by Nicolas Jacobeus, on 3 March 2021
The Software development life cycle (SDLC) comprises a series of processes useful for building high-quality software products. The SDLC serves as a map that business owners and the software development team can follow to ensure friction doesn't build up throughout the software development process.
There are seven SDLC phases (or stages). But these phases might extend to eight or even be shrunken down to just five, depending on the nature of the project. In all cases, though, proper execution of tasks in every stage of the SDLC will help speed up the development process and prevent additional costs from springing up.
It's one thing to have a great SaaS idea; it's another thing to put the ideas into writing and then map out an execution strategy. The planning phase is where product owners outline their ideas, define their expectations, decide on the project duration, and consider the cost of developing the product.
The planning phase plays a crucial role in the software development process, as proper planning shields brands from wasting time and money.
The requirement or feasibility analysis phase is like a continuation of the planning phase. At this stage, business owners gather input from stakeholders, developers, architects, and subject matter experts (SMEs) to properly define user expectations for the software product.
Successful products address the needs of a target market. So among other vital things, the feasibility analysis further clarifies the purpose of the software application and its functionalities.
This SDLC phase is where architects and developers begin the software design and prototyping. At this stage, designers and developers map out the user interface (UI) design, determine the platforms on which users would use the product (e.g., Android, Linux, or Apple), and decide on the programming language to use in building the application. Prototyping also comes in at this phase.
Prototypes are early versions of software applications that give product owners an idea of what to expect in the final product. It's advisable to welcome feedback from business owners (and even prospective users) at this stage. Early feedback is important because it's less expensive to modify a prototype than rewrite several lines of code after the application reaches the development stage.
Coding comes into the big picture in the development phase. For smaller projects, a single developer may handle the entire coding process. But for larger projects, a team of developers might divide the work into subtasks.
There usually are back-and-forth conversations between developers and product owners at this stage. And this effective communication is crucial because it helps keep the developers' focus, throughout the development process, on the core reason for creating the application.
Testing is another crucial SDLC phase because no one would purchase a SaaS product with heaps of bugs and defects. So, software testers come in at this stage and run a series of analyses to check if the application functions correctly and is ready for deployment.
Some vital things that testers might check are how secure the software application is, its performance level, and its quality. If everything goes well in this SDLC phase, the result should be a fully functional product with few glitches/bugs.
The deployment phase is usually automated, and it's at this point that users gain full access to the software product. Application release automation (ARA) and continuous integration (CI) tools come in handy in this phase.
Deployment can be simple or complex, depending on the project. In some cases, the task might be as simple as deploying the software code onto a web server. And in other cases, the deployment phase could involve multiple integrations, which may be time-consuming.
Coming last in the software development life cycle, the operations and maintenance phase is where users discover (and report) bugs that the testers didn't spot. After gathering feedback from users, developers will then proceed to make all necessary fixes.
While developers strive to ensure that they fix all bugs and defects (as the reports come in), they also have to proceed with caution to avoid creating new problems.
Having a big SaaS idea isn't enough. To build a successful software product, you'll have to set the software development process in motion.
That’s where the software development life cycle comes in.
It's easy to deviate from the original plan of a software project if there’s no structure in place. So, among other benefits, the SDLC helps to keep every team member’s focus on the big picture—that is, the purpose for creating the software application.
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