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Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) is a detailed plan outlining and defining tasks performed in every stage of software development. It is a conceptual framework showing the processes involved in planning, building, executing, and maintaining the software.

The main goal of SDLC is to create and deliver a high-quality product or service, which will meet your customer’s needs. It covers software’s complete life cycle, from its inception through to deployment and maintenance.

The development team follows the SDLC structure to produce quality software that meets deadlines and surpasses customer expectations and cost estimates.

To fully understand SDLC, this article covers a comprehensive definition of the software development life cycle, its phases and models, and best practices.

What Is SDLC (Software Development Life Cycle)?

SDLC is a process model comprising cumbersome activities involved in requirement identification, implementation, execution, and maintenance of software.

When developing software, programmers have to draft a project idea, take it through the various stages of development, test, and release it.

While some steps may be combined, project leaders use the SDLC model to analyze every stage in detail. As the demand for software and developers keeps rising, this practice is now becoming commonplace as it enhances the development process.

This framework enables companies to reduce their software development costs, lower the delivery time, and meet the design requirements as per customer’s needs.

SDLC enables developers to achieve these goals by determining areas of inefficiencies and blotted costs and taking the necessary action for the smooth running of projects.

1. Requirement Extraction and Analysis

This phase entails gathering all the relevant information from the customer to ensure the product developed meets their expectations.

The customer may not have a complete idea of what the software will look like but any ambiguities should be cleared by collaborating with software engineers and the sales department.

The most essential information to be provided includes details about the product, its purposes, and how it should work.

At this stage, the software developers should design the terms of the project by creating target goals, project teams, and leadership structure.

The developers should also calculate material costs and labor, while communicating and obtaining feedback from project stakeholders (customers, sales reps., and subject matter experts).

With this knowledge, the developers should conduct an analysis to determine if developing the product or software is feasible.

The software engineers should also document the ideas about the product in a Software Requirement Specification (SRS) document. The contents of this document should be clear to the developers, and the customer should be able to use it for future reference.

2. Design

This phase entails designing the system architecture and outlining the functionalities of each module. The developers also design the interaction between the software and third-party modules.

Creating the ideal software requires using the requirements in the SRS document as inputs into the process. The main output derived is the software architecture, which is used for executing the system development.

Developers can also develop prototypes at the design stage. A prototype demonstrates the basics of the end product; it is an earlier version of the software, which the developers can show to stakeholders.

The owners of the software can then propose changes to be made to the application, making it easier to rewrite code rather than making reviews during the development stage.

3. Software Development or Coding

The development phase of the software development life cycle starts once the developers have the design document and prototype of the end product.

The design is written into a code, and the product is built according to the company’s set standards. The developers adhere to the best guidelines and practices to ensure they apply programming tools to develop a high-quality product.

Identifying and fixing glitches and errors during this phase is crucial as any problems during the development phase can affect the running of the application. It is also essential to note down useful tutorials about complex tasks to guide users during the first launch.

A written document in the form of troubleshooting guides or user guides can help users resolve technical issues that may arise during testing or deployment.

4. Product Testing

This phase of the software development life cycle precedes the execution of the final product. It starts after coding is complete and the modules are made available for testing.

The developers can automate some aspects of product testing, such as security testing.

For complex deployments, developers may require a practical scenario, such as a simulated production environment. The objective of testing is to ensure that every component of the software is working as expected and in sync with other parts linked to it.

Performance tests are done to detect and rectify processing lags and hangs while minimizing the number of glitches likely to affect users.

Reference is made to the SRS document to test and retest the software until the product meets the customer’s standards.

Successful product testing indicates the product’s performance is satisfactory, hence, a good usage rate.

5. Deployment 

The developers release or launch the final version of the software in the production environment.

Prior to this process, User Acceptance Testing (UAT) can be performed to determine if the software is acceptable or not. It is done after the completion of system, functional, and regression testing.

The main objective of UAT is to ensure the software meets the business requirements. It is a process conducted by the end-users who understand the business strategy.

When the product is deployed through UAT, the developers create a replica of the production environment, and both the software engineers and the customer perform the testing.

The customer signs off the go-live once they are satisfied the software meets the business expectations.

6. Maintenance

Following the release of the software, frequent maintenance should be done to change the system architecture to meet the future needs of the market or customer.

Maintenance may require altering the existing code or adding a new one. It is essential for developers to fix system glitches and to enhance the product’s standards to avoid exposure to glitches and virus attacks.

Software development is streamlined using different models. Developers can choose to follow any of the popular models in the software development life cycle.

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