Articles | August 26, 2021

Software Development Life Cycles

The time from when an application is “born” to when it is fully functional always proceeds in a specific way and is usually divided into certain phases depending on the methodology used. In recent decades, new models appeared to lead the way to the development of superb quality tech solutions.

   

Some of the models will work in complex projects, while others are better applied to those with a high level of ambiguity. Find out what the Software Development Life Cycle is, what the most popular models are and when they work best.

What is the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC)?

Software development methodologies systematize the work and structure processes needed to create high-functioning systems. They also foster efficiency and allow for the monitoring of progress. The software development life cycle (SDLC) is a process that yields software production through several essential phases to ensure efficiency and quality. SDLC is considered to have appeared back in the 1950s and 1960s, along with advances in computer science. Since then, SDLC has been impacted by emerging trends in technology, such as Cloud Computing, Big Data, and more recently Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence. What is SDLC in practice? Simply put, these are specific phases of application or system development, which are necessary to create the best possible product in the shortest achievable time and within the assumed budget.

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The individual phases of work on the software product include, in particular:

  • Requirement collection – this stage includes business analysis, as part of which specialists in this area collect requirements to better define the project goal. It also enables positive cooperation between the business and project teams as business analysts seek a common language for both.
  • Planning and architecture design – the planning phase includes establishing KPIs, selecting technologies and project tools, and creating specifications. At this stage, one should ask as many questions as possible. Do we have all the sources and competences we need to carry out a project? What needs to be done and whom do we need to engage? What are the potential risks and how can we avoid them? It is also the point at which the foundations are laid: the architecture of the system is built, and IT architects are involved in the work.
  • Development – consisting of programming, testing and maintenance of a system or application. Programmers or entire development teams write the application code. The development phase also involves the software testing necessary to deliver a quality product. It’s not just developers and testers who are involved in this process. In the case of agile software development methodologies, a Scrum Master and Product Owner are also involved.
  • Maintenance and further development – the life cycle of an application does not end with its implementation in the production environment and making it available to end-users. Every application is like a living creature: it constantly changes and develops. Over time, its users report not only bugs but also development needs. That is why it is so important when choosing a software service provider to check whether they also have the capability to maintain it and carry out service work according to your needs.

4 popular Software Development Life Cycle models

  1. Waterfall – in use since 1970, and also considered a ‘traditional’ approach, it is a sequential model consisting of the following phases: creating documentation and gathering business requirements, programming, testing, implementation and maintenance.  It includes the creation of project documentation and works best when there is a good understanding of technology and the business requirements are clear. Some examples of the Waterfall model are PMBOK and PRINCE2.
  2. Spiral model – firstly described in 1986, this software development life cycle model combines an iterative approach of Agile methodologies and the traditional Waterfall approach. The process is divided into the following phases: setting up objectives, identifying and solving risks, developing software and obtaining approval, evaluation and planning. In this model, special emphasis is placed on identifying and preventing potential risks so as to create a high-quality product.
  3. Agile – the Agile Manifesto was published in the early 2000s, describing the principles of Agile methodology. It is an iterative approach, as part of which work is divided into so-called Sprints. Despite the fact that Agile has been around for over 20 years now, it is often described as revolutionary. In contrast to the Waterfall model, it puts emphasis on communication and flexibility as teams develop software in a flexible manner, by reacting to changes. For this reason, Agile teams work using concise project documentation and dedicated tools for planning and keeping an eye on the progress.  Agile software development works well in projects in which there is a high level of unpredictability and it is difficult to identify potential risks. Popular Agile methodologies include:
  4. DevOps – the word ‘DevOps’ was used for the first time by Patric Debois in 2009 during an industry conference. The process consists of 8 steps: planning, development, compilation, testing, release, implementation, service, and monitoring, and includes frequent deployments carried out in an iterative manner. The widely promoted and increasingly popular DevOps culture means synergy between development (Dev) and operations (Ops). DevOps specialists follow Continuous Integration and Continuous Development practices to achieve the best possible results. Some of the prominent companies that use DevOps are Flickr, Netflix, Amazon and Groupon.

Summary

Software development is not just coding. It is a laborious process that calls for involving a number of skilled experts in many areas at each stage. Nowadays, thanks to IT outsourcing, you can easily gain access to those competences and get something extra: advice on the recommended software development life cycle that will work best for your project.