What Is Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC)?

Software-Development-Life-Cycle

IT companies deal with complex, heavy-load projects. To manage and control all the necessary steps, and navigate through all the project activities smoothly, teams make use of the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC). In this article, we will explore this concept and discuss the important stages of life cycle, most popular SDLC methodologies, and their benefits.

What Is SDLC

Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) refers to the process utilized by IT companies to optimize the development of high-quality programs. Its ultimate goal is the efficient production and delivery of top-performing software within time and money constraints, according to the client’s needs and preferences.

How Does SDLC Work

SDLC involves several major steps that happen in sequence. The life cycle is basically an essential plan for software development. If team members are able to keep to this plan of the life cycle, it will help lower the project’s cost and delivery period, and upscale the product quality. Different popular SDLC models can be used on the projects to fulfill the customer’s wishes, and ultimately, there is no single one-size-fits-all approach that is suitable for all projects. To choose the development life cycle model that will work best for you, you should evaluate your resources and customer needs, as well as the specifics of the project’s domain.

Stages of the Software Development Life Cycle

Software-Development-Life-Cycle-Stages

Planning Stage

As the first initial stage of the development process, the planning stage determines the primary objectives of projects. It is an essential, integral stage of the life cycle that forms the basis for all the subsequent actions. Being an important compound process, it includes these three phases:

  • Identifying the system to be developed
  • Assessing how viable the project is
  • Making a final upper-level plan

These steps help determine the challenges of the projects and the volume of work that has to be done during the upcoming life cycle stages. This preparatory stage forms the preliminary foundation of the expected work. It outlines the future procedures of the life cycle, allocates resources, schedules the timeframe and deadlines and helps prevent issues that might otherwise arise.

Analysis and Requirements Stage

When clients decide to use the services of a software company, they often have a hazy notion of what to expect. That is why a thorough requirement analysis is necessary. To perform these activities, strong collaborative relationships between various teams are mandatory during the whole development life cycle. Business development specialists, marketers, programmers, and other professionals from specific spheres work together with this aim.

The team collects all the necessary information and determines the preliminary ideas for creating a prototype. Programmers specify the conditions for prototyping, estimate the possible alternative options, as well as design the documents, according to which all the work will be carried out.

Design and Prototyping Stage

The following SDLC phase includes the development of general architectures of the systems. Software engineers define how each module functions and interacts with third-party modules. Designing precedes the actual coding of the software. Programmers summarize all the information, alongside particular characteristics. This can include factors such as the UI, interfaces of the systems, networks, databases, and preconditions.

This SDLC stage is involved in the thorough description of all the desired functions, characteristics, and qualities of the software. Designing turns the specifications documents into a more well-organized shape. Afterwards, the team creates a prototype — a model — and tests and refines it until the preferable level of quality is achieved.

Software Development Stage

Once the design document is prepared, programmers put all the guidelines they receive into practice. They write the source code and build the software in the required programming language.

If all the previous SDLC phases were performed properly, the coding stage should be clear and uncomplicated. While coding, programmers utilize software development best practices and instructions that are set up by the IT companies and clients. Various development tools and techniques are used as well, such as project management and bug tracking tools, various search tools, preprocessors, cache systems and databases.

Software Testing Stage

Quality assurance is of crucial importance in software development projects. Running tests helps companies to carry out a thorough evaluation of the way the software functions and its important features. Thanks to this evaluation, it is possible to make estimations, if the product meets all the customer desires and pre-set goals.

Both manual and automated tests are aimed at the identification of any possible bugs and malfunctions of the program prior to its implementation. There are a lot of possible testing options, and the choice of the specific test depends on its exact goal. Without this important SDLC stage, clients can experience technical issues that can lead to potential financial losses. Identification of problems at an early testing phase can prevent all these problems.

Implementation and Integration Stage

The main aim of this stage of the SDLC is the installation of the created software into the production environment and setup of all the required configurations. The team ensures that the software meets all the pre-set technical criteria and suits the business demands. Another issue that software engineers should devote their attention to is to check if the final product follows all the software documentation and technical guidelines.

At this SDLC stage, the team runs the app in order to make sure that it operates correctly. Then programmers ensure that it follows all the integration criteria regarding such factors as user interaction, data transformation, communication, safety regulations, administration, and support.

Deployment and Maintenance Stage

The final SDLC stage is the deployment of the program, after which the customer can actually utilize it and enjoy the functions it offers. Often companies choose to deploy the program firstly in test and pre-production environments, and only afterwards in the real one. This multiple-stage method helps improve the safety of the app.

When the app is released, it doesn’t mean that no issues will arise in the future. Down the road, customers may require additional features in accordance with new demands. This can potentially lead to the necessity of code alterations. Likewise, technical issues may arise that will need to be solved quickly, in order to ensure the proper functioning of the information system.

Basic SDLC Methodologies

Software-Development-Life-Cycle-Methodologies

Waterfall Model

Companies have used the waterfall model for decades, and this SDLC approach is still popular in IT projects from various business domains. It is strongly focused on specific pre-set sequential steps, and each step can begin only after the previous one finishes. In comparison with more modern techniques, it is more inflexible and rigid. Although it offers a structuralized comprehensive approach, it lacks the ability to quickly introduce adjustments and adapt to emerging changes.

