Software Development Life Cycle: the 7 Phases of SDLC

Software Development

In an age in which we rely mostly on digital technology, software development is critical in making everything work. However, a detailed plan is crucial for any technological wonder to come to life. Thus, we have seven crucial phases of the software development life cycle (SDLC). This guide will take you through each phase and explain each part of the process.

If you are a software developer, you and your teams will need to plan everything out for each stage to make sure you check everything on that list with strategic objectives and pass the tests of the quality assurance specialists. This includes the testing phase (including customer beta testing) and others.

Software development can be a challenge. But with regular testing and tweaking, you can improve something that people may rely on for their personal or professional purposes. You could be helping business owners make their activities more efficient with whatever task they want to automate.

With that said, let’s dive in and explain the SDLC and break down all seven of its steps.

What is the software development life cycle (SDLC)?

The software development life cycle or SDLC are standard business practices that tie into the development of software applications. Even though there are seven phases, some of them will get it done in as little as six and as much as ten. If you want the best results, it’s important to follow all seven accordingly.

The development of high-quality software and systems relies on each of these phases. A properly conducted software development process will help fix any existing bugs, allow accurate functionality testing, and make the necessary adjustments to deliver user-friendly software. Once the project manager’s feedback is back and all systems work accordingly, the deployment phase will be good to go.

We’ll be taking a look at the seven distinct phases: Planning, Requirements, Design and Prototyping, Development, Testing, Deployment, and Operations and Maintenance. 

software development life cycle

1. Planning

The first one is the planning stage. This phase sets the tone and allows project managers to develop objectives and project terms. The entire process involves a bit of number crunching since the planning phase is all about numbers and requires a preliminary plan per the customer requirements and estimated costs.

It is now that a timetable will be set. Certain goals will need to be set for the software project, and specific dates need to be established. The team will be assembled, and the leadership structure should be developed at this point.

If any stakeholders are involved with the project, they will provide feedback when necessary. Also, customer feedback will be required, and the team will also need feedback from other parties involved, such as the developers and sales representatives.

Detailed planning is essential for the success of any development activity and high-quality systems that fulfill customer expectations and allow business owners to achieve their business goals.

2. Requirements

This stage of development focuses on project requirements and how the software application should function. It should include the program’s major function serving as the centerpiece. The requirement stage of the process of software development is where project requirements are gathered and analyzed. This is performed through various methods, including interviews, focus groups, surveys, and document analysis.

The output of this stage is a requirements document that details what the final product must do. This document forms the basis for the rest of the project life cycle and must be approved by all stakeholders before work can begin on the design and development phases.

For example, if you are developing a CRM for a sales team, one of the features should be an indicator of how far along you and a customer are through the sales process. Or, if the software is being designed to control a certain machine, it will need the machine itself to meet the definite functional requirements.

software engineer

3. Design and prototype

The design phase sees the application with all definitive aspects in place. The design process will include the application’s architecture, such as the overall design, as well as the user interface to ensure user-friendliness.

At this phase, the design specifications should be clear, and the software’s compatibility should already be decided. Will it be compatible with iOS? Will it also be compatible with Windows, Android, etc.?

The programming language and the problem-solving phase will also be part of this. What language will it be written in? C++ or something else? What are the security measures of the developed software? Will there be password protection, SSL encryption, or something different?

4. Development

At this point, the software development team will begin to create the program. The development of software can be done by one person or a team of developers. They will already have a source code available for use.

Meanwhile, the engineers will develop and keep track of any changes made to the software application, including changes to the source code. This will also allow them to keep an eye on any errors and bugs that may exist. This is one of the development stages that can require multiple tests to ensure that everything is going smoothly.

At the same time, the project team involved in the development may also write up guides for users, including troubleshooting common issues and an FAQ to help them better understand the software.


5. Testing

The testing stage is where different types of testing will be conducted in a specific and controlled testing environment. The testing team will test the user interface, security, and everything in between. This phase will take as long as possible before the software application is released to the public.

The development team will test for security vulnerabilities, functionality issues, processing issues, and much more. There may be multiple testing phases for software applications since nothing is expected to come out perfectly.

6. Deployment

All software development lifecycles culminate with the deployment stage. This sixth phase is when the application is released to the public. The deployment phase can be rolled out manually or automated depending on the company’s priorities.

If the process is automated, the people subscribed to an email list will simply receive the download link. That email will be scheduled via their email marketing platform to send at a specific date and time. The application itself can also be available on the company’s website. Finally, it may be available on the App Store (iOS) or Google Play (Android).

7. Operations and Maintenance

With the application already being used by the public, the maintenance phase is aimed at solving issues or bugs discovered by users since the release. At the same time, the maintenance stage may also involve cross-functional teams working on additional features to be released in an upgraded version of the application.

As soon as upgrades are available, users will have the opportunity to install the newer version. They may be notified via email, or the app can also be updated automatically without the user having to take any action.

The Models of SDLC

Waterfall Model

The Waterfall Model is among the most common models in SDLC. This simple model approach is a straightforward process that requires people to perform the tasks of distinct work phases before moving on to the next ones.

There are project plans that team members must follow to avoid issues that may arise in the next phase. Delays can occur, and as a result, major problems in the project can be possible.

project management in software development

Spiral Model

The Spiral Model is more flexible. Typically, projects using this model will repeatedly go through four phases (hence the name spiral). The Spiral model is standard for large and complex software development projects.


The V-Model is a similar version to the Waterfall model. The timeline is stringent and requires a well-disciplined development team. The V-Model includes the verification phase and validation phase.

Testing phases will occur to catch any bugs or critical issues. This appears to improve the Waterfall model, claiming that it addresses some of its small flaws.

Final Thoughts

The Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) is simple and straightforward. Now that you know how it all works, this will give you a better understanding of how every application is developed. As a software developer, knowing which phase you’re in and what you need to do during that time is essential.

Make sure that you and your team cover your bases to transform software specifications into reliable software solutions. Test accordingly and ensure the process is smooth and seamless for fluid life cycle phases. The finished software product may not be perfect, but your users can help make the application function a lot better after its public release.

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