Defining the Seven SDLC Phases and Highlighting their Value

SDLC stands for Software Development Life Cycle and represents the standard procedure followed by an organization to build a software application. SDLC is commonly referred to as a combination of seven steps, where the steps can be followed directly, reordered, omitted, combined, or otherwise changed based on the company’s needs. While few use the same name for the standard SDLC steps, all include the same basic phases. The overall goal of following a specific SDLC model is to lower production costs, decrease production time, and increase software quality. This article offers a primer of the SDLC steps, provides context for the types of SDLC models, and highlights how SDLC Partners approaches its namesake.

The Seven Basic SDLC Phases

The seven SDLC phases include planning, defining, designing, building, testing, deploying, and maintaining. Depending on the source of SDLC information and the scope of the company, these terms can be adjusted or changed in the same way that the steps themselves can be moved or altered. Despite each of the phases being movable, rearrangeable, and omittable to some degree, the concept of each phase is something that builds off of the phase before. Essentially, the deliverables of each step are necessary to the process as they are combined to ensure the quality and efficacy of the final software product.

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Defining Each Software Development Life Cycle Phase

SDLC Phase - Planning

Phase 1: Software Planning

Planning answers questions regarding what you, and your stakeholders, expect out of the final product or software solution, including estimating production costs, timeline, and gathering software requirements.

SDLC Phase - Define Solutions

Phase 2: Defining the Solution

The defining phase (aka the analysis phase) entails gathering software and user requirements (which can blur the lines between phases one and two), settling on the project’s scope, and software benefits and value to users as well as the organization. This phase includes what the software is and is not; what problems it should address or needs it should fill. Once this is done, you will also be defining the resources necessary to accomplish those goals.

SDLC Phase - Software Design

Phase 3: Software Design

Design covers a host of activities, including system architecture, user interface, data architecture, and needed interfaces, as well as software security design. These strategic choices are based on the definitions and requirements developed in phase two. It’s key to continually assess whether the software design matches the initial expectations. Human centered design (HCD) activities, including prototyping or ethnographic interviewing, are carried out in this phase. HCD is critical to building software that delivers the desired functionality, experiences, and value from any software investment.

SDLC Phase - Build Software

Phase 4: Building the Software

The building phase includes creating the specific software code and executing the technical plans and design chosen in the previous phases. Here, the goal is to meet chosen requirements as well as adhere to software development best practices, like DevOps.

SDLC Phase - Build Software

Phase 5: Software Testing

Testing follows building as the fifth step and entails ensuring that every aspect of the software product functions, and is experienced, in compliance with the stated requirements. The code is free of bugs, the software correctly interfaces with other modules or data sources, and it delivers the user experience and stakeholder value desired. Quality assurance and software testing can encompass several types of testing (e.g. mobile and user or cross-browser) and, once consistent and successful, should include automation technologies for greater efficiency and accuracy.

SDLC Phase - Deployment

Phase 6: Software Deployment

Software deployment – release or general availability — is when everything comes together and the software is available for use. This “final version” might be introduced to customers through product promotion and marketing, as well as follow-up to ensure satisfaction with the software functionality and experience. Sales and service staff should receive ample training and education. For end-users, the deployment plan should include any training, adoption support, and onboarding engagement. Deployment may be broken into iterative stages based on the product’s market size or industry verticals.

SDLC Phases - Maintenance

Phase 7: Software Maintenance

The maintenance phase is seen as the final step for any new software application or the latest release of an existing program. During maintenance, developers receive feedback on features that need to be finetuned or fixed, as well as planning for updates and enhancements that are built into the product’s roadmap. While some view this phase as final, modern SDLC approaches this as a true cycle with continuous (and possibly smaller, tighter) cycles where new technologies may be included, new features added, or completely new business models are addressed.

Which SDLC Approach or Type is Right for You?

For over 15 years, SDLC Partners has focused on the best methodologies and the most successful and modern approaches to software development. It’s even in our name. In general, we believe in an Agile, DevOps, and Lean Portfolio approach that includes human centered design very early in any software life cycle. We’re also a staunch advocate for built-in quality and cybersecurity from the beginning. These are the hallmark of delivering successful and desirable, software to our clients.

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