Exploring how business ideas are translated into powerful software solutions by following a well-defined set of processes

In the modern tech-intensive world, software solutions have become an integral part of almost all business functions. Apart from a competent team of developers, the development process also demands a coherent guideline, which administers their practices and connects project stakeholders. It is known by the name “Software Development Life Cycle.”

1. What is Software Development Life Cycle?

Software development is a series of computer-science-related activities associated with the creation, design, deployment, and maintenance of software products. 

Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC), also known as the Software Development Process, is a framework that defines the tasks at each step in the development, maintenance, and testing of software. The SDLC is not a methodology on its own. Rather, it describes the phases included in a software’s life cycle. Therefore, it creates a pathway for the overall development process, which turns business ideas into powerful software solutions.

There are many ways to define the phases of an SDLC, but generally speaking, the process can include the following 8 phases: Analysis, Planning, Design, Development, Testing, Deployment, Maintenance, and Evaluation.

  • Analysis: In this first phase, specialists from the software company will gather the requirements of their clients, address questions, identify potential risks, and propose a software solution for those needs. Besides, they will conduct a feasibility study to evaluate the likelihood of success for the proposed solution after taking into consideration economic, technical, legal, and scheduling factors.
  • Planning: Members of the development team will put forward a detailed project plan that addresses the client’s concerns and is within their capability. The plan must specify the tasks and resources needed to work toward a completed product. 
  • Design: Product requirements and descriptions established in the previous phases will now be used to create an initial system design. Product architects usually will propose more than one option of architecture for product development, all of which constitute a Design Document Specification (DDS).
  • Development: The development process begins, and developers will often consult the DDS while turning requirements and prototypes into software products. 
  • Testing: After having completed the coding for the software, developers will run tests (either automatically or manually) to find and fix any error or bug. They need to check the functionality of the system and make sure it does not fall short of safety standards. The product will undergo testing repeatedly until engineers believe it is working properly. 
  • Deployment: Once the product is ready to be deployed, it will be officially delivered to the market. The time of release also depends on the organization’s strategy.

In many cases, before the official release, the product is offered to a limited segment of the market and goes through further testing in the real business environment, which is known as User Acceptance Testing (UAT).

  • Maintenance: Continuously monitoring the software’s performance post-release and providing timely maintenance services are crucial to guarantee its long-term success. This stage tends to end when the software is replaced by a new version or reaches the end of its life. End-users will appreciate bug fixes and new features that enhance their experience. 
  • Evaluation: The SDLC ends with the post-implementation review. Team members will measure the final product against the initial performance goals to see whether the product has met the previously stated objectives and requirements. 

2. What are the SDLC steps?

While the SDLC enlists the essential steps for developers, how the steps are defined and executed varies greatly between frameworks. The following examples show how SDLC is applied in some of the popular agile models. 

2.1. Scrum model

Introducing the Scrum model

The Scrum model, which falls under the Agile methodology, is among the most popular ones for developers – approximately 70% of development teams use scrum or scrum hybrid.

In essence, scrum represents an iterative and incremental approach to software development. The project is divided into different phases called sprints, and each sprint ends with a usable product to be shown to the customers. Their feedback will reveal any possible problem or necessary change. Such regular monitoring and refinement activities mean scrum-based projects demand a high level of involvement from stakeholders. 

Source: Scrum.org

The three major stakeholders are:

  • the product owner – who needs to address the needs and interests of end-users
  • the scrum master, who supervises the development process
  • the scrum team, who program, test, and complete the product.

Scrum models focus strongly on cooperation, teamwork, and responsibility. They facilitate an iterative approach to achieving a defined business goal. Thus, they have two major advantages: 

  • A transparent, well-structured plan of action encourages developers to commit to the project and finish their tasks on time.
  • Frequent feedback at the end of each sprint leads to timely adjustments and ensures the product’s quality. 

Nonetheless, there are also certain shortcomings:

  • Changes proposed by stakeholders may delay the delivery time
  • Discussions and adjustments made during the process may utilize more resources than expected.
  • If a team has not clearly defined its mission and vision, Scrum-based planning can be challenging. 

The 5 steps of a Scrum model

Step 1: Product Backlog Creation

A product backlog clarifies what features to be integrated into the development process. The items are arranged by priority and are called user stories with unique IDs. All user stories follow the same format: “As a [user role], I want to [goal] so that [benefit].”

Examples of user stories. Source: Justinmind

Step 2: Sprint Planning and Sprint Backlog Creation

First, it is essential to determine the sprint duration and sprint goal. The average sprint lasts about 2 – 4 weeks. Short sprint allows developers to deliver and receive customer feedback on the product’s working versions more frequently, thus identifying bugs and errors quickly. Meanwhile, longer sprints can allow developers to perform more thorough programming. 

The next step is creating a sprint backlog, which contains the user stories to be completed in a sprint. The scrum team must pick important user stories from the product backlog, turn them into a series of smaller tasks, and prepare a plan to finish them. 

Step 3. Working On Sprints

After the user stories have been chosen for the current sprint, the scrum team will begin their development process. A task board is specifically designed to monitor the working progress with the following columns: User Stories, To Do, Work In Progress, Testing, and Work Done. The cards on the task board, which contain user stories and task descriptions, can be arranged and moved between columns depending on their significance and level of completion. 

An example of a typical task board (Source: XBSoftware)

Another important step is scrum meetings, which help gain a veracious understanding of the current work speed, pinpoint problems, and ensure all team members are on the right track. These meetings’ outcomes are illustrated in burndown charts, which showcase the remaining time of work (on the X-axis) and the story points for the current phase (on the Y-axis).

