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Programming is only part of the picture

When people without a background in software development think about building a mobile app, web application or cloud service, they think that hiring or contracting a software engineer will get the job done. This isnt the case. There are many skills that are required for the software development process to be the most effective.

The main skills or team members that are required for software development to be effective are software engineering, project management, business analysis and quality assurance. On bigger projects a software architect is also required and a designer might need to be on the team if the software needs to look good.

Software engineering

Software engineering writes the actual code, they build the software and integrate with other systems. Project management manages risks and timelines on the project. They are also responsible for communication within the team and ensuring everyone on the team knows what they need to be working on.

Business analysis

The business analyst translates the requirements of whoever commissioned the project, usually someone non-technical like a manager, marketer or business operations person, into a detailed description of the system to ensure that when the software engineers build something it is with what the project commissioner wanted.

Quality assurance

Quality assurance then matches what the software engineers build with what the business analyst described. A software architect provides direction and a vision of how the various components of the software system need to fit together. Finally, the designer converts the wireframes produced by the business analyst into visually satisfying screens for the software engineers to implement.

It is usually difficult for one individual to wear each of these hats at any one time. For example, when the software engineer is writing code it is difficult for them to also keep in their minds the risks and timelines of the project and be managing them effectively.

Without each of these roles the software development project will most likely fall apart. A project with only a software engineer will result in missed deadlines, unmet expectations (they will build something that the project commissioner did not want), poor quality, poor design and without a clear technological vision.

Scott Middleton is the CEO of Terem Technologies, a custom software development company based in Sydney, Australia. Terem focuses on developing software for innovative companies and high-tech ventures.

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