Software Development Process [Definition + Stages + Methodologies]

The software development process includes these 6 core stages:

  1. Requirement analysis and resource planning
  2. Design and prototype to define the complete workflow
  3. Software development
  4. Software testing
  5. Software deployment
  6. Maintaining and updating a software

Being a leading software development service provider, we will explain each of these agile software development stages in detail. Along with the process, we will also learn 8 different software development processes that you must know.

Let’s get started.

What is SDLC (Software Development Life Cycle)?

The Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) is a set of processes implemented by software organizations to plan, develop and test high-quality software.

The aim of SDLC is to build exceptional software that surpasses clients’ expectations and demands.

However, in order to understand SDLC, let’s first understand what is the software development process.

The software development process is a structured process to enhance and build products, projects, and designs together.

Once, you understand the exact meaning of custom software development, it will be easier for you to understand the meaning of SDLC.

In the following table, we have briefly explained the stages of the software development lifecycle to help you understand the overall process.

StepStageOverview of a StageExpected Outcome
1Ensures alignment with client needs and constraints.Clear understanding of project scope
2Establishes the blueprint for development.Visual representation of software structure
3Ensures accurate implementation of specifications.Functional software in development
4Identifies and resolves defects.Identified bugs and issues resolved
5Makes the software available to end-users.Software accessible to intended audience
6Sustains software performance and relevance.Optimized software with enhanced features

The software industry uses SDLC as it helps to produce high-quality software to meet customer expectations and smoothen the software creation process to complete software development within the given cost and timeline.

6 Stages of Software Development Process

Stages of Software Development Process

The following section shows the different software development stages.

  1. Perform Requirement Analysis and Resource Planning

    Planning is the crucial stage of software development. Being a project manager, you might have done a requirement analysis of your project, but you are going to need software engineering experts to create a software development plan for your project.

    You need to analyze if the software, you are planning to develop, aligns with your business or personal goals. This is a requirements analysis. The purpose of any software is to make tasks easier. So, you must check which tasks you are trying to optimize and what are the benefits of creating custom software.

    After this, you need to allocate resources for the software development process. You need to decide what kind of resources you will need in order to complete it. You can plan the number of project managers, software engineers, designers, tools, and technologies required for the project. Then, you need to create a flexible yet justifiable budget.

  2. Design and Prototype to Define the Complete Workflow

    After the analysis and planning part is over, it is time to start creating a software architecture for the product. This architecture or design will define the complete software development workflow. In terms of software, the design doesn’t only have to do about the look but also with the overall functioning and user experience of the software.

    You can play an important part in the design process as you need to explain to the software designers what is that you want from the program. You can define how the users will interact with the software application/product. The designers will design simple wireframes to show these interactions using various tools like Adobe and InVision. If needed, you can also have complete prototypes that display each and every functionality of the product.

    In this stage, you can check if there are any drawbacks or lack of features. You can easily make changes in this stage and start with development when everything is finalized.

  3. Start Software Development After Receiving Complete Requirements

    Development in the software process only begins when you are completely sure of the requirements and onboard with the design and features. The development team starts working on the development of a program by writing the necessary code.

    Now, the development is carried out in different manners based on the type of software requirements. You will understand it in the software development life cycle models section below.

    This is the riskiest phase of the software development process. However, being an experienced software development company, we easily understand the requirements and develop a product up to the expectations.

  4. Check the Entire Working of Software in Testing Phase

    This is actually a continuous process of software development, and testing is performed alongside development. Testing is done to check the functionality, usability, and stability of the product under the rapid development process.

    We have a team of quality assurance testers or QA testers. This team tests every piece of code created by the software development team. This is done both manually as well with automated tools to find out if there are any bugs or glitches.

    Here are the 4 types of testing methods we apply for error-free software development.

    Software Testing TypesDescription
    Performance TestingIn performance testing, the tester will check stability and response time by applying load. Performance testing is done using Loader.IO, JMeter, and LoadRunner.
    Security TestingThe main purpose of security testing is to verify how software, app, or website is completely secure from external and internal threats. This testing method is performed to ensure the security of softwares.
    Unit TestingIn unit testing, the testing is performed on an individual unit. Most developers utilize test automation tools such as NUnit, Xunit, and JUnit for test execution.
    Usability TestingUsability testing examines an application’s appearance, feel, and user-friendliness from the perspective of the user.

