Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC)

The Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) is a methodology with a clearly defined process that enables the creation of high-quality software at the lowest cost in the fastest time possible.

In the software industry, teams use the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) process to design, develop, and test high-quality software. Through this process, developers can pinpoint errors in software creation before it moves on to the next step. As a result, it lessens the risk of fixing something too late and running into costly mistakes. But, more than that, SDLC helps ensure that everything is right the first time around.

This glossary article gives a short insight into SDLC, the different stages, and why this process is used throughout the software industry.

What is SDLC? 

The Software Development Life Cycle is an approach to producing software that provides a well-structured flow of phases. It consists of a detailed plan describing, developing, maintaining, replacing, altering, and enhancing specific software. 

Because of this, the life cycle empowers organizations to produce high-quality software that can be used right away by the end-users. In short, SDLC is a methodology for improving software quality and its overall development process.

What Are the Stages of the SDLC Method?

Different stages of a typical SDLC

The SDLC method involves several different stages. Each of these unique stages is important in ensuring the development process operates smoothly and in the most efficient way. These are the 6 stages of the SDLC:

1. Requirement Analysis

The most fundamental stage in SDLC is requirement analysis. During this step, all stakeholders, including customers, sales teams, industry experts, and programmers, must input the problems they expect the software to resolve for their target market. 

The information collected from the stakeholders will go on to form the basis in planning the approach you take to complete the project. By incorporating all this feedback, the end product is more likely to meet all the requirements from the start. Whether it’s a social media platform or digital editing software, all the requirements of the product should be considered. 

2.Defining Requirements

After completing the requirement analysis process, the next step is defining and documenting all product requirements. This stage also includes defining the resources needed to create the product. 

Once defined, you have to ensure that all requirements have the approval of your customers or market analysts. One such way to do this is through a Software Requirement Specification (SRS) document. The SRS holds all product requirements needed for designing and developing the software during the project life cycle. 

3. Designing the Product Architecture

During this stage, software developers answer the question of how to develop the software. They do this by turning the software specifications into a design plan. This includes specifying aspects like the programming language, user interface, and overall design of the product.

Based on the requirements specified in the SRS, there are usually various design approaches for the product architecture. The design will then be reviewed by all important stakeholders, who can then offer feedback and suggestions. The stakeholders will factor in things like: 

  • Risk assessment
  • Product robustness
  • Design modularity
  • Budget and time constraints

Failing to choose the best design approach at this stage can result in cost overruns and the collapse of the project. 

4. Developing the Product

At this stage of the SDLC, the team then develops and builds the software. The programming code is written based on the approved design. To ensure smooth and organized development, every developer should stick to the agreed blueprint. Therefore, it is also essential to provide proper and clear guidelines about the code style and practices. 

5. Testing the Product

Before making your products available to the users, they need to be tested. This stage typically involves using automated testing systems to see that the product was created correctly and functions well. Testing allows developers to catch bugs and other flitches, then fix these defects and retest the product.

During the testing phase, you can also track progress to see if the product meets quality standards, as well as whether it achieves user requirements. Developers will keep testing the product until it reaches the quality standards defined by the SRS. That way, the product will have a better usage rate, and users will be more satisfied with it overall.  

6. Deployment of the Product

At the final stage of SDLC, the developers can finally deploy the software to the production environment. Deployment is typically automated and can be done in a variety of ways. For example, it might be as simple as accessing a portal on a company website or downloading an app to your phone.

One thing to note here is that the deployment process differs based on the organization’s strategy. Some organizations may opt to release the product to a limited segment. Doing so allows stakeholders the opportunity to identify and fix any minor errors before formally releasing the product to the wider market.

What Are the SDLC Models? 

There are several software development life cycle models you can use during the software development processーeach with its unique steps. To choose the best one, you need to compare them and consider what will work best with your product.

Some of the most commonly used SDLC models followed in the software industry include:

  • Waterfall Model: This is the most traditional software development method and it focuses on a structured, sequential process. 
  • Iterative Model: This is a method that emphasizes repetition and refining the product. 
  • Spiral Model: Considered as one of the most flexible models, this one also has an emphasis on repetition. Projects using this model pass through four phases over and over with gradual improvements each time.
  • V-Model: This is an extension of the waterfall model where it tests the product at each stage of its development. 
  • Big Bang Model: Lastly, this is the most high-risk model that uses most of its resources during development. As such, it tends to work best for small projects.

What Are the Benefits of SDLC? 

When properly executed, the SDLC provides the highest level of management control and documentation. Developers can understand what they should be building while also understanding how it impacts the end-users. All parties involved agree on a goal upfront, so there is no confusion while creating the software. 

By defining the SDLC, companies get benefits like: 

  • A solid foundation for project planning and scheduling
  • Help in estimating project cost and time 
  • Identifying the goals and activities of each phase 
  • Promoting transparency of the project’s overall process 
  • Enhanced speed and accuracy of product development
  • Lessened risks during the project
  • Improved client relations with its defined standards

Involving everyone at each stage of product development helps ensure that the final product meets all its desired goals. At the end of the day, it’s easier to look ahead and build your vision with a clear and outlined plan. 

The SDLC Method: Minimum Cost for Maximum Output

There is no universal approach to product development. Every business should choose a model that fits your organization’s structure best. However, the SDLC methodology allows you to have a systematic process for building software as it focuses on quality, accuracy, and precision. 

Furthermore, as it involves various models, it is important to choose the one that can meet your vision to truly enjoy high-quality software development with minimal cost.