The software development life cycle

Warning: If you’re reading this, you most likely hold the position of the engineering manager or software developer. The following information has been gathered by relevant professionals and represents a brief, yet comprehensive, perspective on the software development life cycle process.

Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) is a framework that clearly defines what tasks must be performed at each stage, from the drawing board through the continuous enhancement stage.

The SDLC’s ultimate mission is to help the development team build a digital product on time, on budget, and on scope (looks like exactly what you’re looking for, right?).

software development life cycle

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Generally, each piece of software goes through seven separate and distinct stages of its life cycle: planning, defining requirements, design, development, testing, deployment, maintenance...and then — you get a successful solution. If you know what it is all about, of course.


In the initial phase, the team should join forces to make sure project goals are identified and an agile long-term plan for the upcoming project is determined. The major activities include:

  • Analyzing the scope and validity of the intended product
  • Creating a brief plan
  • Estimating time and cost, prioritizing the specific tasks
  • Defining requirements

Requirement gathering covers all the succeeding stages of the SDLC so that all stakeholders are on the same page regarding the workflow and expected results.

  • Studying the needs of end-users through interviews and surveys
  • Preparing a detailed analysis of the entire project
  • Brainstorming on alternative solutions for possible problems


During this phase, the overall system architecture is established. It is then fixed in a Design Document Specification (DDS) and includes all the desired functionality. The chosen variant becomes the foundation for all the next stages of software product production.


The system construction stage is a key activity in the whole project. Its successful implementation comprises:

  • Building the system that addresses all previously documented specifications
  • Testing and integrating the units and modules into larger components
  • Preparing the technical environment for the system
  • Approving the development phase deliverables and proceeding to the test phase


Testing early helps to mitigate risks such as being behind schedule and overspending due to errors and bugs as well as imperfect components. Software testing engineers write test cases, execute them, and compare the anticipated result with an actual one in order to ensure the system operates as intended.


The delivery stage implies deploying the new system in a production environment, training end-users, and final preparation before the solution operation.


During the maintenance phase, the team makes necessary adjustments and enhancements to make sure the system stays in sync with the project’s business goals. Other important tasks are supporting the end-users through training and documentation, solution performance monitoring, and taking the required security measures (backups, audits, etc.).

The above-described seven-step SDLC framework has lots of “alter-egos.” And only you can decide which one to channel. The common methodologies are as follows: … . You can strictly follow one of the existing SDLC models or mix them to reach maximum productivity in your particular case.

Why is the SDLC important?

Creating a carefully coordinated software development life cycle has tons of perks for all parties interested. Developers clearly understand what they should do and why; business owners release their systems with less stress and less cost; and users, in their turn, get a much-coveted whatever-they-like in a more stable and enjoyable way.

But remember that the cycle does not have a finish. It’s all about continuous refinement. That’s why in order to make the system flawless, stakeholders must come together to discuss all the objectives from different perspectives and choose the right path to the fulfillment of every single detail of your vision.

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