    Later, bugs are fixed by changing or adding new code to the original code. We make sure that your final product runs smoothly on the preferred devices and has all the required features and functionalities as discussed.

  5. Deploy the Software Once the Testing is Completed

    The software deployment process is the crucial stage in the software development life cycle. After coding and testing are done, the next development phase is to deploy your software on the necessary servers and devices. This is only done after you have approved the product functionality and the stability of the product is proven.

    Many times, the product is given an Alpha release. A small bunch of users use the product and give their feedback. After analyzing the feedback, modifications are made to the software and then released as a Beta release. Now, more users have access to the software program.

  6. Consistently Maintain and Update Your Software

    As described earlier, software development is a cycle. It is an iterative process of software development. After launching the product, the process is not complete. You need to keep a track of software maintenance and keep upgrading it. You need to consistently monitor software development and suggest changes whenever required.

    This is done because technology keeps advancing and in order to keep up with these changes, the software products are needed to be updated. As time passes, users have different requirements that are uncovered. Further, user feedback also plays an important role in devising future updates for any software product.

    Finally, we also create software that is easily scalable for future scale-ups or scale-downs according to the changing trends and requirements. Check this guide and learn how we create the software from scratch.

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After learning the steps of software development we will now talk about different software development process models that you can choose from, based on your requirements.

8 Best Software Development Methodologies

Further, we will discuss and learn about these 8 best software development methodologies.

Sr. NoMethodologySuitable ForAdvantages
1Projects with well-defined requirements and stable scopeClear project milestones, easy to manage
2Projects where requirements are not well-understoodEarly feedback, improved requirement understanding
3Projects requiring flexibility and frequent iterationsAdaptability, quick response to changes
4Large-scale projects with long-term development goalsEarly delivery of functionalities, risk mitigation
5Projects with evolving requirements and frequent feedbackFlexibility, improved stakeholder satisfaction
6High-risk projects requiring constant risk assessmentEarly risk identification, adaptability
7Projects with a clear understanding of requirementsStrong emphasis on testing, clear deliverables
8Time-sensitive projects with fixed deadlinesFaster development cycles, reduced time-to-market
  1. Waterfall Model

    The Waterfall model is one of the oldest and most traditional software development methodologies. The waterfall approach is also called the linear sequential model or Classic life cycle model.

    Waterfall Development Model

    Imagine a staircase, while getting down, you need to cross each step without skipping. This is how the waterfall model works. Each stage of the software development process is crossed sequentially. However, in practicality, there are some overlaps. Testing and feedback are somewhat iterative in this model. This model is also used when an application lifecycle management framework is used in conjunction with the SDLC to build quality software. In order to go for this software development methodology framework, you need to be sure about every detail of your software project, delivery schedule, and delivery deadlines.

    Phases of the Waterfall Model

    • Planning
    • Requirements
    • Software system design
    • Implementation
    • Testing
    • Product Release
    • Maintenance/Updates

    Who shall use the waterfall software development model?
    Large organizations and government agencies that require documentation on all requirements and scope before a project starts. This is because the waterfall approach is fairly rigid. There is a little scope to make big changes in the software development process once it has started.

    ProsCons
    • Requirements are fixed
    • The project doesn’t derail from the schedule
    • This approach lacks flexibility
    • Longer delivery time
  2. Prototyping Development Model

    Well, the name couldn’t have been more apt for this model of the software development process. The project team creates a small prototype of the final software for the users. This version is used to get feedback for the users and also check the usability and feasibility of the design.

    If there are any issues that come into the light while using the prototype, they are noted down and fixed. Such issues do not make it to the final software product.

    Prototyping Development Model

    Such a method is used when you are not sure of what your users might like or not like. This gives the software developers a chance to perform a risk analysis before putting the original product out in the market. In prototyping, you are involved throughout the development and design process. This way, you will clearly understand the requirements of your users from the product.

    Further, the prototypes are meant to be discarded once they have been tested. Yet, it is not uncommon when a prototype is upgraded after testing and developed into the final product.

    Phases of Prototyping

    • Establish objectives
    • Define prototype functionality
    • Develop the prototype
    • Evaluate the prototype

    Who can use it?
    Prototyping is an approach that can be a part of any of the mentioned methodologies. You can use it if you want to create prototypes before finalizing the final product.