Agile Model

The Agile approach centers on the quick cyclical delivery of the product. This SDLC approach welcomes frequent changes, tests, experiments and adjustments. It incorporates multiple releases that can occur often, in some cases even several times a day. This method implies active customer involvement, which can sidetrack the project from the initial purpose. This might occur because customers often decide to add new features that were not planned at the start. However, this model has proved to be one of the most widespread and effective ones.

Iterative Model

The iterative model focuses on the repeated delivery and division of complex development processes into fractional segments. It is possible to identify any malfunctions at the initial stage and add adjustments gradually. One of the positive sides of this SDLC method is that it allows changes to be introduced quickly, and it is often a budget-friendly approach. The method is best suited for the development of systems with clear pre-set goals, especially in large projects.

V-Shaped Model

This SDLC method consists of several consecutive processes. When the first process is completed, the second can begin, etc. It is popular thanks to its simplicity and user-friendly structure. This SDLC model is best used in small- or medium-scale projects when the requirements are clearly defined and are not likely to change. However, it is inflexible and sometimes risks not meeting the ultimate objectives of the business.

Big Bang Model

The Big Bang SDLC model is used when there are no officially specified procedures or stages to create a software design. It is an uncomplicated off-the-cuff process, which can be realized even without a comprehensive plan and schedule. Mostly suitable for low-risk development, it is often chosen for the implementation of short-term small projects. Although it gives users the opportunity to manage the project easily, it can result in extra costs if customer needs are misinterpreted.

Spiral Model

Implemented as a number of repeated cycles, the Spiral model is preferred for large-scale, expensive, and complex projects. It is not suitable for small- and medium-sized businesses and is often preferred by huge enterprises. In this SDLC model, the evaluation and assessment of risks are of pivotal importance for all the project’s peculiarities to be taken into account. The team repeats all stages of projects continually in a spiraling movement. This approach is an advanced one, used for the development of custom software for hard projects.

Magic Box Model

With the opportunity to make adjustments to the structure of the code and databases, Magic Box is a fast SDLC method that allows the software development team to quickly complete the project. Companies often have Scrum masters who facilitate planning and help establish efficient and productive cooperation among team members. Scrum masters also help eliminate roadblocks and ensure that everything in the project runs as a well-oiled machine, during the cyclical time periods known as sprints.

Prototype Model

Prototypes are replications of products or systems that are to be created. They are basically the reproductions of the future products, used when customers do not have the requirements in advance. These reproductions are discussed and upgraded to form the last one. The high-quality software will be formed based on this last reproduction. With a customer-centric approach in mind, it is possible to introduce the adjustments quickly and identify error-prone features. This SDLC approach demonstrates how technically feasible the product is. Nevertheless, the method is demanding on both time and money.

Benefits of SDLC

It’s not easy to complete heavy-load projects without a definite strategy in mind. Therefore, SDLC as a plan can streamline the collaborative work of different teams on a project. There are a lot of disputes regarding which kind of methodology to choose, as each one has its own benefits and drawbacks. To choose a definite methodology, the team should take into account their resources, the specifics of the project, and the client’s desires.

Regardless of which methodology you choose, using SDLC will give your team the following advantages:

  • Basis for making a structured plan and schedule
  • Specified communication tools
  • Unified language
  • Transparent set of responsibilities among architects, coders, testers, systems engineering specialists, and other team members
  • Clearly set results at each stage of the project
  • Comprehensive estimation of the required resources
  • Improved security
  • Increased speed of product delivery
  • Better connection with the client

These advantages can help create a high-quality product within the determined resources and time constraints, in accordance with all relevant documents and best practices. Nevertheless, you should bear in mind that it’s possible to enjoy all these SDLC advantages only if all the team members genuinely stick to the plan.

Conclusion

SDLC can introduce huge benefits into any software development project. This article has shown you a more comprehensive view of SDLC’s structural elements, most widespread approaches, and major benefits that it can offer to your enterprise. When choosing a particular SDLC approach, we recommend you focus on the unique characteristics of your project and the specifics of business demand.



FAQ

What is the most important stage of the software development lifecycle?

The most significant stages of the software development lifecycle are requirements and planning. If you perform these stages correctly, the consequent work will be more structured, secure, and simple.

What type of software development lifecycle methodologies has SaM Solutions worked in?

Our many years of business experience have proved that no single process model or development methodology can fit every project budget and unique client situation. Most often, Agile methodology was chosen as a flexible and predictable approach.

What SDLC methodologies are mostly used at SaM Solutions?

SaM Solutions strives to establish an aligned customer-centric process, based on industry-standard methodologies. At the moment, SaM Solutions uses Agile methodology more than any other.


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About the author

Maryia Shapel
Maryia Shapel

As a content writer, Maryia strives to create enlightening blog posts and technical articles based on the latest technology trends and established best practices. Her aim is to tell more about SaM Solutions and promote the company’s expertise.

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  • I can’t imagine how programming was possible at all before all these software development life cycle models? It’s impossible to complete any project successfully without using one of these.

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