Got asked that today in a job interview, I replied with the usual :

  • Gather Data : what data do we want, do we possess it ? If not how to do we acquire it, etc.
  • Database : after we have successfully accomplished the first step, we want new data to be implemented in a DB, that'll allow an easier, faster access to data let alone making it questionable and queryable.
  • Design the software : what traitement do we want, what functional needs do we want to answer, what processes should our GIS use in addressing those issues ? (Business Layer design)
  • Development : code it.

I have dropped the modeling of the spatial phenomena, which is not always necessary.

What other steps have I missed ? What are some details I should know ? I am a fresh engineer, having zero experience yet, so I am hoping for experienced people to make me gain some time and point me to some good reads. As you can notice, most of what I cited is coming from an almost purely software development perspective, I feel like I am missing the GIS part in it.


  • 3
    The bottom line is missing - what is the budget? More important if going to work for the private sector than public. Example some budgets can be consumed just in data acquisition (think LiDAR/orthorectified aerial photography.)
    – Mapperz
    Aug 17, 2013 at 20:46
  • Oh, that's a good point ! Knowing that data acquisition can consume up to 80% of a GIS project, that question is important.
    – Akheloes
    Aug 17, 2013 at 22:18

3 Answers 3


I would think the first step is "What questions are we trying to answer?"

  • How much should we dig that question ? Do clients usually have a clear idea about what exactly they want to do with their GIS ? In my country (Morocco), people tend to "want" a GIS just because it is "a new technology" that's internationnally recognizable.
    – Akheloes
    Aug 18, 2013 at 12:19

Beyond the technical elements, another thing that you might consider is the people aspect of a GIS. It's important to have people trained in how to process the data, and how to interpret the results that you get. Otherwise, you just have a bunch of data.

  • So training and education for that GIS users, cool !
    – Akheloes
    Aug 18, 2013 at 12:21

Another important step is the data update policy (annual, quarterly, etc. ..) and the editing and viewing permissions. Another thing is to get feedback from users and improve the software after some while.

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