The Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) is a systematic process that allows developers to create high-quality software by defining a short production time. The SDLC is aimed at developing superior products or software that meet the expectations and requirements of users. It helps developers navigate a well-defined plan or outline that comprises multiple stages. Every stage may have sub-stages or phases along with its own process.

It is widely used to ensure quality control and enhance the speed of development while minimizing associated risks. Therefore, the SDLC is the most efficient and effective route for production in order to exceed user demands. 

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Stages of Software Development Life Cycle

As discussed, the SDLC has several stages, which are as follows:

Stage 1: Planning and Requirement Analysis

Requirement analysis and planning are preceded by identifying current problems that users face to offer valuable solutions to customers. The insights gained from identifying current problems help come up with a workable plan, which includes aspects, such as costs, material, calculation of labor, and a timeline. When planning, it is crucial to involve the stakeholders and parties that would benefit from the applications of the product for feedback. This stage clearly outlines the scope of the project and defines boundaries that are required to be considered to prevent the project from expanding beyond its scope.

Stage 2: Defining Requirements

After planning and defining the scope of the project, the production team defines and documents requirements which require to be approved by the stakeholders. This definition of requirements includes the uses of the application or software, its features, and potential roadblocks that might be encountered. Further, it is crucial to identify the resources and build them into the project.

Stage 3: Designing the Product Architecture

The designing phase outlines the working of the model and other aspects of the design, some of which are as follows-

  • Programming: Identifying the programming language to be used for developing the software and how the software will perform tasks and solve problems.
  • User Interface: Determining how users will interact with the application or software and its response to specific inputs from users.
  • Security: Measures, such as password protection, secure data storage, and SSL encryption, that will be taken to make sure the software is secure enough.
  • Communication: defining the mechanism of communication between the software and other assets, such as a central server.
  • Platforms: List out platforms that can be used to host the software, such as Android, iOS, Windows, Linux, etc.
  • Architecture: This includes the templates for the software, its overall design, specific programming languages to be used, and the industry practices to follow.

The product architecture also comprises designing a prototype, which serves as an early version of the software to demonstrate how the software will look, function, and respond. Developing a prototype is helpful as it allows the team to make the needed changes, which is less expensive compared to changes involved in the development stage.

Stage 4: Building or Developing the Product

At this stage, the developer or the development team actually starts writing the program. When a whole team of developers is involved in developing a product or software, the task of software development is divided into several parts and each team member works on a specific part.

Stage 5: Testing the Product

Once the software is developed, it requires to be tested to check if it performs as it is supposed to. It is specifically an important stage of the SDLC as, when the software is developed, it is done so in parts. Testing allows one to combine all these parts of the software and test how the software as a whole performs and whether all its parts integrate well.

Any glitches, bugs, or issues are identified and addressed to ensure that the software runs smoothly. This stage allows developers to ensure a higher usage rate and improved satisfaction in users.

Stage 6: Deployment in the Market and Maintenance

Once the software passes through the phase of testing and all the bugs are resolved, it is ready to be rolled out and made available to the users. The software can be deployed both manually or in an automated fashion based on its needs and its complexity.

Every software requires continuous maintenance and support so that any newly occurring bugs or those that could not be discovered during the testing phase are addressed. This is an important step as it allows developers to constantly work on the quality of the software, which directly impacts user experience.  

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How Does the SDLC Work?

The Software Development Life Cycle works by creating an outline of each task that needs to be accomplished for deploying software. This helps add more efficiency to the software development process while also reducing costs. Organizations make use of the SDLC to ensure that every task is completed within the stipulated time frame while adhering to the decided budget.

The Role of Security in the SDLC

The initial models of SDLC focused on security only in the testing phase. However, the downside of doing so is that many bugs go unnoticed in other stages of the SDLC process, resulting in a high number of bugs later. Therefore, security has a greater role to play in the newer models of SDLC, wherein security activities are integrated into every phase of development to create highly reliable and bug-free software. Popularly referred to as Secure SDLC, this concept involves security assessments in all phases of software development.

Why Is the SDLC Important?

The SDLC is of great importance as it provides developers with a standardized procedure with well-defined deliverables and activities. With an SDLC framework, you can estimate, schedule, and plan different aspects efficiently and have greater control over the project. Moreover, every aspect of the project is clearly visible, and it becomes easier to showcase these aspects to the stakeholders. With the help of the SDLC, you can use your resources more consciously, improve the speed of development, and minimize risks.

Advantages and Disadvantages of SDLC

While the SDLC has clear advantages to it, there are also a few disadvantages associated with it. With that said, here are the advantages and disadvantages of SDLC.

Advantages of SDLC

  • It offers a clear view of the overall project and every aspect of it, along with the developers involved and cost as well as timeline estimates.
  • The SDLC plan helps project managers create a base cost for the project based on the resources that need to be leveraged for execution.
  • It helps clearly define the standards and goals.
  • When something does not go as expected, it allows the development team to go to the prior step to assess and make the needed changes.

Disadvantages of SDLC

The SDLC is based on certain assumptions made during the requirement analysis and planning phases. However, when basing the consequent stages on these assumptions, certain unexpected elements may create complications. This might need a change of plan or reframing of the whole process, which can waste time and resources. Additionally, the SDLC may sometimes be too rigid and may offer little to no flexibility.

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SDLC Methodologies

Software development has various approaches, and each of these approaches has its own characteristics. Therefore, based on your needs, you can choose one of these SDLC methodologies:

1. Waterfall

A linear methodology, waterfall requires the developer to complete the prior step before moving on to the next one. This approach allows an organization to monitor feasibility through each step of development.

2. Agile

This approach revolves around the input and experience of users to resolve issues. Therefore, it is largely feedback-based and is more aligned with the changing needs of the market.

3. Iterative

The iterative approach relies on an initial version of the software, to which changes are made in smaller iterations. This approach is effective for large and complex applications.

4. DevOps

Much like the agile approach, DevOps aims to enhance the relevance and usability of the software based on feedback from users. It also allows a great degree of collaboration among team members to address every aspect of the product.

5. Spiral

This approach is an assimilation of the iterative and the sequential waterfall approach. Therefore, there is refinement through every step and incremental releases.

6. V-Model

The verification or validation model, known commonly as the V-model, follows a sequence like a waterfall, but in a V shape. This approach involves testing in each development phase rather than testing being a single phase of the process.

7. Big Bang

The big bang approach involves little planning or a proper flow of the process. It starts with the needed funding and resources. This approach is generally used for very small and simple projects.

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The Software Development Life Cycle is a core part of the software development process. It can ease the whole process by clearly defining every aspect of software development. When planned by software development professionals with great insights into the intricacies of the requirements and the purpose of the software, it becomes easier for an organization to build an application that users find immensely useful. 

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