Oh, the software development life cycle (SDLC). It’s the root principle of creating custom software. Sadly, the key definition is lost at times in the never-ending war of words on models and methodologies used to perform software product development.
It’s like making an effort to describe what a GIF is to your uncle. In a flash, you and your cousins are bawling about how to pronounce it GIF and not JIF. Does screaming about the soft G help in answering his question? No. is your aunt mad because she can’t peacefully watch her daily soap over your nonsense? Yes.
Hence, we are passing over the discussions about Waterfall, Agile, SCRUM, and all for now and concentrate only on the foundation. We’ll go through the software product development life cycle and the 7 elementary steps to build custom software.
What Does the Software Development Life Cycle Mean (SDLC)?
Basically, it’s a framework denoting the process to structure the development of any software system, right from initiation to implementation, in a methodical and thoughtful way. The aim of this whole process is to meet the demands of the consumers for fast turnarounds, meaning high quality and low cost.
If you don’t follow such efficient software development practices, you will botch the software with which users will be unhappy, and your time and money will get wasted.
The software development life cycle framework empowers stakeholders and development teams to complete and assess each and every step in turn and forge ahead only when they are sure that the product is ready to go into the next phase.
Decoding the 7 Stages of Software Development Life Cycle
SDLC is considered the bedrock of all development methodologies, with different activities related to each stage. The stages do not look the same for several methodologies with minimal differences. They usually take place in the common order, but they can be assorted and occur in parallel at times.
The activities in each stage include assessing requirements, assessing budgets, writing documentation, estimating budget, writing documentation, etc., along with many technical elements. The process generally starts with figuring out the business requirements of customers, followed by implementing and testing. When all stages and their requirements are fulfilled, the cycle comes to an end.
Here are 7 distinct stages of the software development life cycle:
Stage 1: Planning
The planning stage is the first step, and it is exactly what it sounds like – what do we want, and what’s the plan for this project? Developers start off by figuring out the scope of the problem and pinning down the solutions. Some of the crucial elements to consider here are time, costs, benefits, resources, and much more.
On top of everything, project goals and project schedule are determined at this stage, which can be of utmost importance, especially if a commercial product is to be developed that must be released to the market within a specific time.
Stage 2: Analysis
At this stage, development teams gather all the information of clients’ expectations and requirements for the product. This is where system analysis occurs as well, evaluating the demands of the end-users and ensuring the latest system meets their requirements.
Additionally, system functions are defined at this stage based on the project goals that the team aims to develop. There are three fundamental activities included in the analysis stage as follows:
- Gathering software requirements
- Developing process workflows
- Executing a detailed analysis
At such a level of SDLC, defining and documenting the requirements of the end-user is of pivotal importance. These requirements are a set of business objectives and functionalities that the system must fulfill to be successful. By adhering to the Agile methodology, the output of this step might give rise to a backlog of tasks for performance.
Stage 3: Design
After the requirements are established, the third phase of designing the process takes place. At this stage, the development team describes the needed operations and features of the system. It includes screen layouts, business rules, and other crucial documentation. Outputs involve code developed by spikes to use an initiating point for development and produce documents that record the components and patterns chosen for the project.
Once the design statement is ready, stakeholders will assess the plan and offer their suggestions and feedback, if any. It’s utterly necessary to consider stakeholders’ input and incorporate that in the document as the smallest mistake can result in cost overrun.
Stage 4: Development/Implementation
It’s time to code! In this phase, the designs and documents of the previous stage are translated into computer-legible language. Tasks are divided into units and modules and allocated to different developers. This is one of the longest phases of SDLC as developers start creating the complete system by writing codes with the desired programming language.
Business analysts can now review the work for any enhancement or modification. The output of this stage is functional, testable software that is usually shown to clients at set intervals as a demo for timely feedback.
Stage 5: Testing
It is probably the most vital step in SDLC, as it’s impossible to build quality custom software without testing. Once developers create the software, it’s deployed in the testing environment to assess the serviceability of the whole system. The aim of this stage is to ensure the software is meeting the customer requirements.
While testing, the testing and QA team may discover some errors or bugs and inform developers. Then the development team takes care of the bugs, and a retest is again done. This process continues till there is no bug in the system, it’s stable and working according to the business requirements. The output of this phase is functional software, ready to fully deploy in a production environment.
Stage 6: Deployment
Once the testing is completed, it’s time for deployment. In this sixth phase, the system is released to the client’s environment, where customers can start using it. All the components and data are placed in the production environment, and users are provided with documentation or training on how to operate the software.
Again, a brief round of testing is done on production just to detect any impact or issues of the new release. This phase is also known as ‘delivery.’
Stage 7: Maintenance
Software development doesn’t just end after the release of the system. Now you know why it’s called the Software Development Life Cycle and not Software Development Happily Ever After The End!
Basically, the maintenance phase is just the end of the beginning as the software needs to be regularly monitored to ensure it’s operating properly. As programming languages and operating systems are continuously improving and updating, defects and bugs will keep emerging. Hence, they must be discovered and fixed.
During this phase, any important changes, corrections, or modifications take place so that the system continues to work smoothly and stay up-to-date to meet the changing goals of the business. It’s absolutely mandatory to maintain and enhance the system eerie once in a while so that it can adapt to future requirements.
Any software product begins with an innovative idea and flows through a string of key steps till the time it’s deployed. There’s a myriad of methodologies to implement this process, such as Waterfall, Agile, SCRUM, and many more, but understanding the importance of every single phase is crucial to build quality and user-friendly software and get the project completed within budget and on time.
As with most processes, little changes and adjustments to the SDLC can be made based on project and/or client needs. But the most significant part of this cycle is the development team (including software developers, UX designers, and project managers) and how they are communicating with each other to cater to business needs and user needs.
Therefore, look for a renowned custom software development company with dedicated developers who effectively follow these stages with appropriate tools but are experienced and flexible enough to adapt to your unique requirements.
Ultimately, this is the web! Code it, deploy it, run it, upgrade it, and run it again!