Table of contents
Being on the market for a long time, you cannot sacrifice software quality and project resources when building highly complicated systems. Otherwise, there is a risk of an organization’s bankruptcy, inefficient processes, and overall damage to the business. Thus, large-scale software development projects are quite challenging tasks due to their complexity, process structure, and huge scope of work.
However, from our experience building large-scale applications, we apply the best tools and techniques to ensure a favorable scenario in any case. So, we’d like to share practical insights to help you build large-scale applications on time, on budget, and on value.
In this post, we will talk about new trends, discuss main technologies and process specifics, and explore the major risks when building complex systems for enterprises. You can use this guide as a must-have checklist to help you build the perfect-fit solution to meet your long-term business needs.
What is large-scale software development?
Large-scale software development is the multilayered process of developing systems that support multiple simultaneous users who access the software functionality at the same time. Such large software systems process large amounts of data and traffic while remaining flexible to load changes and ensure the quality of operations. The key factors that distinguish large-scale software from other software are high performance, vast data processing, scalability, and availability at any time.
Big companies and enterprises often need to grow their business and enter new markets. A decent response to this scenario is to build a large-scale application that can handle multiple concurrent user requests and deal with high volumes of data while ensuring high performance. This software helps reinvent complex processes, increase automation, reduce operational costs and move your overall business to a new level.
Large-Scale Software Development: Top trends
Getting started with large-scale system design is impossible without discovering the best technology trends to build compatible, high-quality software solutions. So, let’s find out which trends and innovations you need to keep an eye on today.
AR and VR technology
Augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) technologies have recently led to a global change in customer experience. From mid-sized to enterprise-level companies, this technology is applicable across a wide range of industries, such as real estate, e-learning, retail, construction, e-commerce, and others.
Businesses primarily focusing on the B2C business sector benefit from this technology through an increased customer base, improved customer experience, and first-class workflow automation.
Another mainstream technology is low-code development. This practice implies the development process without any manual coding. As such, developers use special constructors to build the software features.
Today, this trend is gaining momentum as an easy-to-learn approach to intensive software development. Low-code development is especially valuable in large-scale software development because it helps software teams complete a considerable amount of work on budget and on time.
Increased focus on cybersecurity
Regardless of the business scale, cybersecurity threats can harm the business and leak sensitive data. The tons of data generated and processed daily are more prone to potential corruption. Therefore, this trend is gaining momentum. The need to address cybersecurity pain points and prevent malicious attacks and other software corruption is more significant than ever.
Fifth-generation (5G) mobile technology continues to make its way into modern devices, providing faster connectivity, stability, and quality for end users. For businesses, data sharing and transmission will become smoother and more convenient, even over long distances. According to Statista, 69% of shipped smartphones will be 5G-enabled by 2023. That indicates potential competition in the enterprise software development market in the race to meet market demands.
Integrating AI algorithms into corporate processes continues to be a priority among business leaders. The number of benefits it provides to different organizations is numerous. From voice search, chatbot, and easy access to any information, enterprise-level software development uses AI to process tons of generated data accurately and quickly predict market trends. Businesses can use AI-friendly technologies to evolve further, making investments more accurate and risk-free.
Internet of Things (IoT)
Enterprises continue to embrace IoT technologies, making software rich and user-friendly. Businesses can integrate IoT-powered algorithms into desktop, mobile, and web-based apps and create solutions across healthcare, transportation, logistics, retail, and real estate. Smart environments and home utilities are the most common use cases for IoT technologies that help improve service, optimize energy resources and provide real-time monitoring.
What type of large-scale software development systems does your enterprise need?
Large technology-led software systems play a huge role in creating new business value and building capacity in various industries. There are different types of large-scale applications to help your business evolve and handle the scale efficiently.
One of the main challenges businesses face in the financial sector is multi-tasking and multi-user systems that require appropriate maintenance and robust functionality. Thus, companies look for ways to automate repetitive processes, simplify access to financial data, manage the company’s income and expenditures, manage orders, etc.
With large finance systems, a single end-to-end solution can combine all of these features and become capable of executing multiple tasks from one specialized dashboard.
Practical examples of software that you can use to improve accounting and finance management:
- Online accounting software
- Billing software
- Invoicing software
- Budgeting solutions
- Financial CRM
- Financial modeling
- Asset tracking
- Cash management, etc.
Enterprise resource planning (ERP)
ERP solutions are another enterprise-level software that can handle complex business process management and control the overall corporate ecosystem. Such solutions can manage and process vast amounts of information and plan resources more efficiently with AI-driven predictive analytics.
ERP systems are widely used across large businesses allowing them to manage their business in one system, keeping business up-to-date, streamlining processes, and facilitating business data analysis while optimizing the organization’s costs and time.
