The SaaS Development Lifecycle: 6 Key Stages Explained

If you decided to create a Software as a Service (SaaS) product, you've likely faced frustrations with traditional software business models. You've decided to take matters into your own hands and build your own SaaS product. In our blog series titled "What is SaaS Development [Types, Benefits & Challenges]," we provide valuable insights for beginners.

But here's the thing: building a SaaS product is not the same as a traditional software development lifecycle. It involves a whole different set of technical and business considerations.

To help you get started on the right foot, we're here to break down the SaaS development process step by step. We'll cover everything you need to know about building a successful SaaS product, from understanding the technical aspects to navigating the business side of things.

The world of SaaS development operates on its own unique lifecycle, different from the traditional software development cycle. Without a clear understanding of how it works, you might find yourself struggling to make progress.

Did you know that 92% of SaaS startups fail within three years? One of the biggest reasons for this is a lack of proper product-market fit. But don't worry!

Let’s get started with the first stage of SaaS Development Lifecycle (SaaSDLC).

The key six stages of the SaaS development lifecycle are planning, subscription, design, development, testing, and launch.
The key six stages of the SaaS development lifecycle are planning, subscription, design, development, testing, and launch.

1. Planning Stage

Similar to other software development processes, the SaaS development life cycle starts with planning, conceptualization, and research.

During the conceptualization phase of a SaaS product, you should define the vision and scope of the application, particularly focusing on the business aspect. At this phase of SaaS product development, all stakeholders should participate, including software architects, investors, developers, product managers, cloud consultants, sales representatives, marketers, and among others.

Throughout the SaaS development life cycle, conceptualization has the following steps:

  • Generating and validating the SaaS application idea
  • Conducting thorough market analysis
  • Identifying business opportunities and requirements
  • Deciding short, medium, and long-term business strategies
  • Assessing cloud architecture
  • Engaging in negotiations with potential investors and collaborators

Once the SaaS idea is solidified, involved stakeholders must do research to lay the groundwork for the application such as the product concept, target audience, market landscape, and competitors.

This research phase within the SaaS lifecycle is important for gaining insights into the target market and discerning the fundamental characteristics essential for creating the application's features.

Also, the planning phase involves outlining the requirements for your SaaS product. You should specify aspects such as multi-tenancy architecture, self-service provisioning, security measures, and user activity monitoring.

Read our comprehensive guide for SaaS development process: How to Start a SaaS Company (Step-by-Step Guide)

2. Subscription Stage

After you've envisioned, researched, and assessed your SaaS product concept, it's time to proceed to the selection or subscription phase. This stage entails making the most important decisions in the SaaS development lifecycle.

- Choosing a Cloud Provider

Your first decision in this phase is to choose the cloud provider, which plays a significant role in your SaaS product. Choosing a cloud provider determines where your SaaS product will be hosted. You must evaluate factors such as discoverability, scalability, accessibility, cost-effectiveness, support, and other aspects of the cloud. 

Additionally, assess the platform capabilities of the cloud provider and the architectural adjustments they can offer. To select the cloud provider, consider the following:

  • Outline the technical architecture of your SaaS product.
  • Define your proof points.
  • Evaluate the cloud platform based on your technical architecture.
  • Shortlist the platform vendors accordingly.
  • Finalize the platform and proceed with implementation and design.

Several reputable cloud providers, such as Amazon AWS, Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, offer various options to choose from.

- Choosing the Right Development Approach

In the SaaS development lifecycle, various methodologies are available, each influencing the pace and approach to development. Before starting the SaaS development, you should choose the methodology that aligns with your project's needs. Here are some popular options:

  1. Agile: is widely used for its flexibility, allowing for iterations, changes, and continuous improvements. It operates on sprint-based development, making it suitable for remote teams or developers. With Agile, you can adapt your product to evolving SaaS trends.
  2. Scrum: A subset of Agile, Scrum emphasizes sprint cycles and retrospectives, focusing on achieving incremental progress.
  3. Waterfall: follows a sequential approach, where each phase must be completed before moving to the next. While it offers consistency, it may lack the adaptability of Agile.
  4. Spiral: The Spiral model involves iterative cycles, with each phase influencing the next through continuous evaluation.

- Choosing the Technology Stack

Another crucial decision in the SaaS development lifecycle is choosing the technology stack. It will determine the development environment's ease and the efficiency of your SaaS software ecosystem.

You should consider structuring a class diagram, selecting front-end and back-end technologies, choosing a database, and integrating new-age technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, Machine Learning, or the Internet of Things to drive digital innovation in your product.