Example of a burndown chart (Source: XBSoftware)

Scrum meetings and burndown charts are vital tools for managing progress and making suitable, timely adjustments.

Step 4. Product and Sprint Review

After each sprint, there must be a new, upgraded version of the product with greater values. It will undergo a full life cycle testing and be demonstrated to the customers for their feedback and approval. 

Additionally, the end part of every sprint is the sprint review. The results will be analyzed, while the stakeholders will make decisions about necessary changes and how they can improve the next sprint. 

Step 5. Retrospective and Next Sprint Planning

In this step, the purpose is to reflect on the current strengths and shortcomings, paving the way for the next sprint. Learning from what has been done can yield meaningful insights into the project, helping stakeholders plan the next iteration and improve their product. 

2.2. DevOps model

In the SDLC landscape, the DevOps approach is a newcomer. The term “DevOps” is a combination of “Development” and “Operations.” It emerges as the business world starts to value the collaboration between development and operations personnel during the SDLC process.

In a DevOps model, members from these departments work closely with each other to refine the product and regularly update on business objectives. It allows one unified team to operate the entire project, from planning, development to testing and deploying. The core of DevOps’ advantages rests on this dynamic. The benefits of using the DevOps model range from time optimization, effective communication among team members to ongoing quality enhancement. 

This approach is usually implemented in developing applications for large distributed platforms, such as e-commerce websites and cloud-native applications. A DevOps life cycle is constituted by the following phases: continuous development, continuous integration, continuous testing, continuous feedback, continuous monitoring, continuous deployment, and continuous operations. 

The seven phases of DevOps SDLC (Source: Cuelogic)

a. Continuous Development 

In the first phase of the DevOps lifecycle, the development team will devise a plan with achievable objectives to be delivered by their final product. Afterward, they can begin the development process. No specific DevOps tools are required to draw up a plan, but the code will be maintained by Version Control tools, which are software tools that allow developers to build a stable set of codes in use and make changes to the source code if needed. Several popular version control tools are TFS, GIT, Subversion, GitLab, Mercurial, etc.

b. Continuous Integration

Code integration is the core of a DevOps lifecycle. Developers generate new code to support additional functionalities, test and review it before integrating it into the existing code. The source code will undergo modification daily or weekly, the results of which will be new values added to the final product and a better experience for end-users. 

c. Continuous Testing 

In this phase, developers will frequently test the software for bugs by establishing a test environment and conducting automated testing. Compared to manual testing, reports of automated tests will help developers make faster and more accurate evaluations. 

Developers have a variety of choices for DevOps automated testing tools, which can also carry out tests according to a pre-set schedule. The continuous testing phase can be done prior to or after the continuous integration phase. 

d. Continuous Feedback

While continuous testing and integration ensure consistent improvements in the coding of the product, continuous feedback is when these changes are analyzed and validated. Developers will see whether the weekly releases and regular updates they make are welcomed by their consumers. 

In this phase, users will give feedback on how each released version of the product impacts their experience. These comments will be reported back to the DevOps team, helping them improve upcoming releases. Methods to gather them can be structured (through questionnaires, surveys, and focus group interviews) or unstructured (feedback from other platforms such as Facebook and Twitter). 

e. Continuous Monitoring

When monitoring the product’s performance, developers will promptly determine any system error or security issues that need to be fixed. By helping to maintain the software’s functionality and streamline its performance, continuous monitoring plays a vital role in product quality control.

Mostly involving IT staff, continuous monitoring is conducted with the help of tools such as ELK Stack, Splunk, Nagios, and NewRelic. Still,  they also allow operation members to actively participate in this phase. 

f. Continuous Deployment

After the software code has been validated and finalized, it will be deployed to production servers. At this stage, there will be no human staff manually checking and pushing the code into the software. Rather, it will be tested automatically, and if no issue is spotted, deployment will occur.

To ensure deployment is precise and effective, activities such as releasing code and scheduling updates must be automated and managed by configuration management tools – Puppet, Chef, and Ansible, to name a few. 

g. Continuous Operations

In this last phase, also the least complicated one, of the DevOps lifecycle, developers will automate the release of the product and its subsequent updates with shorter development cycles. As a result, they can achieve faster time-to-market while constantly providing new features and additional functionality. 

3. Frequently Asked Questions about SDLC

What is the most important factor of a software development process?

Humans are the most decisive factor in a software development process. Customers who have manageable expectations and can provide valuable inputs will be appreciated by the development team. Meanwhile, competent managers will resonate with customer demands with the capability of their current human resources and give precise instructions. 

How long will it take to build custom software for business use?

Various factors can influence the time it takes to develop a fully functional software. Each SDLC phase has different duration:

  • Planning and Requirement Defining: two to four weeks
  • Architecture Designing: two weeks
  • Product Building/Developing: three to eight months 
  • Implementation: two to four weeks
  • Testing and Maintenance: three to six weeks
  • Production: three weeks or above

In total, the average time for software development is four months to a year. 

What is an MVP?

MVP, which stands for a minimum viable product, is a version of the software product with just enough features and usability to get approval from early adopters. This version helps the product reach its users faster. These initial users’ feedback will facilitate the upcoming enhancements of its quality. Therefore, an MVP helps developers efficiently collect consumer insight with inconsiderable effort. 


The amount of time, money and other resources devoted to the development process can vary greatly, depending on specific business requirements. Therefore, choosing the right IT Service Provider with proficient tech and non-tech personnel is key to optimal return-of-investment, as well as the satisfactory completion of projects.

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