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6 Stages Of The Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC)

The software development life cycle (SDLC) usually revolves around 6 main stages. This process is important when you’re developing new apps. Knowing what needs to be done in the SDLC process can help product managers guide the entire team to completion. It also helps you understand the milestones and communicate progress to stakeholders. Let’s jump in!

1. Planning & Analysis

The first stage of the SDLC includes two parts: the planning stage where you are gathering requirements from your client or stakeholders and the requirement analysis stage where you’re looking into the feasibility of creating the product, revenue potential, the cost of production, the needs of the users etc. 

To properly decide what to make, what not to make, and what to make first, you can use a feature prioritization framework that takes into account the value of the software/update, the cost, the time it takes to build, and other factors.

Once it is decided that the software or update is in line with business and stakeholder goals, feasible to create, and addresses user needs, then you can move to the second stage.

The software development life cycle can be an iterative process.

2. Design

The design phase is where you put pen to paper—so to speak. The original plan and vision is elaborated into the basic structure of the software, including the system design, programming language, templates, platform to use, and application security measures. This is also where you can flowchart how the software responds to user actions.

In most cases, the design phase will include the development of a prototype. Creating a pre-production version of the product can give the team the opportunity to visualize what the product will look like and make changes without having to go through the hassle of rewriting code.

3. Development

The actual development phase is where the development team turns product specifications and business requirements into code that makes the product. 

This SDLC phase can take quite a lot of time. It’s important to have a set timeline and milestones so the software developers understand the expectations and you can keep track of the progress in this stage. 

In some cases, the development stage can also merge with the testing stage where certain tests are run to ensure there are no critical bugs. 

4. Testing

Before getting the software product out the door, it’s important to have your quality assurance team test it to make sure it is functioning properly and does what it’s meant to do. The testing process can also help hash out any major user experience issues and security issues. 

In some cases, software testing can be done in a simulated environment. Other simpler tests can also be automated. 

The types of testing to do in this phase:

  • performance testing
  • functional testing
  • security testing
  • unit-testing
  • usability testing

5. Deployment

At the deployment stage, your software is delivered to your intended user. You can automate this process and schedule your deployment depending on the type. For example, if you are only deploying a feature update, you can do so with a small number of users (canary release). If you are creating a brand new software, you can learn more about the different stages of the software release life cycle (SRLC).  

6. Maintenance

The maintenance stage is the final stage of the SDLC if you’re following the waterfall structure of the software development process. However, the industry is moving towards a more agile software development approach where maintenance is only a stage for further improvement. 

In the maintenance stage, users may find bugs and errors that were missed in the earlier testing phase. These bugs need to be fixed for better user experience and retention. In some cases, these can lead to going back to the first step of the software development life cycle. 

The SDLC phases can also restart for any new features you may want to add in your next release/update.

What’s Next?

This is just the basics of the software development life cycle (SDLC); for more information on how to develop new products and create high-quality software, subscribe to The Product Manager newsletter.

Add a Product Manager to your team with the help of this guide: How To Create An Effective Agile Product Manager Job Description (+Example)

Related Read: Software Release Life Cycle (SRLC): Understand The 6 Main Stages

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By Hannah Clark

Hannah Clark is the Editor of The Product Manager.

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