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    What is Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC)? [A Simple Yet Complete Guide]

    Tuhin Bhatt's image.
    Co-founder of LAD

      Published on September 20, 2023

      8 min read


    If you are reading this article, chances are that you are doing so with software.

    Software is a program or set of instructions used by your computer to perform specific tasks.

    Before you opt for a software development company, knowing its life cycle is crucial.

    Software Development Life Cycle is the breakdown of processes involved in creating software to ensure the production of high-quality, low-cost software, in the shortest possible time.

    Developers called project teams collaborate and follow a well-detailed plan to ensure the smooth execution of software.

    The main goal is to reduce the risk of software failure and meet consumer expectations during production and beyond.

    Have you ever wondered how your interactive and smart software is being developed?

    You have come to the right place!

    In this article, we will run you through the process of software development life cycle.

    Without further ado, let us dive right in.

    Phases of SDLC

    SDLC, like any other project, has the following phases:

    • Planning
    • Analysis
    • Design
    • Implementation
    • Testing
    • Deployment
    • Maintenance and Support


    This is the first phase where the project is being defined.

    The project team identifies the needs and goals of the project, gathers the requirements from the stakeholders, and analyzes the feasibility of the project’s cost, time, and resources.


    This is the second phase where the software is being designed.

    In this phase, the project team designs the software architecture. They plan the data flow, structure, and model the software behavior and functionality.


    This is the third phase where the software is being detailed and refined.

    The project team designs the user interface, database, and software components of the system, and specifies how they will interact with each other.


    This is the fourth phase where the software is being coded and tested.

    The project team writes the code for the software, performs unit testing to check each component, and integrates them together to test the whole software.


    This is the fifth phase where the software is being verified and validated.

    The project team conducts software testing to check if it meets requirements and specifications.

    They conduct user acceptance testing to check if the software meets the user’s expectations and needs.

    They also conduct regression testing to check if any changes or updates affect the system functionality.


    This is the sixth phase where the system is being deployed and used.

    The project team plans how to deploy the software to the target environment.

    They train users on how to use the software and put in place a rollout strategy to ensure a smooth transition.

    Maintenance and Support

    This is the seventh phase where the software is being maintained and supported.

    The project team tracks and fixes any bugs or errors in the software.

    They provide updates and enhancements to improve the software performance or features.

    They also consider end-of-life issues such as migration or decommissioning of the software.

    SDLC Methodologies

    SDLC usually depends on the methodology and the software development KPIs of the organization.

    These software development methodologies are models that help teams deliver high-quality software as quickly and cost-effectively as possible.

    Understanding each model, when to use it, and the pros and cons of each one are important to know which one is suitable for the project context.

    They include:

    • Waterfall
    • Agile
    • Scrum
    • Kanban
    • DevOps

    Waterfall model

    Waterfall is a traditional project management model that follows a linear and sequential process.

    It divides the project into different phases, such as planning, design, implementation, testing, and deployment.

    Each phase must be always completed before moving on to the next one, and there is little room for changes or revisions once a phase is done.



    • Waterfall is simple, structured, has clear documentation, and predictable results.
    • Waterfall is rigid and slow.
    • It also has a high risk of late error detection.

    Agile software development

    Agile is a modern project management methodology that embraces change and uncertainty.

    It is usually based on the principles and values of the Agile Manifesto, which emphasizes collaboration, customer satisfaction, working software, and continuous improvement.

    Agile breaks down the project into smaller and iterative cycles, called sprints or iterations, where the project team delivers incremental value to the customer or user.

    Pros Cons
    • Agile is flexible and customer-centric.
    • It enables collaboration and efficiency.
    • Agile requires a cultural shift, challenging to measure, and can lead to potential chaos.

    Scrum (software development)

    Scrum is one of the most popular frameworks for implementing the agile method.

    It organizes the project into sprints, which are time-boxed iterations that could last between two to four weeks.

    The project team consists of three roles: the product owner, who represents the customer or user; the scrum master, who facilitates the process; and the development team, who delivers the work.

    The scrum framework also involves four events: sprint planning, daily scrum, sprint review, and sprint retrospective; and three artifacts: product backlog, sprint backlog, and increment.