    ProsCons
    • You can quickly detect errors
    • You can create better solutions with user feedback
    • The complexity of the process might increase
    • The process may become time-consuming
  3. Agile Software Development Model

    The agile approach is the most popular software development methodology (also known as system development methodology). Generally, the top software development outsourcing companies follow this agile software development model. This is due to the fact that it is highly dynamic and iterative, which leads to fewer errors in the final software product. In fact, according to a survey by GoodFirms, Agile has been considered as the aptest development method. In fact, more than 61% of projects are done using this methodology.

    This method is the exact opposite of waterfall development. Agile means fast and flexible and the methodology takes on its name completely. You or development team can easily make changes to your initial plans. In fact, we use this methodology for almost all projects. According to Harvard Dataverse, Agile software development has various implications in AI product development as well as Big Data analysis.

    Agile Software Development

    In agile development, you do not need a complete list of requirements. You can explore and find out more as you go along. You do not have to develop all the functionalities at once. You can develop some features and check the user response before taking a step ahead. This will save you from putting too much effort that might go to waste.

    Agile processes follow a flexible and iterative approach, in which there is constant user involvement in order to understand their mindset, carry out a project risk assessment, and bring about process improvement. Scrum, Crystal, Agile Modeling (AM), and Extreme Programming (XP) are some examples of different agile methods.

    Phases of Agile Software Development

    • Requirements
    • Design
    • Development
    • Testing
    • Deployment
    • Feedback and validation
    • Plan next sprint

    Who shall use agile software development?
    As the development cycle is flexible, the budget and timeline also need to be somewhat flexible. If you have a tight budget and timeline, this model is not for you. The projects that require frequent updates can use this methodology

    ProsCons
    • The is one of the most flexible software development models
    • The products get to the market in lesser time
    • The changes can be fairly unpredictable
    • There can be difficulty in scaling
  4. Incremental Development Model

    The idea behind the incremental development model is to develop small pieces of software and testing them on the users for feedback. You can think of it as a series of mini-waterfall development. All phases of the waterfall model are completed before moving on to the next increment.

    Incremental Development Model

    Here, each increment is a new feature or functionality that is added to the product. It is tested, validated, and then moved to another increment. Have you heard about MVP in software development? It is the Minimal Viable Product that has only the core functionality and upgraded after getting feedback from users.

    Phases of Incremental Model

    • Specifications
    • Development
    • Validation

    Who can use it?
    If you need more flexibility than the waterfall methodology, then the incremental approach is for you. The incremental method will tell you the user’s perspective on the core feature of the product. Do not use it if you have a long-term rigid technology plan.

    ProsCons
    • This model is less expensive compared to others
    • Errors are easily identified
    • The process can be time-consuming
    • It requires planning even for future updates
  5. Iterative Development Model

    In the iterative software development model, you develop one version of your product with a version of all the features and functionalities. In the next step, you release this version, say V1.0, get feedback from the users, and then upgrade the features.

    Iterative Development Model

    With each version, your software gets evolved and gets one step closer to the final version. Many intermediate versions are developed by following the same process again and again. This is the reason this methodology is called an iterative model of software development. You will basically understand and get an early look at what the final version might look like. This helps you get better customer feedback.

    Phases of Iterative Model

    • Analysis
    • Design
    • Development
    • Testing
    • Repeat (Till you get the final version)
    • Release

    Who can use it?
    As this model is more flexible than the waterfall method, you can go for it if your requirements are flexible and you want to explore the possible outcomes of your software. You should go for this method if you are ready to do heavy planning and architecture-building beforehand. It is ideal for big projects.

    ProsCons
    • There is more focus on design rather than documentation
    • There is a reduction in operating time
    • There might be more expenditure on resources
    • The successive stages are rigid with no overlaps
  6. Spiral Model

    You can call the Spiral model as a risk-driven model in which the process is radially curling instead of sequential. It has the best features of waterfall and prototyping methods, along with a new element of risk assessment. This method focusses on testing and risk assessment with the incremental nature of Iterative, Incremental, and Agile.

    Spiral Development Model

    The first spiral software development process is about planning for an iteration or a milestone. The next step is to perform an in-depth risk analysis to find out which areas are at risk and where the errors are. After this, you work on the prototype to correct the errors and get user feedback again. This becomes one milestone. After each step, the scope of the software projects expands spirally, hence the name. You start planning again, get feedback, correct mistakes, complete a milestone, expand the scope, and move ahead.

