The software development life cycle (SDLC) is a highly organized process that agencies use to develop software. It follows the full path through the development of new software from planning to post-launch. There are many different forms of SDLC with new frameworks and methodologies appearing every year. It is important to pay attention to since it will dictate the speed, quality, and cost of the project to develop your software. In this article, we discuss the SDLC and some of the various changes to it that companies make to improve performance.
The Seven Stages of Development
In general, any SDLC (Software Development Life Cycle) has seven stages of development. Each of these stages focuses on a specific set of tasks that need to be complete before moving on. These stages almost always happen in the same order regardless of which version of the SDLC (Software Development Life Cycle) or methodology is being used. It is an industry best practice that most companies adhere to with few exceptions. The seven stages of development include:
The Planning Stage
The first part of any project is the planning stage. In this stage, the project manager or project owner (since a manager may not be on staff yet) conducts research into the problem that needs to be solved and develops an idea of how to do that. In this case, it is an idea of what the software that needs to be developed should be like.
The planning stage involves a lot of research and preparation to fully flesh out the idea for solving the problem. This includes talking to clients, team members, content experts, and bringing together a lot of information to fully understand the problem. The result of this stage is a plan to create software that can effectively address the problem at hand.
The Requirements Stage
The requirements stage and the planning stage or often combined or done in the reverse order. This is because each stage can guide the other in a way. The requirements stage is where the project owner outlines what the software needs to be able to do. For example, software for a bank will likely have a requirements list that includes:
- Convert Currency A into Currency B
- Handle international transfers
- Maintain specific security requirements
- Store information in a database
- Complete basic transactions in less than three seconds
The requirements for the software all depend on that type of software it is and what needs to be done to address the problem at hand. In some cases, this is done first because the project owner prefers to plan the software around the requirements. In other cases, it is easier to plan first with a list of requirements being the end goal for the planning stage.
The Design Stage
The design stage is where the results from the previous two stages are used to create a model of the software. In the end, the model may be an initial prototype that can perform the most basic features and demonstrate how the overall program can work. The project team will include designers at this point who will create the plans for the user interface, as well as developers that will create the plans for the basics of the backend services. Once the design is mostly complete, it is passed to the full development team to be built.
The Development Stage
In the development stage, the design is given to a team of software developers to finish building the full program. It may take a prototype and create it in full scale with all of the features, security systems, and required parts put in place. This is where the majority of the technical work happens, and the result is a completed software system that is ready to be tested.
The Testing Stage
The testing stage is designed so that a team of user testers can perform various quality assurance tests on the software. Any problems that are found are recorded and data is sent back to the development team to fix them. The software may go back and forth between the development team and testing team many times in order to all of the problems. Once it can pass the QA team’s tests, it is ready for deployment.
The Launch Stage
The launch stage sees the software being sent to market and sold to customers. For this, it needs to be packaged for distribution and distributed to the distributors. There is often a team that handles this and works out problems with the distribution network to provide a smooth introduction to the market.
The Post-Launch Stage
After the software product is launched, a team will work on collecting information from users and working with the support team to solve problems. Doing so resolves user issues and makes the product usable for consumers. This is an ongoing process for most of the time that the product is on the market.
Software development methodologies use the seven stages of development, but rearrange them in different ways to make the process better suited to different working styles. There are three main methods that are still common today.
The waterfall method is the oldest method and is also the most prone to problems. The planning, requirements, and design stages are combined to give the development team a complete blueprint of what to develop. The AGILE method rushes through all of the stages, then uses user feedback to restart the process. It goes through the process many times rapidly to build a product that customers want. The iterative model works in the same way by bringing a minimum viable product to market quickly, then incorporating upgrades over time. Each model has its own benefits and drawbacks.