Custom Software Development

Software Development Standards: Best Practices and Strategic Considerations in Development Standards

Software development standards are sets of rules and guidelines for software developers to follow when building custom software development projects. These should be in line with global, regional and industry-specific development standards. Software development standards are decided by international organisations tasked with their establishment and maintenance. They cover all the processes involved in writing computer programmes and developing other kinds of software, like website platforms and mobile app development.

These software development and testing standards are collaboratively created and agreed upon by top experts in the field from across the world. Together, they comprise a best-practice development formula; a common approach for developers to follow.

There are three main organisations responsible for broadly three categories of software engineering:

  • International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO)
    The ISO sets the global standards and acceptance criteria for software development to ensure high quality, reliability and software safety. ISO standards also provide guidelines for ethical practices and sustainability in the software development industry.
  • International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC)
    The IEC is a non-profit organisation that provides a constantly updated standardisation platform for technological innovation, infrastructure maintenance and development, and sustainable energy use. This enables businesses to develop and market consistently reliable and safe products across the world. Its conformity assessment systems determine the quality of all software, systems, services, installations and devices, and certify suppliers accordingly.
  • Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
    The IEEE creates international standards in the broader IT and telecoms industry. Among other things, it standardises networks so that computers and users can interact with each other. In addition, it provides a central source of standardisation for new technologies as they emerge.

Software Development Process Conformity Assessment

The IEC has a Conformity Assessment Board that is tasked with supervising IEC assessment of conformity to safety, efficiency, performance, reliability and durability guidelines when developing software. It also assesses the potential environmental impact of the proposed software product. The IEC is empowered to test and inspect software for conformity verification.

Why Do We Need Software Development Standards?

Software development standards provide a well-defined working framework that promotes the creation of high-quality, reliable and secure software. The abovementioned organisations thus help to ensure that software meets customer expectations and complies with global standards. By only using certified developers who use these software development processes, businesses can improve customer satisfaction, grow their reputations in their markets, and avoid any penalties for non-compliance.

Standards for software engineering create a framework with guidelines for developers and development teams to follow, enabling them to deliver successful projects that meet all the necessary requirements.

This includes all the software life cycle processes, including development, implementation and distribution, security, and maintenance. These are some of the most important areas where software engineering standards are relevant:

Code formatting guidelines

All good software developers need to format their source code for optimal performance. Code formatting guidelines improve readability, to help developers identify individual procedures and code execution modules in the source code. These guidelines assist software product developers in applying best practices like naming conventions, proper line indentation, code snippet spacing and explanatory code commenting.

Security procedures

Secure coding methods are more than mere guidelines. They protect the end product from unwanted intrusion, by helping to ensure that the software doesn’t contain any code vulnerabilities that can be exploited for nefarious purposes. This isn’t only about applying the latest security upgrades and patches – it also prevents input validation, pre-screens for potential threats, and ensures proper error handling. If errors aren’t processed and resolved securely, they can also create points of vulnerability.

Bug discovery and issue resolution

Good software is bug-free by definition. If it doesn’t work as desired and function smoothly, you’ll struggle to get internal user adoption if it’s an in-house system, and your customer satisfaction will plummet if your system is client-facing. We all know how frustrating it is to use buggy software, like when a mobile app crashes your phone. A web platform that doesn’t work properly is one of the best ways to drive away potential customers and lose existing ones.

Developers use bug tracking and issues resolution tools that follow the guidelines set by the software development standards organisations. This includes ways of detecting and logging bugs, prioritising and assigning them to the right people for fixing, and tracking the issue resolution to ensure that the bug has been removed properly.


Code documentation is a critical part of software documentation, and it’s very important to emphasise, as developers often consider it a chore that takes away from their development time. However, an experienced developer understands that documentation is vital to ensure ongoing software engineering standards.

The documentation should be comprehensive. It needs to encompass all aspects of the software project, including the software design, the coding architecture, and how to modify the programming. This allows other developers to quickly and easily make changes, and ensures that these conform to both the project requirements and the global software engineering standards.

The Benefits of Software Development Standards

Conforming to global software engineering standards isn’t only a case of ensuring software compatibility and interoperability, although that is a very important consideration. It also conveys other benefits:

  • Software quality management – the standards provide consistent development methods that create predictable software performance, free from security vulnerabilities and bugs.
  • Consistent coding standards and methodologies – this makes it much easier for developers to collaborate on different aspects of the software, and for new developers to take over existing tasks without difficulty.
  • Common practices improve communication – when everyone is on the same page regarding coding practices and standards, this improves communication levels and effectiveness in a development team where people are working on different activities.
  • Excellent scalability – by creating a commonly understood software framework and code structure, standards make it easier to expand or scale projects, as everyone is working in the same way according to the same development principles.
  • Reduces technical debt – expert programming that produces high-quality code with low maintenance requirements can help reduce your technical debt. These are the costs you would incur to make fixes or changes after your software has been delivered. Using developers who follow the prescribed standards can significantly reduce them.

