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Developing high-quality and reliable software is a challenging task that demands a comprehensive and structured approach. Here comes the concept of the software development life cycle (SDLC).
It can be defined as a framework that software engineers' team follows that enables them to develop applications that are meeting requirements and timelines and providing value to their users.
So, we will discuss this software development process and the various software development methodologies (models) employed by developers' teams. Article is based on Softermii’s experience building custom software and apps for years.
What is the software development life cycle (SDLC)?
The software development lifecycle (SDLC) defines and organizes the tasks necessary to complete software development. It is the structure and steps the development team follows on all of their projects.
Also known as the product development lifecycle, the process comprises several steps or phases that facilitate the creation of robust applications. The SDLC phases address the complexity that underlies software development and attempts to improve the process. The goal is to ensure that the final results align with the organization's quality and functionality.
Before engaging in the defined SDLC steps, let's discuss why software development teams need to implement and follow SDLC. As we have said before, product development is a complex process that requires designing and engineering work and a lot of communication between team members.
Moreover, according to Stackoverflow developers' survey, there are many more obstacles that impact the project. Here is a list of the most distracting things for programmers that can affect software development productivity and quality.
Stackoverflow claims that nearly 3 out of 4 workers said they were distracted on the job, with 16 percent claiming that they're almost always distracted. Besides, 34% of employees said they liked their jobs less in a distracting work environment. However, 66% of them had never brought up the issue with their managers. Moreover, employees took an average of more than 23 minutes to return to a task.
Therefore, the software development methodologies are designed to fight almost all these challenges and make the work on the project smooth, non-distracting at all with effective communication, meetings, management processes, and optimized workload.
So, let's move ahead and discuss how to set the software development model and what steps it should take to be effective.
What is the SDLC Process: 6 Basic Steps
There are six basic steps in the software development process. Each one is important in its own right, and skipping steps leaves a development team open to failure that could have easily been avoided.
Specific SDLC models have different ways of implementing the steps, and we will investigate them shortly. First, let's take a closer look at the general steps of all SDLC approaches.
Step 1. Planning and requirement analysis
The first step in the software development life cycle is the most important in the process. It is where fundamental decisions are made regarding the feasibility of the project. The planning stage also addresses risks and quality assurance issues that may impact development.
After the planning phase of the SDLC, the team will agree on the technical approach that will be used to develop the project while minimizing risk. This step involves input from the customer, industry experts, and internal sales and marketing departments.
Step 2. Defining the requirements of the project
When planning is complete, we define and document the product requirements, e.g., what functionality and interface it needs and what tech stack to choose for implementing that.
As a result, we deliver a software requirement specification (SRS) detailing the project sent to the customer for approval. The SRS clarifies what needs to be designed and developed during the software development process.
Step 3. Design Stage
In the design phase of the software product development life cycle, we consider the overall architecture of the project. The design document specification (DDC) can be helpful here, which often suggests multiple approaches for fulfilling the previously defined requirements.
In the DDS, you can add all details on all modules designs and entire architecture.
After you have specified all the design aspects, you are ready to start the design development process by creating mockups, wireframes, prototypes, and then moving to the interface.
Step 4. Development Stage
It's a building phase of the application development life cycle.
The team defines and applies the most applicable programming languages, frameworks, and technologies to the product development as under the DDS.
Interestingly, giving the DDS and design phase adequate attention, can make the development step run smoothly. A detailed and organized DDS paves the way for rapid and consistent module creation.
Step 5. Testing
Some level of testing takes place, for sure, in all phases of the SDLC as work proceeds on the project.
At some point, a thorough evaluation of the application is required to determine how well it achieves the requirements defined in the SRS. The testing phase identifies defects and bugs that need to be addressed and may require multiple iterations to reach the desired quality and functionality in the finished product.
Step 6. Release and maintenance
When you finish the testing and fixing phases, it's time to release the product to the market. The application may undergo user acceptance testing (UAT) with a limited subset of users to verify that it is ready for general release.
Though the product is released, the work on it continues. Maintenance is an ongoing process throughout the product's life as bugs or deficiencies in the software are discovered and corrected by the development team.
Here is a more detailed video explaining the software development cycle and stages if you need more information.
What are SDLC methodologies?
Understanding the main SDLC process stages is time to move ahead to the software development methodologies and their different types.
In a nutshell, the system development life cycle methodology is a set of repeatable processes that, when followed, present a path to successful results. These processes have proven to be valuable in helping development teams create quality software.