Building a custom ERP solution is a challenging task requiring a professional team, industry-relevant experience, and efficient development workflows. Read our ultimate guide to custom ERP development to learn how to meet all requirements at once.
Supply chain management and logistics
Supply chain management solutions provide companies with better manufacturing technologies, faster enterprise communication, and problem-solving. The core processes that this software deals with are:
- Planning resources and capacities to meet customers’ needs
- Inbound and outbound transportation management
- Efficient warehousing and distribution of goods
- Manufacturing management
- Controlling and optimizing store operations
- Coordinating all business processes from purchases to returns
Large software systems can combine all these functions into a single system that manages and optimizes the supply chain, helping your business prevail in global markets.
Sales and marketing
Marketing for large organizations is different from marketing for small businesses and startups. It requires specialized tools to manage numerous marketing channels, keep track of leads, and manage the team.
Sales and marketing solutions for big enterprises help manage all marketing and sales activities from a centralized hub. Organizations deal with numerous marketing channels and often require optimal solutions for :
- Services attribution
- Social media channels
- Customer relationship management
- Content management
- Outbound and inbound marketing
These activities can be performed and managed in a centralized system to achieve critical goals faster and ensure a successful marketing campaign.
Inventory and asset management
Keeping track of business assets is essential for every organization. In terms of big corporations, assets and inventory tracking software help in efficient resource planning and making well-informed decisions to:
- Improve visibility of assets
- Ensure optimum utilization of assets
- Reduce operational costs
- Analyze performance
The types of inventory and asset management software can be classified to:
- Infrastructure asset management software to record physical infrastructure assets, like utilities, transport equipment, power generators, etc
- Financial asset management software for managing investment funds, securities, loans, and other
- Software asset management
- Physical asset management that includes equipment, tablets, and different devices
All administration and maintenance activities can be performed using enterprise asset management software capable of increasing uptime and ensuring the longevity of an organization’s assets.
One of the most significant advantages of enterprise project management software is the ability to handle large, small, and micro-processes across the organization. Enterprise project management software comes as full-featured solutions that help you accurately design, measure, and control your company’s projects. These tools can help you manage project resources, manage risks, and perform project analytics. The essential benefits to look for in the enterprise management software are:
- Planning, tracking, and managing project schedules
- Mitigation of project risks
- Simple internal communication and file sharing
- Efficient collaboration across numerous departments
- Keeping track of project progress
- Automation of tasks
- Faster project execution
Different industries often face the need to develop industry and process-specific software to fit specific mechanisms and processes. The digitally-enabled industrial software can accurately meet domain-specific needs, from developing enterprise hardware to 3D printing. The widespread industrial applications are:
- Smart factory management
- Industrial analytics
- Equipment monitoring and maintenance
- Quality management
- Field service
- Manufacturing execution systems
Remote monitoring and data analytics
Smart connected solutions are popular requests for large-scale software development, as one of the main challenges for large corporations is to process and analyze large amounts of mixed data. The widespread applications of software are:
- Remote monitoring solutions
- Smart Transportation
- Smart home solution like our case – Tailwind
- Video surveillance
- Connected vehicles
- Smart farming software
- Smart grids
- Environmental monitoring
As you can see, technology-led next-generation solutions can effectively meet any enterprise’s needs. All you need is to choose a dedicated software team to advise you and offer you the best solution to help you meet your immediate needs and create highly scalable, secure, and compliant large-scale solutions.
Large-Scale software development: Our tech expertise
In terms of large-scale system design, our team has completed a large-scale software development project to help our customer from a long-distance shipping company create an easy-to-navigate and user-friendly system. Coral is a product that helps create and manage contacts, ship documents, and benchmarks and simplifies the company’s accounting and financial management processes.
Main challenges and goals:
The customer came to us with basic application prototypes and sketches of ideas to develop a system that would help automate business processes and accounting.
Our main challenge was quickly getting involved in the ongoing process with strict timelines and rigorous platform requirements. So, we’ve divided the process into manageable sprints and assigned demos to all stakeholders to help them track overall development progress and make changes if needed.
Another important task for us was to identify as many business processes of the company as possible for automation and smooth integration into the platform.
Our team has managed to simplify the complex contract and accounting management process. We came up with a solution to better structure information, making it easier to operate on a single platform.
We designed a multi-level slide for a list with many entities that helped simplify the user interaction. For the design part of the software, Northell’s designers chose a minimalist style for the platform to maximize the user’s focus on the critical elements and improve the overall user experience.
Technologies required for large-scale software development
Building a highly-scalable and secure enterprise-level software requires advanced tools and technologies to release efficient solutions. Let’s review the must-have tech stack to ensure rich functionality and high performance.
Our team uses web development frameworks for large-scale software development that ensure compliance with constantly evolving web app standards. We consider Express and Django the most appropriate for the backend functions to meet the server-side software requirements. For the app frontend, we use Angular and React.
