What is SDLC? Software Development Life Cycle Phases
SDLC stands for system development life cycle and is the acronym used to describe the construction and integration of information systems that store, process, and output data. This niche of work rests between information technology (IT) and engineering. It utilizes tangible hardware and intangible software elements to create the best systems possible for personal and professional uses.
The term originated in the 60s with the flower child generation. Originally, it was created with very large businesses in mind, such as large universities and famous companies like Microsoft. However, as the technology was improved and spread, it became more accessible to smaller businesses and start-ups.
SDLC requires several general stages of development in order to create a system for an individual or entity. Is it worth it for you to engage in this process?
Is SDLC for You?
SDLCs can be molded to work for the capacity and budget of entities that are of any size. A good rule of thumb is this—if a core part of your company revolves around software development, then you need SDLC. So, farmers, for example, may not want to waste their time and resources on this process. Neither would small coffee shops or boutique retailers.
However, accounting firms and technology companies likely would gain value from learning about and going through the SDLC process for their own system. Or, making sure that they are outsourcing their IT work to a company that knows about and prioritizes this system.
Main Phases of SDLC
SDLC work is typically outsourced to third parties when it is not the core service of an entity. The person performing the task usually has the title of “Software Tester” or “Quality Assurance Analyst,” and is hired by a person with money and idea, but limited tech experience.
There are seven generally accepted phases of SDLC:
- (1) Planning;
- (2) Analyzing feasibility;
- (3) Designing;
- (4) Coding;
- (5) Testing;
- (6) Implementing; and
- (7) Maintaining.
The following section will walk through what each of them entails. Pay special attention to phases 1 and 5, as this is where your participation will be most required. Clients can also take on more responsibility in stages 6 and 7, although this is completely optional.
Phase 1: Planning
When a person has an idea that requires a software system, they can reach out to developers such as AppKong to have the system made for them. Then, together, they will embark on planning. During this stage, the client will explain to the developers what their end goal looks like and what their expectations are.
The third party can also help their client develop reasonable expectations by taking advantage of the opportunity to present novel ideas and possible complications. Here, a potential budget and timeline can be discussed. However, these factors will not be confirmed until Phase 3 once the details are better carved out. By the end of this phase, both parties should have a good idea of what will be produced and when.
Phase 2: Feasibility Analysis
Once the project’s planning is taken care of, it is time for the person or entity in charge of the SDLC to walk through feasibility analysis. This essentially means that they will check what is possible and the extent in a large cost-benefit analysis. Some of the factors that should be considered in this stage include:
- The legality of the project;
- The project’s cost compared to its potential ability to save/earn;
- Is the client asking for something that can actually be designed; and
- The realistic timeline for completing the project.
If an issue is uncovered pertaining to one of these prongs, it does not mean certain death for the project. It just means that someone—typically the developer—must go back to the drawing board and find a way to tweak the plan in order to solve the problem. For example, if the existing plan is too expensive, the developer will need to find a corner where costs can be shaved.
Phase 3: Design
Once a feasible plan has been created, it is time to get to work on turning the magnificent idea into reality. This begins in the design phase. Here is where specialists will sit down and write out everything that is going to go into creating the system. For example, the required tools will be ascertained, as well as the steps that need to be performed to make the actual build.
Think about this stage like it is the planning stage of an essay. It is an outline of everything that has to be done with important steps to follow and tidbits of information to include. However, it is not the actual writing process. That is what comes next.
In addition to collecting and recording information in an organized manner, this is also a stage where the creation of flow charts will be very helpful. By the time this step is complete, the developer should have a master flowchart of everything that the system is going to be able to do and how it will do it all in the proper order.
Phase 4: Coding
Once designing the system, the hardest part, of the cycle is finished, it is finally time to actually construct the system into something tactile. Here, the developers will turn the design that they came up with into coding. The coding will then act as an instruction manual for the process that the system is running on.
There is no one correct way to engage in this part of the cycle. There are tons of different codes that developers can choose from, such as:
- R; and
What the developers choose to use is entirely dependent upon the unique call of the project. For example, codes with better security tools may be more suited for a system, whereas a different system may be fine trading in security for cost efficiency.
This stage and the one that comes right before it—design—are the two that should take the longest amount of time if the developers are doing their job correctly. This is where the most costs are incurred though. Expenses include the developers’ labor in addition to the tools required to actually build.
Phase 5: Testing
Once you make it to this stage, you will officially have a system. In a perfect world, the cycle could stop here. Unfortunately, this is not the world we live in. Even the best developers will still likely not be able to design and build a perfect system for their client or clients on the first try. So, they need to test it in order to check for:
- Weaknesses; and
- Opportunities for improvement.