There are several types of software development methodologies, but the most popular ones are the next one under the Stackoverflow survey:
Besides, Agile popularity isn't unpredictable – under the PwC research, the Agile projects are 28% more successful than those that don't follow any approach.
Of course, implementing the methodology into your project requires time and effort but rewards a lot of benefits for your team and product.
Benefits of using software engineering methodologies
Thus, if you still are not using the methodology for your product development, let's explain why you should start and what advantages you get:
- Most product development methodologies are well-documented, making it easier for teams to adapt their processes and standards.
- Comprehensive steps are laid out to facilitate the development.
- Effective development and design standards are defined.
- Software development life cycle models are more useful on large projects with buy-in from all team members.
- Prospective costs and completion time can be evaluated before starting the project.
- Precise requirements are obtained through working with the customer and obtaining approval for the software requirement specification.
- Change in team staffing can be absorbed throughout the development project.
- Maintenance is easily performed due to the modular nature of the processes used to complete the application.
- A clear understanding of such components as timing, budget size, and the number of professionals in the team.
Potential disadvantages of the software development methodology
- Some software development methodologies are only effective for projects of a certain size
- It can be difficult to estimate software development costs and overruns when initiating the project
- Requirement changes are hard to implement once development is underway.
- The time and cost of completing a project may increase with certain development methodologies
- Project definition needs to be completed before development can start
- It may be difficult to obtain customer input after the initial steps of systems development are complete
Hopefully, after these, you know that selecting the right methodology can dramatically impact the success or failure of a given project. There are many different types of software development methodologies from which to choose.
Let's look at some of your choices when considering the types of development strategies to use in a software development project.
Popular types of software development methodology
Here is an overview of some of the software development methodology options available to development teams. We will highlight some of the pros and cons of each product development methodology.
Waterfall SDLC Model
The Waterfall software development approach is one of the earliest ones, having appeared in the 1950s and defined in the 1970s by Winston W. Royce. Waterfall software development is characterized by a very straightforward approach that follows a rigid series of steps. Each phase must be completed one by one, and there is no going back to a previous step.
- Easy to manage due to well-defined starting and endpoints for each step
- High-degree of accuracy surrounding cost estimates
- Clearly defined requirements and outcomes
- Technical documentation is created during initial requirement gathering
- Test scenarios are defined in functional specifications
- Slow delivery speed compared to other methodologies
- Inflexibility regarding changes to initial requirements
- Difficulty in defining the functional specifications of client requirements
- Not suitable for large projects
Suitable for projects:
- With predictable outcomes
- With a team of developers with a low level of experience
- With a clearly defined scope
The V-Model software design methodology builds on the foundation of the Waterfall model that includes a testing phase associated with each development stage. It is also known as the validation and verification model. The V-Model is one of the most inflexible yet thorough of the various SDLC testing methodologies. Each phase of the model must be completed before the next one begins.
- Identifies defects early in the development process
- High success rate
- Simple to understand and easy to implement
- Saves time by incorporating planning for testing before coding begins
- Extremely rigid and inflexible
- Early prototype creation is impossible
- Updating test and requirement documents to reflect changes can take time
Suitable for projects:
- With well-defined requirements
- Of small and medium sizes
- When sample technical resources are available with essential technical expertise
Read also: How to hire .Net developers
The Iterative software development model builds on an initial set of software requirements and identifies further needs through testing and evaluation. Each iteration of the development process produces a better version of the product.
Requirements are defined as the process is repeated and problems with prior versions of the software are resolved. There is no pre-defined number of iterations when a project commences, as it is understood that the model will be followed until a satisfactory outcome is achieved.
- Easily adaptable to changes in client and project requirements
- Functional and design flaws are identified early in the development process
- Streamlined management of individual iterations
- Optimizes limited financial and time resources
- Design issues related to incomplete initial requirements may occur
- Not suitable for small projects
- May require additional, highly-skilled human resources
Suitable for projects:
- Of big sizes
- When there is a need for future changes
- When requirements are defined clearly and easy to understand
Spiral software development model
The Spiral SDLC methodology is one of the most flexible options and is usually employed in large-scale projects. It allows highly customized products to come out of the software development efforts.
The model repeats the four phases of planning, risk analysis, engineering, and evaluation until the product is fully refined and finished. Each iteration of the four phases starts to identify development risks and the best ways to avoid them.
