What Is SDLC And Its Phases?

software development life cycle

The Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) is the process software developers use to develop software applications. This process is typically divided into smaller tasks, which are then assigned, completed, and measured.

Companies must minimize costs, meet or exceed customer needs, and deliver software faster. SDLC helps achieve these same goals by identifying all the inefficiencies that lead to higher costs and fixing them so that everything runs smoother.

In this article, we discuss the software development life cycle, how the software development life cycle works, and its phases. 

What is the Software Development Life Cycle?

The software development life cycle is the procedure to apply standard industry practices to develop software applications. This cycle is divided into either six or eight steps. Listed below are these eight steps:

  1. Planning
  2. Requirements
  3. Design
  4. Build
  5. Document
  6. Test
  7. Deploy
  8. Maintain

The variation in the number of steps arises because project managers may choose to split, omit, or combine steps, depending on the project’s scope. Otherwise, the ones listed above are the core components recommended for any software development project.

In short, SDLC is a way by which we can improve as well as measure the development process of software. It does this by allowing for fine-grain analysis in every step of the process, thereby helping managers maximize efficiency at every step.

How Does the Software Development Cycle Work?

The software development life cycle outlines every task that must be completed to develop a software application successfully. This system was implemented to increase efficiency and reduce waste during the software development process. Keeping track of its progress and development is vital to keep the project running smoothly.

Companies can more easily manage these steps by dividing them into smaller, more conquerable sections. For example, we can break down the planning stage into three parts – marketing research, technology research, and cost-best analysis. Additionally, we can combine other steps that run simultaneously.

The development and test phases can be conducted in parallel as developers need to address errors that might come up during testing. Companies can better manage their workflow and progress by breaking down these larger steps.

The Seven Phases of the Software Development Life Cycle

This section will discuss the phases of the SDLC, the best practices, and the processes for software development. Further, it will elaborate on the SDLC models & methodologies and the SDLC management studies.

  • Planning: The Planning phase, as understandable from its name, is the stage where developers begin to plan for any future projects. It is also known as the feasibility stage, which primarily consists of the project leaders trying to evaluate the project terms. The evaluation process includes calculating material and labour costs, constructing the project’s leadership and team structure, and developing a schedule with the project’s target goals.

In the planning phase, project leaders try to acquire feedback from potential developers, customers, sales reps, and subject matter experts. Planning sometimes further includes the component- feedback from stakeholders. 

The scope and objective of the application, as well as the objective of the new system, are clearly defined in this planning stage. An effective outline is formed in this phase which theoretically will catch any problem in the development before they can impair the system. Moreover, planning also ensures that proper boundaries are set, preventing the project from shifting or expanding from its actual purpose.

  • Define requirements: The phase of defining requirements, also sometimes known as the analysis stage, is used to determine what the application should be like and its needs. In this stage, the developer may- 
    • Assess and figure out alternatives for existing prototypes
    • Run an evaluation and research to analyze any requirements end-users might have
    • Define the system requirements of a prototype

Resources necessary to construct the project are also a requirement defined in this phase. For example, in the case where the project team wants to develop software to control a custom manufacturing machine, the machine, in this case, is the requirement in the process.

  • Design and prototyping: This is the third phase of preparing designs and prototyping, which govern how any software application functions. Some characteristics of the design are:

o   Architecture- It specifies industry practices, use of any template or boilerplate, programming language, and overall design.

o   User Interface– It defines how any software application would respond to an input and how customers would interact with that particular software.

o   Platforms- This defines which platforms the software application will run, such as Android, Linux, Apple, Windows version, or even gaming consoles.

o   Programming- Programming defines only the programming language but also includes methods to solve problems and perform tasks related to the application.

o   Communication- This defines how the software application can communicate with other assets. These assets might include examples like a central server or any other application instance.

o   Security- This defines the step taken to secure the software application and might include password protection, SSL traffic encryption, and secure storage of user credentials.

Prototyping is a component of the design phase. A prototype is like an initial software version in the Iterative software development model. A prototype primarily demonstrates the basic idea behind the looks and functioning of a software application. Therefore, it is more cost-effective to change the development phase by changing the Prototype phase rather than rewriting the code itself.

  • Software Development: Software development refers to the actual writing phase, where the developer will work on writing the code to build the application. The developers will develop the code according to the outlined specifications and earlier design documents. They will generally follow any coding guidelines provided by the company. While a single developer is enough to write a small project, a larger one might be broken down into smaller and manageable parts and worked upon by multiple teams. 

The coding process includes other tasks as well. For example, many developers need to revamp their skills in working in a team. Finding errors and then eliminating those glitches are critical. Tasks can often delay the development process, such as having to wait for test results or going through a time-consuming process of compiling code so an application can run. But with the help of SDLC, it is possible to anticipate these delays and take proper steps to avoid them, thereby allowing space for the developers to carry on with other duties.

  • Testing: Building the software is not the end of it. It is essential that before the application makes it to the users, it is thoroughly tested. The testing phase might take time according to the complexity of the software- for the more complex program, it might take time to test all the defects in the system, while for simpler software, the testing phase might be a small one.

Testing must ensure that all functions of the software work accurately and different parts of the application work together seamlessly.  A performance test also can be run to minimize lags or hangs in the processing. The testing phase helps reduce the number of glitches or bugs the users encounter, leading to better usage and user satisfaction.

  • Deployment: This deployment phase primarily involves making the application available to the users.  Most companies, however, prefer to automate this phase. A few examples of how companies achieve this automation in deployment are a payment portal or the insertion of a download link on the company website. 

Deployment can also sometimes prove to be intricate. An example of complex deployment is upgrading a company-wide database to another newly developed application. With multiple other systems used by the database, integrating the upgrade is a more complicated process that requires more effort and time.

  • Operations and Maintenance: This is the final phase of the development process where the application is over being used in the field. However, the software reaching the market is not the end of the SDLC. The operations and maintenance phase is still essential as it is possible to discover bugs not previously found during the testing phase. If all the residual glitches and errors are resolved, it will be possible to spawn new development cycles.

The length of the Maintenance might again vary according to the size and complexity of the software- smaller systems might require little maintenance, while the converse will hold for larger systems.

Like other business processes, SDLC is a process that aims to improve and analyze the process of software creation. Through SLDC, it is possible to assess what is going on in the development process and which part to focus on for improvements.

FAQs

What is SDLC?

The software development life cycle (SDLC) is a framework that outlines, defines, and monitors the tasks performed at each step in the software development process.

What are the seven phases of SDLC?

SDLC, in most cases, consists of eight phases: Planning, Requirements, Design, Building, Documenting, Test, Deployment, and Maintenance.

What are the best practices of software development?

We can apply a few helpful SDLC practices to any part of the development cycle. These practices include- source control, continuous integration, and SDLC management systems.

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