The Pulsion Commitment to Software Development Standards

Whether it’s a piece of add-on software that your business needs to upgrade a single system or complex end-to-end enterprise software engineering, we apply all industry-specific standards to each software project. Our development teams are highly experienced and have detailed working knowledge of how to use ISO standards in software development.

This in-depth knowledge and technical expertise help to ensure that your software systems are developed to the highest requirements that the international standard establishes. This not only creates the quality, stability and reliability you need in your software products – it also ensures that your software system is fully compliant with global software engineering standards, including security and accessibility.

Our in-depth approach encompasses the full project lifecycle. We place great emphasis on close collaboration with our clients, and on providing an end-user experience that increases productivity, customer experience and return on investment. We partner with the world’s leading technology suppliers, like Microsoft and Amazon Web Services.

ISO / IEC / IEEE Standards for Software Development

Having established the importance of software engineering standards, let’s have a look at the most pertinent ones in a bit more detail.

Software Life Cycle Processes: ISO/IEC 12207 and ISO/IEC 15288

Two slightly different standards apply to the overall software development process. ISO/IEC 12207 sets out the processes to be used throughout the software life cycle within a project or an organisation. ISO/IEC 15288 is less specific, as it covers the processes used in any human-made system. These days it’s rare for the two processes to be separate, so these guidelines usually overlap and are thus typically applied in tandem.

Software Measurement Processes: ISO/IEC 15939

The Software Measurement Processes standard establishes criteria for measuring all the activities that the software is designed to perform. It provides developers with guidelines on what tasks to measure, how to measure them, and how to analyse the results. Different measurements may be required by different types of software and are also be determined by the environment in which they are deployed. The maximum acceptable volume of source code is an example for a particular type of software is an example.

Software Functional Size Measurement: ISO/IEC 14143

Software Functional Size Measurement standards are used to determine the overall size of the software application. This enables the right software project management activities to be embedded in the development. It also helps to create the optimal user experience by making sure that all the functional requirements are clear, so that the UX designers and software developers know what usability elements to prioritise. Its other standards prevent code bloat by counting the number of lines of code. Wider considerations are also addressed, such as use-case-based size measurement, which determines all the necessary elements of the use cases the software is designed to fit, and how many of these there are.

Software Testing: ISO 29119

ISO 29119 for Software Testing is the group of standards that provides best-practice guidelines for software engineering. Its core focus is on risk mitigation and risk avoidance. It provides a full set of principles governing testing documentation and plans, plus test definitions and concepts. This includes recommended testing techniques, such as keyword-based testing. This risk-based approach highlights the key software aspects that developers should focus on to protect and enhance your most critical business functions.

Information Security: ISO 27001

The purpose of ISO 27001 for Information Security is to keep company assets and IP safe through enhanced security procedures. By using an ISO 27001-accredited development company like Pulsion, you can rest assured that the company’s data and other proprietary information will be protected for the duration of the software life cycle, including post-implementation maintenance and changes.

These secure coding practices and oversight standards cover areas like:

  • Risk assessment
  • Risk mitigation
  • Design incorporating information security management
  • System performance evaluation against security benchmarks
  • Corrective action implementation

Software Quality Standards: ISO 5055

ISO 5055 is the set of standards that focuses directly on testing the internal structure of a software application using four business categories: reliability, performance, security and maintenance ability. By assessing the software through these lenses, its dependability, resilience and trustworthiness can be ascertained.

The Software Quality Standards ISO 5055 allow developers to analyse the internal structure of the software, to determine its integrity and quality. This makes it easier to expose and repair structural weak points that could lead to an unusable system or create external security threats. Think of it as an x-ray device for software. It helps to identify otherwise hard-to-find structural weaknesses so that they can be addressed before they cause problems with business operations, or create unnecessary additional costs.

These standards can be used pre-emptively. Developers can employ them to set development targets with observable metrics to promote the security and dependability of the software system. These can be baked into the development process by including them in scoping and technical specification documents.

Best Practices in Software Engineering

As you’ve seen by now, global software development standards play a critical role in ensuring that the software we use is secure and works the way we need it to. It provides a common framework and a structured ecosystem so that developers can collaborate seamlessly and more efficiently.

While these standards are the authoritative guidelines for ensuring quality, there are additional best practices that experienced developers will follow in combination with the formalised standards.