- Choosing the Delivery Model

This part is determining the type of subscription or delivery model you want to establish for your SaaS product. Here are some common SaaS subscription models to consider:

  • Freemium Pricing Model: Offers free usage for a limited time, enticing users to upgrade to a paid version.
  • Per-user Model: Charges users based on the number of people accessing the product, ideal for internal functionalities.
  • Fixed Fee Model: Charges a consistent fee from all users, regardless of usage or additional features.
  • Tiered Model: Provides flexibility in product offerings, allowing users to unlock more features as they upgrade.
  • Usage-based Model: Charges users based on the services they use, offering customization and transparency.
  • Feature-based Model: Sets pricing based on the features users require, suitable for feature-rich SaaS products.

You should consider your product features, target user base, and other factors to determine the most suitable subscription model. Many companies also combine various models to offer improved customization options.

3. Design Stage

After conceptualizing the SaaS concept and selecting suitable delivery models, another phase involves designing the product. This step in the SaaS development process focuses on creating both the visual and architectural elements of the SaaS app. For the SaaS products, success isn't solely determined by functionality; user experience (UX) is equally important.

The longevity of SaaS platforms relies on sustained user engagement. By embracing user-centric design principles, you guarantee that each user interaction holds significance, fostering loyalty and retention.

UI/UX designers collaborate on prototypes and wireframes to ensure a user-friendly design that resonates with users. Additionally, system architects outline the software's overall structure and the interactions between its components.

Choosing the right tools for designing the SaaS application is crucial. Design impacts user acceptance, and a well-designed SaaS application can improve user experience, reduce friction, and enhance usability.

Commonly used tools during the design phase of the SaaS development lifecycle include Sketch, Figma, and Adobe XD.

4. Development Stage

Now it's time to build your SaaS product for real! Your tech team starts writing, testing, and putting together the code to release it. This stage is one of the most important and time-consuming phases in the SaaS development lifecycle. They handle coding, testing, and deployment separately, allowing your SaaS business to grow smoothly.

What you should do in the development stage: 

- Building the Development Team

Creating a SaaS application demands months of dedicated effort from a skilled team. You should build your software-as-a-service team. Whether you choose an in-house team or remote developers, ensure your team includes roles like project managers, business analysts, UI/UX designers, backend and front-end developers, QA engineers, and product managers. 

For a hassle-free and efficient process, you can consider outsourcing your SaaS application development to experts.

DataCose simplifies every step, from development to deployment, ensuring your launch is smooth and stress-free. Book your free  30-minute strategy session now!

- Creating the MVP

Once you have your team ready, the first step in creating a SaaS product is to build the minimum viable product (MVP). MVP is basically the first version of your product. It helps you test your idea, get feedback from users, and figure out how to make money with your product.

Building an MVP is also a smart way to save money in case your SaaS idea doesn't work out as planned.

- Testing the Prototype

Once the SaaS product MVP is complete, the next step is testing it out. One effective approach is to release the product to early adopters or beta testers. Gathering feedback from these initial users allows stakeholders to refine the product before the official launch or consider pivoting to a new idea if necessary.

After gathering feedback, you can proceed to the next sprint and develop the product based on the reviews. You will have a chance to add additional features, improve the user experience, and deliver a more refined version of the product.

With our extensive experience and expertise, we can craft a scalable, top-tier SaaS application tailored to your needs.

5. Testing Stage

Testing is a crucial step in creating software, including for SaaS development lifecycle.

Once the SaaS team has built and improved the product, the next step is to test it before launching it to users. 

During testing, quality assurance engineers check various aspects like functionality, security, and performance to make sure the product works well and is safe to use.  Testing helps ensure that the product is reliable and provides a good experience for users. 

Using tools like Selenium, Postman, and JUnit, along with platforms like JIRA, helps teams manage and fix any issues found during testing.

6. Launch & Maintenance Stage

This stage in the SaaS development life cycle is when the product is introduced to users and then looked after to keep it working well.

During the launch phase, the product is officially introduced to the market or user base. This involves activities such as marketing and promotion to attract users, as well as deploying the product to the intended audience.

Following the launch, the maintenance phase begins, during which the product is continuously monitored, updated, and improved with fixing bugs, adding new features, addressing user feedback, and ensuring that the product remains compatible with evolving technologies and user needs.

DataCose is Ready to Help!

Developing a SaaS product is a smart move for your business, especially in a growing industry. However, it can be complex.

To streamline this process, consider partnering with a SaaS application development company such as DataCose. With our extensive experience and expertise, we can craft a scalable, top-tier SaaS application tailored to your needs. 

We provide tailored solutions that align with your unique needs and goals. From ideation to launch, we're here to ensure your SaaS venture thrives. 

Contact us today to discover how DataCose can streamline your SaaS development process and maximize your potential for success. 

Let's book your 30-minute free strategy session now!


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