Diving Into Dev: The Software Development Life Cycle

Phases of the Software Development Life Cycle

At its most basic level, the software development life cycle is composed of a number of phases.

The five core phases of SDLC involve requirements analysis, design, development, testing and maintenance. Some experts add a sixth phase called deployment, or even a seventh phase, but the five core phases give a general idea of what's involved.

Each phase has its own requirements and deliverables that need to progress to the next phase.

The first phase is requirement gathering and analysis. This is the phase in which brainstorming happens to determine how a product will be used and what role it needs to play. This is also where teams get buy-in for a project.

The second phase is design – here the teams start putting effort into drawing the broader contours of the software product itself. They look at hardware specifications and how a piece of software will fit into a system architecture.

Implementation or coding is the next phase, which is the practical writing phase, and tends to be the most involved phase of the process, although design and testing are other candidates.

After that comes testing, another core phase that debugs and fine tunes the codebase.

The deployment phase involves getting a software product out to its intended user base.

The last phase, maintenance, addresses the production environment and what happens when the software is out in the world being used by end users. The ongoing professional guidance that the software product receives is the core maintenance that makes up this last phase.

Done right, these phases can optimize how a software project gets done.

“The Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) is the software development world’s spellcheck,” writes Robert Half. “It can flag errors in software creation before they’re discovered (at a much higher cost) in successive stages. But it’s much more than that, of course: SDLC can also lay out a plan for getting everything right the first time.”

However, the linear stages that software projects go through also benefit from higher-level frameworks or models that direct them. In the next page, we’ll talk about some of these models and how they work.

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Written by Justin Stoltzfus
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Justin Stoltzfus is a freelance writer for various Web and print publications. His work has appeared in online magazines including Preservation Online, a project of the National Historic Trust, and many other venues.