Reduced complexity of source code

Software code should be clean and efficient. It should allow for the most effective, safe and quickest ways to accomplish tasks. Complex code is the enemy of this. At best it’s difficult to work with; at worst it can make your software a nightmare to maintain. Experienced developers will use the simplest, most optimised code necessary to perform any particular function as quickly as possible. Reducing code complexity also makes it easier to read, and reduces the risk of errors that can result in software bugs.

Software test automation

Software testing is an exhaustive process, in more ways than one. Every single detail needs to be checked for full test coverage, which can demand a huge amount of manual work. Thankfully, very efficient automated software testing tools are available. Using these tools, developers can define test cases, individual tests, and rules that are then carried out automatically. Not only does this save an inordinate amount of time – automated test cases also allow the development team to discover any issues very early in the development process, rather than having to trace them when they appear as bugs in the system.

Continuous code auditing

Code reviews are a very important part of successful software engineering. During this process, team members check each other’s code, not only to detect errors, but mainly to make sure that all the code produced by the entire team conforms with best practices and the applicable ISO standards. This improves the quality of the code, and helps to ensure uniformity and consistency. It makes the code much easier to maintain once the software has been deployed as well. These reviews also encourage individual skill development, as programmers learn from the feedback they receive from other team members.

Deploying source code in limited batches

Rather than deploying large parts of the software application as a whole, it’s far better to deploy code in batches, or modules. Breaking down the software development into smaller batches of code, and then deploying and testing these individually is much more efficient – and safer. If you deploy small elements of the software and immediately put them through quality control, it significantly reduces the risk of code errors being overlooked. They’re easier to spot in a single code batch, rather than trying to debug everything at the same time. If bugs are found, it’s far more efficient to fix the specific code batch than have to roll back the development of the entire application, with the ensuing time and cost ramifications.

Stringent version control

Version control is a critical part of a software engineering quality management system. For a start, it prevents the disastrous scenario of developers overwriting each other’s code. Version control tools keep a record of all changes, allowing development managers to track the code’s version history. This makes it a lot easier to collaborate, fix errors and track progress. It also allows teams to roll back changes to a specific point in the programming process. This lets them return to the last stable code version before the changes that caused problems were introduced.

Feature flags for new features

Feature flags are alerts that are used to indicate where new features have been introduced to the software being developed. This is especially useful in the tailoring process when the software is being adapted to include features that a client has added after the initial scope document was created. Flagging selected new features allows the QA team to test them in a controlled and secure environment, without having any impact on the ongoing development of the rest of the software system.

Automated deployment and integration

Continuous implementation and integration promotes consistent and reliable software development. Using an automated, iterating “Build – Test – Deploy” process, development teams can ensure a constant, faster, more accurate workflow. This allows new functionality and code changes to be tested and deployed quicker and more efficiently than would be the case if everyone waited for the final product before beginning the QA process.

Software Development Standards FAQs

Does Pulsion always use software development standards?

Yes, we adhere strictly to all the ISO, IEC and IEEE standards on all software development projects we undertake. We strongly believe in the underlying principles of having coding standards, and adopt them all. Pulsion has quality accreditations in ISO9001 and ISO27001. These are annually verified by external auditors. We also keep up to date with any and all changes to the standards as they are published. Our website contains white papers that you can read at any time. They describe and discuss our philosophies and approach to software development.

Will I be able to check Pulsion’s software standards?

We practise full transparency, and you’ll always have open communication lines to us. You can keep track of the progress of your software, and we’ll provide full documentation of the workflow processes and coding practices as we go along, so that you have complete peace of mind.

Why outsource my software development to Pulsion?

Research has shown that as much as 50% of all inhouse-developed software systems don’t fully meet business requirements. Not only that, employing top-class coders can be prohibitively expensive if you’re not an IT company and only have a couple of IT resources that look after your network. By outsourcing to us, you get access to world-class expertise at a fraction of the cost of hiring it. You also get the benefits of the advanced technologies and processes that we use. This helps to ensure you get a software application that does what you need it to do and satisfies your business objectives.

Can I see examples of Pulsion software projects?

We have a broad portfolio of clients across various industries, and plenty of case studies for you to look at. Naturally, you’re welcome to contact our previous clients for references – we pride ourselves on our levels of client satisfaction.

Will we have our own dedicated Pulsion development team?

We create specialised teams for each different project we undertake, so you’re assured of a dedicated team that will work exclusively on your project. You’ll also have your own dedicated project manager, who will constantly liaise with you.

Will my business get ongoing support from Pulsion once our software is delivered?

We have a dedicated support team that is always at your disposal after we’ve implemented your software. This covers everything from help with learning the user interface to maintaining your system, and fixing any minor issues. We’re also available if you need any changes or additions.

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