- New functionality can be introduced later in the development process
- Enhanced risk management
- The incremental nature of the model facilitates cost estimation
- Fast development and an emphasis on customer feedback
- Requires expertise in risk management
- Difficulty meeting financial budgets or delivery schedules
- Additional documentation due to the required intermediate phases
Suitable for projects:
- Of large sizes
- With high budget
- When changes may require at any time
- With unclear and complex requirements
Read also: How to hire remote software dedicated team
Agile Software development Methodology Overview
The Agile software development strategy is based on an incremental and iterative approach to software development. As a concept, the Agile SDLC model has been adopted by businesses for non-software-related activities, but now it is widely used in the software industry.
It produces many consecutive product releases that contain incremental improvements to the previous versions of the application. Each iteration of the product is thoroughly tested before the project proceeds. To be effective, this model requires setting up an Agile team with specific members.
- No budgetary constraints to introducing new requirements
- Fully engages business stakeholders in the development process
- Lessened documentation requirements save time and money
- Small issues are identified before they become major problems
- Hard to estimate the effort required to complete complex projects
- Requires experienced resources
- High failure risk when end-user requirements are vague
Suitable for projects:
- In a new niche
- In which you implement the additional ideas as you learn more about the market needs
- With fast-changing requirements
Lean Software development Methodology Overview
The Lean system development methodology is similar to agile development, focusing on speed of delivery and continuous improvement throughout the project. It concentrates on the Lean principles that include eliminating waste, empowering the team, delivering as fast as possible, and making decisions as late as possible. These characteristics have made the Lean model popular in many areas of the business outside of software development.
- Delivers increased functionality in a reduced timeframe
- Eliminating unnecessary activity saves time and money
- Enables fast decision making and is easily scalable
- Requires excellent documentation for cross-team communication
- A dependence on the team makes it easy to lose focus
Suitable for projects:
- With a small development team
- With a tight budget
Read also: How to reduce IT infrastructure costs.
DevOps Software development Methodology Overview
The DevOps model is one of the newer SDLC models and is a must-have for any project as it involves the melding of the development and operation teams of an organization. The goal is to streamline product delivery and support while minimizing organizational risks. This model takes a more holistic approach to software development and maintenance.
- Changes in requirements can be implemented quickly
- Operational input results in easier to manage software
- Reduces the time to market up to 50% through streamlined software delivery
- Breaks large code base into small pieces
- Demands the elimination of organizational silos
- Requires team members with multiple skillsets
Suitable for projects:
- To achieve speed, scale, and consistency
- To ease out complex tasks and perform configuration management
Big Bang Software Development Methodology Overview
This software development model concentrates on the development portion of the process. It neglects most of the formal requirement definition that is part of many other models. This process is often called upon to address emergencies that demand rapid development.
- Quick turnaround time for project completion
- Ability to respond to changing requirements
- Lack of initially defined requirements
- Relatively high risk of failure
Suitable for projects:
- Of small sizes with one or two developers
- When the release date isn't confirmed or given by the customer
- When requirements are not defined
Read also: How to set up an offshore dedicated center
At Softermii, we understand that SDLC should always be in each project. It helps to create successful applications, mitigate many risks, and save time and budget. You see how your product develops and clearly understand what you can expect in the next steps.
Each SDLC is different, and the development team uses the model that will suit all your requirements. It's adaptable to clients' goals, needs, projects, and, accordingly, new developments and methodologies.
We at Softermii use different types of software development models. Our dedicated team creates applications for business in a wide range of industries. Our clients have their requirements, and we choose a specific methodology based on their requirements, wishes, and business needs. Below we will tell you some of our case studies built following SDLC.
Our development team in Softermii has developed the audio, and video chats app, Scoby, for building communities. Here we will describe all the details we faced.
The app's goal was to develop one simple app that combines Twitch, Tiktok, Clubhouse, and Zoom.
Read also: How To Make An App Like TikTok
Our client wanted to include different features: AI-generated news feed, private rooms, following. video calls, room moderation. Moreover, we added gifts & donations, streaming, and broadcasting.
We learned attentively the main components which a future app had to contain. And then, we created a plan based on choosing a Lean software development methodology.
Workflow (issues and solutions)
Our client needed 20 professionals in a team to develop an application like Scoby. However, we managed to optimize our work, and we created a new project in a short time with the following specialists: 2 Developers, 1 QA, 1 Business Analyst, 1 Designer, and 1 Project Manager.