Simply put, protocols are instructions that allow data to be transferred between devices. Protocols are key communication technology representing a set of rules for a specific purpose. The standard protocols used to develop large software systems are:
- Address Resolution Protocol (ARP)
- Domain Name Service (DNS)
- Internet Protocol (IP)
- Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)
Application programming interfaces (APIs) are other valuable components of a must-have toolkit for creating a scalable architecture for large-scale software development. An API facilitates communication between different platforms. Developers can use the functionality of other third-party software and enable their users to use the services provided by API solutions indirectly. API can be considered as a kind of agreement between two parties. The popular types are:
- Web APIs to reach web browsers and devices
- SOAP APIs to intensify data privacy and security
- Open APIs (or Public APIs) and REST APIs for ease of use and maximizing bandwidth
- Custom APIs for maximum flexibility in all changing parts of software development
The kind of database developers choose to build large software systems depends on the data types they need to store. In the case of a relational database, the best choices are MySQL and PostgreSQL. In case of the need for disconnected databases, the best solution is utilizing NoSQL or MongoDB.
Infrastructure and storage
To take care of all aspects of large-scale web development, developers must choose the proper infrastructure and storage option to ensure the platform is highly scalable and secure. With platform-as-a-service (PaaS) solutions, you get auto-scaling features and high reliability. You can also consider such cloud platforms as AWS, IBM Cloud, or MS Azure.
A handy guide to follow when developing large-scale software
The process of large-scale software development is the backbone for your further business growth. However, this process differs from regular app development, so you should organize the process right along with exploring all intricacies and considering vital aspects that will affect your final project deliverables. Let’s outline the main steps you need to take to achieve your goals.
1. Gather and clarify requirements
According to your business’s specifics, large-scale applications focus mainly on scalability. With the increase in traffic, your current functionality might not handle the changes, while alternative development options may seem costly.
So, the first step is to consider your expectations and the features of your final solution. This entails collecting relevant information about the future solution, defining timelines and scope of tasks, evaluating technical feasibility, and setting project budget and team structure.
2. Choose software architecture
Choosing the correct architectural pattern lays the groundwork for the future development of your project. Deciding whether to choose a layered, event-driven, microkernel, or microservice architecture, you will make a decision you won’t change in the process. Each of these options is most suitable for different application needs and requirements.
For example, layered architecture is suitable for more time-constrained projects and traditional business applications. However, this solution is not ideal for large-scale software systems that require built-in scalability as the core.
Event-driven architecture is most suitable for developing asynchronous systems and user interfaces. This solution may be ideal for large systems, but before choosing it, you need to check specific technical criteria for your application before implementing it.
The microkernel architecture best suits applications with a broad target audience, instances that distinguish between primary and higher needs, and core and dynamic routines.
Microservices architecture allows more flexibility, many integrations with third-party services, and scalability opportunities. Microservices architecture is most suitable for rapidly growing applications. Developers can use different tech stacks for various app components and build separate services that won’t affect the software system.
3. Establish inter-team coordination
Inter-team coordination is essential to software development process predictability, high team commitment, and workflow efficiency. All elements of a single development mechanism must work synchronously.
Inter-team coordination enables rapid exchange of information, faster requirements clarifications, and problem-solving. Adopting such an approach is imperative for complex projects, where the scope of work is vast and time-consuming, and there is a high degree of interdependence between different workflows.
4. Elaborate on large-scale system design
The overall system design strategy should aim for simplicity and ease of use for any system with many components and complexities. Based on our real case experience, the Northell team prioritizes the technology toolkit to support a large scale. To achieve this, we choose a scalable application infrastructure required for reliable large-scale software development.
5. Move to development
The core development phase entails the intensive developers’ work on implementing the agreed features of your final solution. Depending on the type of methodology and defined scope of work, developers implement features step by step. In the case of large-scale software development, our team sticks to a mixed development approach to ensure timely risk mitigation and requirements compliance while adopting regular changes to enhance the customer experience.
6. Test, deploy and maintain large-scale software
To ensure successful project delivery, you should conduct a series of final tests to ensure all software components work uninterrupted. However, don’t miss the opportunity to tackle product vulnerabilities and improve performance by gradually deploying your software. This way, you’ll minimize the need to fix problems after the final release. Keep the maintenance of your large software system in mind by introducing regular updates to ensure proper software operation.
Challenges of large-scale software development: Northell’s solutions
The process of large-scale software development requires effort, proper technologies, knowledge, and experience. As the stakes for large projects are high, you can also worry about many risks and potential project bottlenecks. So, we’d like to dispel your doubts by offering workable solutions in each specific case. Let’s review some of them.
Unclear project scope
Problem: Developers of large software systems often encounter situations when the final deliverables aren’t decided. So, it’s crucial to identify the project scope in the very beginning and clearly define and document the main activities, goals, tasks, timelines, and deliverables.
