The software development life cycle (SDLC) is a series of stages that a software goes through throughout its life. It provides us with an overview of what it takes to develop software.
Quality software is created using a well-defined step-by-step process. If you skip any steps or follow them haphazardly, your software development efforts will be futile.
The software development life cycle consists of gathering requirements, designing, developing, testing, deploying, and maintaining software. Each stage of software development is overseen by a dedicated team of experts in the field.
SDLC stages are mostly consistent regardless of software development methodology. However, as development methodologies change, so does the approach to implementing these stages.
The most used software development models include Waterfall, Spiral, feature-driven, Agile, Lean, Rapid Application Development, and Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe).
For example, in traditional methodologies such as Waterfall, all of the aforementioned stages are followed sequentially while restricting backward movement. The Agile software development process model, on the other hand, employs an iterative approach in which teams can return to a previous stage to fix a bug or accommodate a new requirement.
Why is Software Development Life Cycle Important?
The standard software development life cycle has some great benefits, such as:
- Faster time to market;
- High-Quality software product due to following synchronous steps;
- Better project management control;
- Keeping the entire development team on the same page
- Breaking down team silos
- A clearer perspective of roles and responsibilities
Six Phases of Software Development Life Cycle
1. Planning and collecting requirement
A customer defines a problem and finalizes the requirements at this stage. The development team collects all information from the client in order to create project documentation.
Then comes planning, which includes distributing work across teams, setting milestones, developing delivery timelines, obtaining cost estimates, conducting a risk analysis, and devising a risk mitigation plan.
This stage also includes the creation of a proof of concept, in which the technical feasibility is checked and validated before moving forward with development work.
The design phase of the software development life cycle is concerned with the development of software architecture, prototypes, and user experience design. Here’s a quick rundown of what these activities entail:
Software architecture refers to the process of organizing elements in software code for quality assurance, clarity, and accessibility.
Prototype: The UI/UX team creates a software prototype to test the look and flow of design elements. It allows the development team and stakeholders to see how the software will look and work.
3. Development stage
During this stage, developers write code to make the concept a reality. The development team strives for developer velocity while maintaining quality delivery. The development team can choose to deliver software in chunks or release it all at once, as with waterfall development. When the code is complete, the development team distributes it to the testing team.
4. Testing and Quality Assurance
This phase focuses on ensuring that the software meets the initial expectations and is free of bugs. The quality assurance team reports bugs to the development team so that they can be fixed. To thoroughly test a software product, the testing team employs both manual and automated testing.
After developing, testing, fixing, retesting, and validating, the entire software or a portion of it enters the production environment. In case of Agile SDLC process deployment could include the release of MVP and other features. In the case of Waterfall, however, deployment refers to the release of a fully-fledged product to the market.
New requirements are likely to be phased out as new technologies and user needs evolve. To accommodate these requirements to work on the recent change, the software development team must iterate through the entire software development life cycle. Thus, maintenance implies that software requires updates on a regular basis in order to maintain the software’s value proposition.
Common SDLC Challenges & Solutions
At times, software development can be intimidating. You might not even notice when things get out of hand. As a result, it’s critical to be aware of and avoid common SDLC pitfalls.
The following are some common SDLC challenges and possible solutions:
Challenge 1: Lack of Clear Communication
Communication is essential in the development of software. Sometimes the entire project can be derailed simply because your team members were not actively communicating and continued working despite the problem. As a result, ensuring clear communication within your team is critical.
Encourage communication among members of your team. Every member should understand their role, expectations, and how it relates to their goals.
Challenge 2: Late Requests from the Clustomer
Clients may request a feature later due to a shift in their vision, which has serious consequences for the team that manifests itself in frustration and pressure.
While you cannot avoid this issue, you can mitigate it by collecting as many initial requests as possible. You must also inform your customer about the consequences of late submissions.
Challenge 3: Limited Time for Testing
In software development, testing is critical. Despite this, teams occasionally run out of time for testing. It can happen due to budget constraints or the need to deliver faster.
Allow enough time for software testing when preparing your project’s time estimate. Also, start testing as early as possible so that you have enough time to identify and fix issues if they arise