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26 January 2022

Software Development

The Seven Stages of the SDLC

10 minutes reading

The Seven Stages of the SDLC

A focus on the SDLC (software development life cycle) can ensure high quality, better functioning software. The SDLC helps schedule planning, building, testing, and maintaining an application. However, it is hard to implement the software development life cycle wisely and adequately without a good understanding of its phases. In this article, you will read about the detailed stages of the SDLC and how they can be used to provide customers with high-quality products.

Stages of the SDLC

Fig. 1 Stages of the SDLC 

Planning stage 

This phase of the software development life cycle sounds obvious, but it is worth exploring. Without good planning, a project will not have a clear scope and purpose. The goals, costs, and teams’ structure are set up at this stage. Furthermore, during the planning (and every later stage), there is also room for constant feedback from the target group, developers, and other stakeholders.

When the planning is done, and the overall purpose of the application is outlined, the team moves on to the analysis stage. 

Analysis and defining requirements  

This is the time to think about precisely what requirements the application should meet. At this stage, the developers often create a software requirements specification document. An SRS document is a description of the software’s aim and expected performance. It also includes the functionalities that the application should offer. 

With requirements clearly defined, the design of the UI & UX of the application will be more accessible. 

Design 

The design stage is a prelude to the code phase. The details for the application now are set and outlined. During this stage, the team will be focused on the application architecture and programming, including defining the application’s programming language/industry practices and methods of solving problems and performing specific tasks. Here, the team begins to create the user interface and choose the platforms on which the software will run. And last but not least, security. How will the software be protected? How will user passwords and data be secured? This is the stage in which to tackle these issues. 

How else does design thinking influence the SDLC process? Read our previous article to check out how the software product development process looks from the UX perspective

Many companies decide to build a prototype at this stage of the SDLC process. An early-build prototype, and its validation by potential users or the client reduces project risk. It is the most efficient way to check how planned features work in practice and where there is still some room for improvement. However, if you want a UX prototype to really benefit your business, you should know how the UX prototype process works in practice.

When  the design and prototype are done, it is time for coding and implementation. 

Implementation and coding  

Now, the developers’ work gets up to speed. Every feature designed earlier needs to be changed into code, and all components have to be implemented. If there is more than one developer working on the project (and that is the most common scenario) a focus on teamwork is also needed. A further priority is to find and fix bugs and errors as soon as possible in order to deploy high-quality code. To make the developers’ job easier, it is worth preparing detailed documentation as a guide to better understand the application's aim and purpose. 

There is no good quality code without testing. Testing helps to eliminate any lone errors that slip under the radar. 

Testing 

This stage is completed before releasing the product to users. Most tests (if not all)  should be automated, especially if you have implemented CI/CD pipeline. The goal of the testing phase is to ensure that every feature works as expected. How can you clarify the testing process and choose the right types of test for your project? You will find the answers to these and other questions in our article about software testing and its importance for the SDLC process

Deployment 

First of all—you should be aware that the initial deployment is always challenging. When the testing is done, it is time to allow the application to see the light of day and make it available to users or customers. This is a key moment to improve scenarios based on real-world situations. Even though this process is automated (as a general rule), you and your teams should stay watchful since deployment is a complex process. Often, several systems and devices must be integrated and in some cases, more time and effort can be necessary to complete this stage successfully.

The deployment stage, at first sight, might seem to be the final phase. Nothing could be more wrong—it is only the beginning. 

application networking in Kubernetes

Maintenance 

The maintenance stage is probably the most crucial phase of the SDLC process. Based on users’ feedback after using the product in a real environment, you are now able to improve your product with new features and eliminate any reccurring bugs and possible vulnerabilities. The role of the development team at this stage is to look after the existing product, keeping it up-to-date with modern user needs and technology requirements. 

Every SDLC is tailored to your unique situation. How can they differ from each other? The answer is right below. 

SDLC models

While the stages and activities of SDLC processes tend to be broadly similar for each project, there are some variations. The following is a quick description of the most popular SDLC models

Waterfall model 

This is a real veteran—it is one of the oldest and most classic of the SDLC models. The waterfall is linear, and this is one of its drawbacks. The team can not move to the next phase without completing the previous one. This approach can cause serious delays and limit iterative work, often making implementing unscheduled features and changes much harder. 

V-model

“V” stands both for verification and validation, and it is often seen as an extension of the waterfall model. Here, a testing phase is included in each waterfall stage. The process is longer but eliminates the more serious bugs that can occur at the final stages of the process. 

Iterative model 

The iterative model is a response to the waterfall model’s limitations. A basic version of the software is created earlier in the process and is tested at the end of each phase. Bugs and errors are found as soon as possible, and the application can be released to the market quicker. 

Spiral model 

The spiral model is more flexible compared to those above. It consists of four phases: planning, risk analysis, engine, and evaluation. The evaluation phase initiates a new iteration. This model works especially well for more complex projects. 

Big Bang model 

The Big Bang model is a solution adjusted for smaller projects or when there is a broad idea to develop. Commonly, the application is built by small development teams working together closely. Here the planning stage is skipped, and requirements are implemented as they appear. What is more—the final release date is also flexible. 

Conclusion 

Implementing the software development life cycle in your company definitely benefits your business and improves the work of your development teams. Taking a closer look at how the SDLC stages look in detail and how the SDLC models can differ from each other will hopefully help you choose the right one for your business and future projects.

Krzysztof

Krzysztof Sajna

Engineering Manager