Solutions: To deal with such situations, it’s recommended to model app features and their dependencies, manage the process instantly, and prioritize agile app development.
High software complexity
Problem: In light of working on a complex large-scale system design, there is a risk of potential software overcomplexity that can negatively affect internal interactions and lead to many bugs and long development cycles.
Solutions: Create a robust software architecture with well-planned internal dependencies between layers and modules. Conduct regular peer reviews and unit testing to ensure maintainability and high code quality. In other words, prioritize simplicity and clarity while avoiding unnecessary software functions.
Shortage of resources
Problem: Lack of both financial and human resources to be able to launch and manage the large-scale software development project can be a trap on your way to creating an effective business solution.
Solutions: Consider team augmentation services and hire specific professionals to help you work on project tasks. You can both scale up and down your development team on demand. Practice knowledge sharing and stick to a continuous recruitment process. Keep in mind that software professionals with relevant industry experience know how to reduce your effort and balance your budget.
Problem: Poor process coordination can arise from a high degree of interdependence between work streams and departments working in the large-scale software development life cycle. Lack of effective methodologies, single development approach are often wrong choices for large-scale projects.
Solutions: Handle complex software projects by practicing cross-functional teams to increase collective accountability, better communication and coordination, and shorter interactions. Assign a DevOps specialist to solve infrastructure-related problems, choose the right tools to coordinate projects, or divide your project into subprojects led by dedicated project managers.
Problem: Developing large software systems comes with a responsibility to minimize potential security risks and prevent leakage of sensitive data.
Solutions: Prevent risk factors by integrating security best practices and regularly conduct security and compliance testing. Support for software security at the component level.
Cost and time overrun
Problem: Although project continuity for large-scale software system design is more prolonged and resource-intensive than for SMB projects, you can quickly mitigate the risk of cost and time overruns.
Solutions: Start with clear project scope, engage senior developers to prevent code rework, choose cloud architectures, and use proven third-party components.
3 scenarios for large software development: tips from Northell
In this section, look through the possible scenarios your current business may face and find the right-fit solution to help you start off successfully.
Scenario 1: You need to build a large-scale solution from scratch
If you decide that building a solution at scale is the right business choice, you should start organizing the development process and gathering a team of professionals. Choose the option that suits you best to simplify your efforts for lengthy searches and the time needed to get to the point.
Option 1. Talk to experts to help you analyze your business process, identify main problems, prioritize business goals and find optimal solutions.
Option 2. Consider investing in end-to-end software development to delegate the process of developing large software systems to a single team that will take care of all the process from start to finish, including needed resources.
Option 3. Research additional integrations and tools that you can use to grow your business.
Scenario 2: Your large-scale software is inefficient
If you already have software integrated into your enterprise infrastructure but need to scale your solution, rework functionality or redesign the platform, consider the following steps.
Step 1. Document your problems to understand what features you need to maximize the company’s customer base.
Step 2. Explore popular platforms like Clutch and GoodFirms to find an experienced software team, read honest customer reviews, and evaluate value for money.
Step 3. Submit the scope of tasks to a dedicated software development team to help you create a custom solution that fits your budget and schedule.
Scenario 3: You have a solid large-scale software
There can be many associated issues that you may encounter when maintaining a large-scale solution. To quickly find a simple solution, consider the options below.
Option 1. Check which software features work well and which don’t.
Option 2. Consider upgrading your system or replacing old functionality.
Option 3. Consult with a team of professionals to make an informed decision regarding the operation of your system.
Option 4. Create custom features to improve user experience and find ways to generate more revenue.
How much does it cost to develop large-scale software systems?
As the process of large-scale software development involves through preparation and substantial resources to build highly scalable, secure, and fast-performing software, keep in mind there are factors that can affect your final project cost.
- Business model
- Features package
- Expected time to market
- Development approach
- Team location
- Team size
- Team expertise
- Hiring model
The development process can be divided into different stages where you may need help. Look at rough large-scale software development costs based on project stage and team location.
As you see the average cost for large-scale software development ranges between $35,000-100,000. Contact us to help you calculate, plan and execute your large-scale project efficiently.
How long does it take to develop large-scale software systems?
Below you can also see Northell’s timeline calculations based on project size and stage.
Large-Scale Software Development: Conclusion
To meet growing market demands, boost the software performance and maximize the company’s customer base, large-scale software development is a proven way to succeed. Although the development requires a distinctive approach, hiring the right team with the expertise to plan the process, build a solid architecture, and ensure high security and scalability of your software solution is no longer a problem.
We provide our customers with a result-oriented development approach, proven technologies, and a dedicated team to help you evolve your business while reaping the rewards of doing so from the beginning.
See your product ahead of the competition with the Northell team! Reach us now.