Our team built a competitive, viral, and meaningful app with a lot of attention to UX design. They evaluated three different video broadcasting technologies and chose Mediasoup. It supports higher loads of users who use the application simultaneously.
We made a soft launch to collect feedback. Besides, our developers tested our solution and then released an application. Our team created an MVP in three months and a full app in seven months that combines key features of popular audio and video chat apps.
What's next? Maintenance.
We developed a video conferencing app for online events Event10x. Here we will describe all the details we faced.
The app's goal was to develop a simple and convenient app with private and big group networking.
Our client expected to include such features as calls, broadcasting, messaging, calendar planning, multiple hubs options, AI-powered translation. Besides, we added conference participants' matchmaking, private video chat rooms, and white label solutions.
We learned the client's requirements and analyzed competitors on the market of video conferencing apps. And then, we created a plan based on choosing a Waterfall SDLC software development methodology.
Workflow (issues and solutions)
Our team faced an issue creating a special engine for a future app. Our specialists managed to create it (based on WebRTC) for broader streaming opportunities. Then we worked on the integration of external tools. Our team has successfully implemented Microsoft Azure and Ngenius in Event10x.
So, we tested our product and then launched an application. We created in three months an online events app for organizing conferences & exhibitions with broadcasting to over 15000 people. Our specialists are currently supporting this application.
Locum app is a platform for automating the recruiting process in the UK pharmaceutical market.
Our team created a platform for automating the recruiting process in the UK pharmaceutical market. Now, we'll show you all the exciting moments we had.
The goal of the app was to overcome a long-standing industry problem in the UK.
Core App Features
Our client wanted a future app that included different features: profile history updates, messaging platform integration, scheduling & booking of locum appointments, and jobs sharing feature. Moreover, we added a search in-app along with filtering for fast and effective employees/employers. This app also has features for pharmacists and pharmacies.
We researched this project: requirements, needs, and expectations of our client. Then we built a plan based on choosing an Agile software development methodology. (name of a model).
Workflow (issues and solutions)
Our professionals faced two issues. We needed to simplify finding pharmacists on staff for pharmacies and provide pharmacists with the best way to find work in pharmacies.
Our dedicated team created an innovative app that solves the staffing problem in the pharmacy market through automation of the recruitment process. Locum app has two separate user flows in their app for pharmacists and pharmacies.
Software Development Methodologies: Wrapping Up
The rationale behind the software development life cycle concept and its variety of methodologies is to make it easier for developers to create quality software products successfully. Depending on the scope of a particular project, it may make more sense to use a specific SDLC methodology.
When choosing a software development model, consider the financial, human, and technical resources available for the project. Time constraints may impact the decisions as some models enable a faster turnaround. This SDLC overview should serve as a good starting place to find the right methodology for your team.
If you still hesitate to implement one or another software engineering model, get a free quote on the project management from our PM experts, and we will figure out the best approach for your case. And keep in mind, finding the right software development model will make it much more likely that your development goals will succeed.
Moreover, our dedicated team can develop a solution for you based on the chosen model. We have an experienced team of Full-Stack Engineers, UI/UX Designers, Project Managers, Business Analysts, QA Engineers, Solution Architects, etc.
Contact us, and we will help you with the right methodology in software engineering and creating your application.
Frequently Asked Questions
We'll be honest with you. Each SDLC methodology has its pros and cons, which we talked about earlier. Moreover, each of them may not be suitable for all projects. So, you should know the key requirements of software development methodologies. Still, these models help you increase your chances of building a successful application. You can see what the workflow consists of, what budget is needed, and the project's timing. The most important thing is to find a methodology that's perfect for you.
You should understand that not all SDLC methodologies are flexible to make changes during the development of your project. You need to consider in advance that there may be unforeseen costs at one of the stages of product creation. It would help if you considered that the methodology you choose should be appropriate for the size of your project.
There are also some SDLCs in which there is no way to create an MVP.
At first, we discover your business needs, and then we form a dedicated team for your project. Our developers create the front-end and the back-end of your application. We collect feedback from a small group of users, test a product, and fix potential bugs. And finally, our company launches your project and then supports it.
Our professionals use a wide range of SDLC methodologies for creating apps: from the Waterfall Model to the Big Bang Model. We choose one of them based on our expertise and the requirements of your project. Our team also considers the size of the budget, the timing, and your wishes. We create solutions that help you to achieve solid results in your market.
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