The Importance of System Design in Software Development

If you have decided to create a custom solution for your organization, you’ll find that one of the most important aspects of a successful project is a thorough approach to system design. This can make or break the project, and it can add a lot of time and budget if it’s not done correctly the first time (or at least before implementation starts). 

The first part of this process is typically the discovery 

This is the phase where we work to understand the requirements of the project we’re building. This doesn’t mean you just ask the IT department what needs to be done (unless the IT department is the only user of the system). It is crucial to talk to the stakeholders in all aspects of the business that will use the system, as well as the IT department and executive stakeholders. These are just some of the questions that need to be answered: 
  • What does the user interface need to look like? What does it need to do? 
  • Who is the target user and what type of device will they use to work with the solution? 
  • Is it desktop only? Mobile? Both? Android? iOS? 
  • ​Will a user management system be needed?  How about an asset management system? 
  • Will it need to send push notifications? What about email? 
  • Will the client be updating the content of the solution regularly?   
  • Is a shopping card needed? One time purchase or subscription? 
  • Data sources – do they exist, or do they need to be built? 
  • ​Is this going to be deployed to the cloud or is this going to be deployed on premise? 
  • Are there servers, network, data storage, etc. in place to support this solution? 

This is just part of the nearly infinite list of questions that influence the design of the solution. Why is this important? Technology can be complicated (as if you didn’t already know that.) If you don’t have a thorough understanding of these points, it is unlikely that the work will be seen as a success.  

There are a number of technology trade-offs that can impact system design. Some of the most common are as follows: 

Cost. Sometimes, technology decisions are made based on what is most cost-effective for the project overall. 
Efficiency. Technology tradeoffs can occur based on efficiency for a part (or parts) of the system design. 
User experience and support. The amount of support and documentation regarding a specific technology can impact trade-offs. 
Maintainability. How easily a product can be maintained when it comes to errors, bug fixes, and adding new features is a contributing factor.  
Reliability. Technology that performs well consistently is often chosen.  
Scalability. Technology that has the ability to handle increased loads efficiently, without a break in system efficiency, can result in a trade-off.  
There are many ways to do almost anything from a technology standpoint. However, you want to make sure that the technologies you choose are going to accomplish your goals and work together efficiently and effectively. That’s the magic of a well-designed system. 

There was a time when software engineers pretty much needed to create everything from scratch 

They had to code every line of every feature. Fortunately, that’s no longer the case. Now, there are different platforms created by designers and software engineers, which are packaged and sold, or in the case of open-source platforms, given away to other developers to use. This has made software engineering both simpler and more difficult in certain respects. 
These platforms do a lot of the heavy lifting as far as setting up the project, like having pre-coded libraries of features, functions, and plug-ins that developers can use on the platform to accomplish specific actions. This makes developing a project a lot more efficient because a lot of the foundational work is done. This also makes it possible for solutions to be much more sophisticated and complicated than they were before.   
Every platform doesn’t necessarily play nice with every other platform. They are built from different code bases and standards and although they may be written in the same “language” they may not really talk to each other. When you consider how many different aspects there are to a large project, you can understand that sorting this out at the beginning is critically important. 
Not all projects will require so many different technologies to work, but large or small, it is necessary to confirm that all the technologies needed to accomplish all of the goals will work together. It is important to figure all of this out before you start implementation because a mistake in system design can result in a lot of code having to be ripped out and reworked. This is going to put a big dent in your budget and cause of lot of frustration for everyone involved in the project.   

System design is a crucial step in the custom software development life cycle 

There are several things that can be done in the development process to reduce the likelihood of encountering any major issues or surprises. Creating and implementing the right system design for your project is just one of these steps. At Bit-Wizards, we work to make sure all the pieces are going to work together properly, and all the goals of the project are accomplished, before we start building. Contact our expert team today.  


Darin Smith, Project Manager
Darin R. Smith

Project Manager

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