From the end of phase one until now, the client has likely been waiting by the phone for the occasional update on how their project has been coming along. Here is the first stage since then where it makes sense for the client to get back involved.
After the developers edit the code so that there are no obvious errors, they can give the system to their client to test. The client will be in the best system to identify possible errors since they will use the system during testing as they would in real life.
Phase 6: Implementation
Once testing is completed, there are two routes that can be taken. Either the developer can implement the system for their client. Or, the developer can implement the system with their client. This depends on how tech-savvy their client is, and what their clients’ preferences are.
For example, if the client has an IT department, it would be the most efficient for the IT department to help implement since they are their own internal divisions’ experts. Chances are though, if a client is paying for development, they will likely want it implemented for them as well.
Implementation will involve incorporating the newly developed system into the client’s existing digital presence and processes. Because this stage has already been outlined during the planning, feasibility, and design stages, the implementation should be fairly easy.
Phase 7: Operations and Management
Finally, we arrive at stage 7—operations and management—which is a fancy way of saying system maintenance. Once the developer has completed the project for their client, the client can choose to keep on the developer for help if anything goes wrong in the future. Or, the client can study their system so that when issues arise, such as bugs, or when it is time for an upgrade, they can do it themselves. Again, this stage will vary greatly based on clients’ individual needs and desires.
Something that clients should make sure to talk to their developers about before the project is sealed is scaling. If the owner plans on scaling their project and hiring the services of their developer to do so, they should ask the developer to hang on to their systems’ data. That way, instead of starting from scratch for scaling, the developer will simply be able to pick up where they left off.
Agile Methodology for SDLC
There are different methodologies to choose from when engaging in SDLC. The following section will review the different options to choose from. Then, it will break down the details of one of the most common methodologies that you will probably want to use when it comes to building your system.
There are over 10 different models to choose from to follow the SDLC process when developing your new system. Some of the most popular options include:
- The Spiral Model;
- The V-Model;
- The Incremental Model;
- The Waterfall Model;
- The Big-Bang Model; and
- The Agile Model.
All of these methods were developed because someone thought they were better than one of the alternatives available. It is wise for you to learn about all of them before officially deciding which one you prefer. The Big-Bang method is better suited for small projects, for example, and minimizes the planning stage or cuts it out completely. In contrast, the Incremental Model heavily focuses on planning.
AppKong personally believes that the Agile Method is best, and will explain why below.
Why the Agile Methodology is Best
The word agile is defined as “able to move quickly and easily.” If you already know about the methodology, then you will find this name perfectly suited for what it represents. The defining feature of the Agile Method, also referred to as AM, is that it consists of building systems in small steps; then, those small steps are tested individually before being added to the system as a whole.
Conceptualize this process as the building of a home. Sure, you can throw the plumbing and HVAC of a home together quickly, and tell your client that if things leak or fail to work later, they can just fix the problems as they arise. However, if you are more careful while building and testing everything to make sure it works before installing it, the chances that problems arise later are reduced.
If this method is utilized, the chances of running into use problems during the main testing stage are significantly reduced. This method places the greatest emphasis on the jobs of the developers and the testing process. And, its goal is to proactively prevent problems as opposed to reacting to issues that arise, which ends up saving resources—especially money.
Chances are, you as a client will not want to deal with the constant headache of unexpected problems popping up because your developers were not careful the first time around. It is best to walk through the SDLC process as meticulously as possible to limit the amount of time and money that will be spent dealing with the problems later on.
Following the SDLC process is the best way to ensure that the creation of an information system runs as smoothly, effectively, and efficiently as possible. If you think that you have the expertise required to do it yourself, more power to you.
However, usually, it makes more sense for an individual or entity to contract out the system construction process to developers who specialize in SDLC. Even if you know how to create your own system, it would probably be a better utilization of your resources to have professionals do this for you while you dedicate your time and energy to managing and scaling your business.
Enlist the Help of AppKong
If you are in the market for a talented development team, look no further than AppKong. AppKong is a Ukraine-based development company that employs some of the most talented software developers in the world. Our employees are fluent in English and can cater to the communication needs of our clients. No matter the size of your business and budget, we have a plan for you.
System development is one of our specializations. And, our employees have been practicing SDLC since before some of you were even alive! If you need more convincing, just take a look at some of the customer testimonials on our website. Hear from our clients how reliable and talented our staff is.
So, what are you waiting for? Contact AppKong today to get started on Stage 1 of your system development life cycle—planning!