Software Development Life Cycle: From Idea to Implementation

August 22, 2019
#SoftwareDevelopment #Programming

The software development life cycle is a systematic representation of software development. This guide will help you learn how to complete your projects efficiently.

The software development life cycle provides an organization of development of entire systems from start to finish. But it's not the only kind of SDLC. There is also a system development life cycle. A scaled-up version that focuses specifically on larger systems and provides a plan for developers to adhere to. The clients can also use it as a guideline. It gives a representation of the whole duration of the work through set methods.

How the Software Development Life Cycle Works

A well-implemented SDLC improves the quality of the project while shortening the required time. Having a streamlined approach means you can avoid common pitfalls and stay focused on the requirements. Having a clear task at hand keeps the team conscious so they won’t need to spend time correcting mistakes later.

The application development process is rarely fully complete. Whenever bugs are discovered they need to be fixed. The requests for new features and general improvements are common. The whole process is cyclical regardless of the approach you use. 

There is a difference between software and system development life cycle. They are structured the same way, follow the equivalent stages and are a part of corresponding models. However, when the former stops at the software, the latter has a more holistic approach.

The system development life cycle provides a framework on which the whole work is structured. There are methodologies based predominantly on the detailed reports to the client after each stage. It enables both project managers and the client to monitor the progress in a comprehensive and effective fashion. Also, there are services that help you manage this process. They are called version control systems.

Stages of Software Development

In general, there are seven distinct SDLC phases. Each team can modify them to better suit their workflow, but the basic framework looks like this:

system development life cycle

1. Planning

The pre-development encompasses all of the preparatory discussions with the clients regarding their demands. The estimation and feasibility assessment are executed to examine the viability and to ensure that the budget is appropriate. A document detailing the requirements of the client is created.

2. Analysis

An in-depth evaluation finds a way to efficiently implement the requirements. The team decides on what technologies are suitable for the project and specify the costs and technical resources required. Back-up plans are also established. If anything doesn’t go according to plan, it is safer to have something to fall back on if the need arises.

3. Design

This stage consists of two smaller stages defining the project’s overall structure.

High-level design:

  • Rough UI
  • The basics of the database tables
  • Underlying architecture and technology
  • Modules, their functionality, and interaction between them

Low-level design:

  • Detailed database tables 
  • The specifics of the interface and its elements
  • Work on the dependency issues
  • The functionality of modules, their complete inputs, and outputs

Both of them are handled only by experienced developers to provide the strongest possible foundation. The end result of these two stages becomes the base for the following work.

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4. Implementation

In accordance with the established stipulations, the team writes the code itself. They develop the components and features. It is often separated into smaller parts since it takes the longest time out of all the stages.

5. Testing

There are several approaches. It can be done automatically via continuous integration or manually by the QA team. Often the projects require a mix of both. Testing follows a simple formula:

  • Creating the test cases
  • Executing the cases

After the QA department confirms that the code is as bug-free as possible, it’s pushed to deployment.

6. Deployment

In order to see whether the requirements are met, a user acceptance test (UAT) is executed. It’s done to see how the application functions in an independent environment. If the results are satisfactory, the software is launched. There may be several UATs before the release.

7. Maintenance

In order to stay relevant, the software requires updates. Also, problems may be discovered in the course of general usage after the release. This establishes the necessity of ongoing support. This is covered by SLA (service level agreement) that is written at the start.

Software Development Life Cycle Models

sdlc models waterfall


This approach doesn’t have any client involvement outside of the initial planning and conclusion. Waterfall got its name due to its sequential structure. Until the previous one is finished, the subsequent step doesn’t start. It’s more suited for projects of a smaller scale with fixed requirements. Once the feature list is agreed upon, it won’t be modified.

Big bang

A high-risk methodology for small projects. It has no planning, analysis or any type of established structure. There’s no QA. The focus is solely on coding. This approach is easy to comprehend and is geared towards small teams and academic practice projects where the requirements aren’t clear. It isn’t suitable for complex long-term projects.

sdlc models


Another sequential methodology with a focus on rigorous quality assurance. It is done in parallel with development, maximizing the stability. It is comprehensible and has simple integration, but doesn’t allow quite as much flexibility for changes.


The development is separated into simpler independent parts. Each follows the following cycle: inception, elaboration, construction, and transition. The inception stage is responsible for planning. During elaboration, the team creates the underlying architecture. Construction covers the coding itself and QA. Transition is when the deployment takes place. The combination of these complete parts becomes the final result.


The client is an integral part of the process. After every stage, they receive a detailed report. They can request additional features and make suggestions at any point. Many forms of this approach exist, however, Scrum is the most commonly used. It consists of short Sprints when the team actively collaborates to reach predetermined goals. They are carefully planned and the results of each are reported. One sprint usually lasts two weeks.

sdlc models


It combines the iterative and the prototype models. It has four parts: planning, risk analysis, engineering, and evaluation. The cycle starts small and repeats increasing the scale and adding features with each loop. The main benefit of the Spiral methodology is the early functionality of the product that only becomes more robust with time. In addition, extra features may be integrated with each cycle.


The developers create a mockup before starting to work on the project itself. This ensures that it is feasible. Its feature list is limited in comparison to the intended result. These mockups are shown to the client and if they are satisfied, they are transformed into a complete application.

In Conclusion

Adhering to a system development life cycle process makes your work more efficient by breaking it down into separate parts. The seven stages take the client’s idea from an intangible concept to a complete and functional product. Regardless of the methodology you choose, having a systematic approach makes software development more organized, streamlined, and easier to evaluate.

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