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What is SDLC? 7 Phases of System Development Life Cycle

4 September 2023
What is SDLC? 7 Phases of System Development Life Cycle

The system development life cycle (SDLC) is a crucial framework that guides the process of creating, implementing, and maintaining high-quality software solutions. In this article, we'll explore the 7 phases of the SDLC: planning, analysis, design, development, testing, deployment, and maintenance. By understanding each phase and its importance within the grand scheme of software development, you can ensure your projects remain efficient and successful from start to finish.

So, let's dive into these vital stages and uncover the secrets behind effective system development!

What is SDLC

The Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) is a widely adopted methodology that outlines the various stages involved in developing software applications. It provides a structured approach to software development, ensuring that the end product is of high quality, within the budget and delivered on time.

The SDLC consists of various interdependent and sequential phases, each with its own set of activities and deliverables. SDLC ensures that each stage is completed before moving on to the next, promoting quality and minimizing risk.

It also helps teams stay on track, minimize costs and ensure that software development meets the needs of stakeholders. It is a crucial process in modern IT software development and has contributed to the success of many software projects throughout the years.

7 Phases of Software Development Life Cycle

Project Planning

Project Planning is the initial phase of the SDLC, that involves a detailed analysis of the project's feasibility, the identification of stakeholders, and the creation of a project charter. During this stage, the project team and the stakeholders identify the project’s goals and objectives and determine how to meet them. This stage also requires allocating resources, budget, and time frames.

The stage generates a comprehensive project plan which outlines the project's schedule, budget, milestones, and deliverables. The plan serves as a framework for the project and guides the development processes in subsequent stages. A project charter is also created during this stage. This document outlines the project’s scope, objectives, goals, expected deliverables, and timelines.

Moreover, the project planning stage includes requirements gathering as well. This is a vital step in which the project team identifies the end-users’ needs, business objectives, and functional requirements of the software. The team also reviews business processes and workflows to understand the software's role in enhancing them.

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Requirements and Analysis

This stage is critical as it lays the foundation for the entire development process. It involves identifying what needs to be done, how it will be done, who will do it, and when it will be completed. The development team works closely with stakeholders to understand their needs and expectations. This requires open communication between the team and stakeholders to identify and capture all requirements accurately.

The requirements gathered during this phase are then analyzed to determine whether they can be met within the constraints of time, budget, and resources available. This analysis helps identify potential risks associated with implementing certain features or functionalities.

Once the requirements have been analyzed, a detailed project plan is developed that outlines how the development team will proceed with designing and building the software system. This plan includes schedules, budgets, resource allocations, risk management strategies, quality assurance processes, testing plans, documentation standards, and other critical information needed for the successful completion of the project.

Design

The primary objective of this stage is to create a detailed blueprint of the software product that aligns with user requirements and meets all technical specifications. During this stage, the design team works in close collaboration with the requirements team and software development team to ensure that the final design caters to the needs of all stakeholders.

The design stage involves developing a comprehensive plan that outlines the software's structure, algorithms, and system architecture. This plan includes the creation of software models, flowcharts, and diagrams and building an MVP that depicts the desired functionality of the final product. The design team takes into account all technical aspects such as programming languages, operating systems, network infrastructure, and performance requirements to ensure that the design plan is technically feasible.

Coding

This stage involves the actual creation of the software system, which entails converting the design specifications and requirements gathered during the previous stages into functional code. Developers use programming languages, coding techniques, and tools to create the necessary software modules and components.

At this stage, the team leader must manage the development team's workflow to ensure the code created meets the required standards and specifications. Moreover, this stage requires a detailed level of attention to detail since a single coding error can significantly affect the entire project, leading to system crashes, data loss, and other negative outcomes.

Testing

The testing phase is divided into two categories: functional testing and non-functional testing. Functional testing aims to verify that the software system meets the specified and documented functional requirements outlined in the earlier stages of SDLC. In contrast, non-functional testing focuses on the system's usability, security, performance, and reliability. The purpose of non-functional testing is to ensure that the software system operates efficiently and with minimal deviation.

  • During functional testing, software testing engineers conduct various tests such as unit testing, integration testing, system testing, and regression testing.
  • Non-functional testing comprises usability, security, performance, and reliability testing.

Deployment

The deployment plan is executed sequentially, starting with installing the software on the target machines. A series of operational tests follow this to verify that the software is running as expected. Once the operational tests are completed, the software is made available for end-users to start using.

The deployment phase involves a range of stakeholders, such as developers, quality assurance teams, system administrators, project managers, and end-users. Communication is a vital aspect during this stage, and close collaboration between all stakeholders is necessary to ensure a smooth and successful deployment.

Maintenance

This phase is essential for ensuring that the developed software continues to perform at optimal levels, remains secure, and meets the evolving needs of its users. During the maintenance phase, developers must monitor the performance of the software and address any issues that arise to ensure that the software continues to function correctly.

The maintenance phase involves correcting errors in the software, updating the software to meet changing user needs and adapting the software to changes in the technology environment. The maintenance phase may include preventive maintenance, such as implementing patches and updates to security protocols and fixing minor glitches before they become more significant problems that could disrupt the system.

Bugs can adversely impact the functionality of the software, and developers must identify and fix these issues to ensure that the software continues to function correctly. Additionally, as new technologies emerge, developers must update the software to ensure it remains compatible and offers the latest features and enhancements.

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Predominant Models of SDLC

SDLC models are frameworks that map out the stages of the software development process, from its inception to its eventual retirement. Below are some of the predominant models of SDLC.

  • Waterfall Model - a linear, sequential-based SDLC model, where each stage follows the previous one strictly sequentially. This model involves distinct phases such as requirement gathering, design, implementation, testing, deployment, and maintenance. The model is highly structured and emphasizes documentation.
  • Agile Model - an iterative SDLC model and is used by organizations that need to be more flexible in responding to changing customer requirements. It involves four stages: planning, designing, testing, and deployment, which are repeated multiple times per the feedback obtained during each iteration. The Agile Model is well-suited for software products requiring frequent updates, such as web applications.
  • Spiral Model - a risk-driven SDLC model that blends elements of both the Waterfall and Agile models. It follows a continuous spiral process that begins with a high-level design and moves towards a more detailed design, development, testing, and deployment. The project is divided into smaller iterations, with each iteration resulting in a prototype being developed. The model is also frequently used for complex software development projects.
  • V-Model - an extension of the Waterfall Model and emphasizes testing at every stage of the development process. It highlights and maps out the relationship between each development phase and its corresponding testing phase. This model ensures that testing is integrated into each stage of SDLC, rather than being an isolated activity at the end.
  • RAD Model - an SDLC model that emphasizes rapid prototyping and fast development. In this model, the development team creates a prototype of the software product and presents it to the customer for feedback. The final version is only developed after the feedback has been incorporated into the prototype. This model is suitable when time-to-market is a crucial factor.

Final Word

Understanding SDLC and its seven phases is critical in developing efficient systems that meet the needs of end-users and stakeholders. By following the SDLC process effectively, developers can ensure that systems are reliable, easy to maintain, and perform their intended functions effectively.

Want to know more? Check out our blog for more valuable info on custom development!

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