    Phases of the Spiral Model

    • Planning
    • Risk Assessment
    • Development and validation
    • Evaluate results
    • Plan the next loop

    Who can use it?
    Not most people. This methodology is only for the people who are working on a large project with little to no scope for any mistakes. This process is time-consuming as well as expensive. You need to be completely sure of your requirements and have a large budget to go for this model of development.

    ProsCons
    • It is a highly flexible model
    • Perfect for large complex projects
    • Extremely costly in the practical sense
    • Not appropriate for small projects
  7. V Model

    The “V Model” is an extension of the waterfall model we discussed above and in this software development process each development stage has a corresponding phase of testing. This helps to ensure that defects are identified and addressed as early as possible, which can help to reduce the overall cost and development timeline to deliver the software.

    ProsCons
    • It allows for quick bug detection and refinement
    • It improves communication due to having a structured approach.
    • Successive testing makes this model inflexible for changes or new requirements
    • Constant testing leads to longer development time & less customer involvement
  8. RAD Model

    The Rapid Application Development (RAD) model is a software development process that prioritizes speed and efficiency. It divides the development process into iterations, each focusing on a different aspect of the software and aiming to produce a working prototype that can be refined through testing and feedback. The RAD model is ideal for projects where time is of the essence and business requirements are not clearly defined, and it also allows for regular customer input to ensure the final product meets their requirements.

    ProsCons
    • It allows for fast and flexible software developmen
    • It encourages customer involvement & regular feedback
    • Lack of well-defined requirements can lead to a lack of structure in the development process
    • Prototyping focus hinders thorough testing before deployment
  9. There are a lot of coding languages that are used in software development. However, some languages are preferred more over others due to their ease of use or functionality.

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It is now time to find out the answers to the most commonly asked questions.

FAQ About Software Development Process

What is PDLC (Product Development Lifecycle)?

The entire process of planning, developing, and introducing a new product into the market is called Product Development Lifecycle. It has the following 5 steps:

  • Product Ideation
  • Product Design and Architecture
  • Product Development
  • Product Launch
  • Product Realization and Future Upgrades

How SDLC can be useful for any system development?

SDLC helps in breaking down the entire software development process in small parts. Smaller parts are easy to evaluate and help the software engineering experts to work smoothly. Project management also becomes easier as each stage can be focussed individually as well as concurrently.

What is software design process?

The software design process involves creating a design document that outlines the architecture, components, modules, interfaces, and data for a software system based on the requirements listed in the Software Requirements Specification (SRS) document. This process ensures that the software system is well-structured, easy to maintain, and meets the needs of the users.

In layman’s terms, the software design process is the first step in the software development process and focuses on the planning and design aspects of software creation, whereas the software development process covers the entire process of creating a software product.

Should I outsource my software development project?

Well, it really depends on the type of software. Outsourcing is the most efficient way of getting your software developed. You save resources as well as time if you go for outsourcing. When you go for in-house development, you have to hire project managers, software developers, designers with proper skills, manage their payroll, sick-leaves, holidays, infrastructure maintenance as well as insurance.

On the other hand, when you outsource developers, you need to care only about your project management. The development company will take care of every other aspect, including helping you with managing the entire process.

If you are confused about whether you should go for outsourcing or in-house development, feel free to tell us a bit about your project. We will guide you further.

How do I hire a software developer?

If you want to hire software developers, you just need to follow these simple steps:

  • Step 1: Contact us
  • Step 2: Discuss your project with us
  • Step 3: We will give a list of candidates that you can choose from
  • Step 4: Interview these candidates and choose the best
  • Step 5: Hire the software developers of your choice and start the process

Looking for Enterprise Software Development for Your Business?

You have understood the fundamentals of software creation and learned the concepts such as SDLC and the software development process in simple terms. By following this guide, it will be easier for you to decide which software development methodology will suit your project requirements. However, in case of any questions regarding software development processes, or how to find and hire a software development company, reach out to us.

We are a leading software development company with experience in developing over 4400 projects. Our main goal is to partner with top companies and help them accelerate their business by meeting their mobile app development goals.

Bhaval Patel

Written by

Bhaval Patel is a Director (Operations) at Space-O Technologies. He has 20+ years of experience helping startups and enterprises with custom software solutions to drive maximum results. Under his leadership, Space-O has won the 8th GESIA annual award for being the best mobile app development company. So far, he has validated more than 300 app ideas and successfully delivered 100 custom solutions using the technologies, such as Swift, Kotlin, React Native, Flutter, PHP, RoR, IoT, AI, NFC, AR/VR, Blockchain, NFT, and more.