, the German software manufacturer Software AG was the target of a ransomware attack. The damage was estimated at around 80 million euros.
- In September 2020, the online retailer notebooksbilliger.de became the target of a hacker attack. In the process, customer and employee data was stolen, resulting in damage of around 1.2 million euros.
- In 2019, the company Citycomp was the victim of a hacking attack in which about 50 terabytes of data were stolen. The damage was estimated at 50 million euros.
- In the same year, automotive supplier Gedia suffered damages of around 10 million euros from a ransomware attack.
- In 2018, the German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) warned companies against becoming the target of an attack by the Emotet Trojan. The damage was estimated at several million euros.
- In 2016, Deutsche Telekom was crippled by a DDoS attack that caused massive disruptions to the network. The damage was estimated at several million euros.
It should also be noted that many cases of cybercrime are not even reported or the damage is not publicly disclosed, so the cases mentioned are just the tip of the iceberg.
Avoidable risks through proven countermeasures
There are various approaches to this, such as the use of security-by-design principles and penetration tests in the development process, the implementation of security guidelines and IT risk awareness training for employees, and the continuous monitoring and updating of software systems by means of IT security monitoring.
IT security must also not be neglected when implementing agile methods and DevOps processes. It is enormously important that security is included in the planning and implementation from the very beginning in order to identify and eliminate possible weak points at an early stage. For example, IT security experts can be deployed in the agile team or security checks can be performed as part of the continuous delivery process.
Overall, IT security must be seen as an integral part of the software product lifecycle and ensure that all people and processes involved understand the importance of security and act accordingly.
The Continuous Delivery/Deployment Pipeline is a process where software is continuously tested, integrated and automatically deployed. The agile development process is an iterative approach where teams work in short agile cycles and regularly adapt to meet the needs of the customer.
The DevOps process refers to collaboration between development and operations teams to accelerate and automate software development and deployment. An iterative development process with directly connected deployment and delivery is a proven approach in which a product – analogous to prototyping – is developed and tested in short cycles, with feedback being obtained and implemented on a regular basis.
Strategies for agile team transformation
One of the first challenges is to create awareness of the importance of testing and quality in all phases of the software delivery process.
A key approach here is to meet employees where they are by making them aware of their needs and their specific challenges and offering them guidance. Creating guidelines can also be helpful to establish a common ground and clarify expectations. Pairing can be another effective tactic to share knowledge and experience within the team and improve collaboration.
Focus on quality control: Regular reviews for optimal test and quality standards
To ensure teams are on track and continuously improving the quality of software and software-based digital services, it is critical to implement regular reviews of testing and quality standards.
Through regular reviews, potential problems or bottlenecks can be identified and eliminated at an early stage. These qualitative checks provide an opportunity to assess progress, verify compliance with defined quality standards, and identify opportunities for improvement.
During reviews, all relevant stakeholders, including testers, developers, and product managers, should be involved. Together, they can analyze the current status of testing and quality measures, share best practices, and exchange experiences. This promotes collaboration and helps to ensure that the team involved all develops a common understanding of the importance of testing and quality.
In addition, regular reviews also enable early adjustment of the test strategy and priorities to respond to changing requirements or new findings. This continuous improvement increases the quality of the product in the long term and minimizes the risk of quality problems.
By establishing regular reviews as an integral part of the testing and quality process, the team gains valuable insight and can take timely action to continuously optimize quality. It is important that these reviews take place in an open and learning environment where constructive feedback is encouraged and improvements are developed collaboratively. This proactive approach enables the team to continuously develop its skills and methods and maintain a high standard of quality throughout the software product lifecycle.
Practical tips & recommendations for digital transformation
Digital Transformation with Large-Scale Agile Frameworks, which are practical process models and directly usable recommendations based on real project experiences of countless IT projects.
The typical problems and issues that project participants and stakeholders face during digital transformation will be discussed. Agile prioritization is regularly a challenge for all involved.
You will learn how to define clearly defined goals for the digital transformation of your organization and thus actively shape the change to agile ways of working. In doing so, the importance of agile processes and the Large-Scale Agile Frameworks will be detailed step by step.
All relevant agile concepts and basic terms are explained. The Action Design Research method provides you with a modern approach to practice-oriented problem solving in organizations.