    Pros Cons
    • Scrum is transparent and visible.
    • It is also adaptable. This enables the project team to deliver value incrementally and incorporate feedback into each sprint.
    • It gives development teams autonomy and ownership over their work.
    • Scrum can be demanding, complex, and dependent on external factors.


    Kanban is another framework for implementing the agile method.

    It is based on the concept of visualizing the workflow using a Kanban board that shows the status of each task or work item.

    The Kanban board consists of columns that represent different stages of the workflow, such as to-do, in progress, and done.

    The Kanban board also has limits on how many work items can be in each column at any given time. This helps to prevent bottlenecks or overloading in the workflow.

    The Kanban framework follows four principles: visualize work; limit work in progress; manage flow; and improve collaboration.

    Pros Cons
    • Kanban is simple and easy to use, requiring minimal setup or training for the project team members.
    • Kanban is flexible and customizable.
    • Kanban can be vague and ambiguous, as it does not have a clear definition of done or a fixed scope or timeline for the project.
    • Kanban can be passive and reactive, as it does not have a proactive planning or prioritization process for the work items.


      DevOps is a method that aims to bridge the gap between development and operations teams.

      It is usually based on the idea of integrating and automating the processes of software development, testing, deployment, and monitoring.

      DevOps also promotes a culture of collaboration, feedback, and learning among the project team members and stakeholders.

      DevOps uses various tools and technologies to support its practices, such as cloud computing, containerization, configuration management, continuous integration and delivery, and monitoring and logging.

      Pros Cons
      • It is fast and reliable, reducing the time-to-market and increasing the quality and availability of the software products or services.
      • It is innovative and competitive, enabling the project team to deliver value and satisfaction to the customers or users through frequent updates and enhancements.
      • It is productive and efficient, optimizing the use of resources and eliminating waste and redundancy in the workflow.
      • It can be difficult to adopt, as it requires a cultural change within the organization and a high level of skill and expertise from the project team members.
      • It can be expensive, as it requires investment in new tools and technologies.
      • It can be risky, as it involves frequent changes and deployments, which can introduce errors or vulnerabilities in the software products or services.

      Benefits of Software Development Life Cycle

      Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) offers several benefits:

      • Improved Project Management

      SDLC provides a structured framework for managing software projects, including defining objectives, resource allocation, and progress monitoring.

      • Better Quality Assurance

      SDLC ensures software meets customer requirements and industry standards, reducing the risk of errors and enhancing quality through early detection and correction.

      • Enhanced Communication

      SDLC fosters effective collaboration among team members and stakeholders, facilitating transparent feedback and reporting.

      • Cost-Effectiveness

      SDLC reduces software development cost and time by avoiding rework, optimizing resource utilization, and delivering value to customers.

      • Scalability

      SDLC supports scalability and adaptability, accommodating changes, enhancements, and integration with other systems or platforms.

      Challenges in SDLC

      Despite its benefits, SDLC also faces some challenges in the software industry, such as:

      • Scope creep

      Uncontrolled expansion or changes in project scope due to unclear requirements, shifting expectations, or inadequate planning.

      • Changing requirements

      Frequent modifications or additions to project requirements are driven by evolving customer preferences, market trends, or technological advancements.

      • Resource constraints

      Limitations or shortages of essential resources like skilled personnel, financial support, and technical tools.

      • Risk management

      Identifying and mitigating potential threats such as technical issues, operational disruptions, or external factors like cyberattacks.


      SDLC provides a comprehensive and systematic process for developing high-quality and functional software products or services.

      Yet, SDLC also faces some challenges that need careful planning and management.

      Thus, it is important for software professionals to implement SDLC effectively and efficiently.

      Moreover, it is also important to recognize that SDLC is not a static or fixed methodology.

      Rather, it is an evolving and dynamic methodology that needs to adapt to the changing needs and demands of the software industry.

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      Co - Founder

      Tuhin Bhatt is a co-founder of London App Development (LAD), a leading Web and Mobile App Development Company. He helps passionate entrepreneurs build amazing tech products. Tuhin being a peoples man who has a passion to share his technical expertise with clients and other enthusiasts.

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