Eric Thomas, “Fall in love with the process, and the result will come.”
If you are on reading this post, you definitely understand the importance of the process. The software development process is no exception here. If you follow the well-tested software development process, you are sure to build an amazing software. According to a survey by GoodFirms, adapting to the changing client requirements is the most challenging part of the development process for the software developers.
Being a leading software development company, we decided to solve these issues once and for all. In this article, you will read about what software development lifecycle is, what are stages of the software development process, types of development models, what are their pros and cons and who should go for it. We will also answer some of the most commonly asked questions here.
What is SDLC (Software Development Life Cycle)?
In order to understand SDLC, let’s first understand what ‘Software Development’ is. In simple words, the iterative logical process to build a software program or application to cater to the needs of any business or personal objectives is known as ‘Software Development’.
We know that software developers create specific code to develop any software. However, coding is only a part of a big process called the software development process or life cycle. The entire SDLC consists of ideation, research, coding, documenting, testing, debugging, deployment, and updating.
Now that you have understood the definition of SDLC, it is now time to understand the 6 stages of the software process.
6 Stages of Software Development Process
1. Requirements Analysis and Resource Planning
The first step to any process is always planning. You might have figured out certain aspects of your project but you are going to need software engineering experts to create a final 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 the tasks easier. So, you must see which tasks you are trying to optimize and how the software will help in it.
After this, you need to allocate resources for software development processes. You need to decide what kind of resources you will need in order to complete it. You can plan the number of software engineers, designers, tools, and technologies required for the project. Then, you need to create a flexible yet justifiable budget.
2. Design and Prototyping
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 workflow of the software. In terms of software, the design doesn’t only have to do about the look but also about 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 program. 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 any drawbacks or lack of any feature. You can easily make changes in this stage and start with development when everything is finalized,
3. Software Development
Development in software-process only begins when you are completely sure of the requirements and onboard with the design and features. The development team begins the development of a software 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 Cycles Models section below.
This is the riskiest phase of the software development processes. However, being an experienced software development company, we easily understand the requirements and develop a product up to the expectations.
This is actually a continuous process, and testing is performed alongside development. Testing is done to check the functionality, usability, and stability of the product under the development process.
We also have a team of quality assurance testers or QA testers. This team tests every piece of code created by the development team. This is done both manually as well with automated tools to find out if there are any bugs or glitches.
These 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.
This is a crucial stage in the software development life cycle. After coding and testing are done, the next phase is to deploy your software on necessary servers and devices. This is only done after you have approved of the product functionality and the stability of the product is proved.
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 into the software and then released as a Beta release. Now, more users have access to the software program.
6. Maintenance and Updates
As described earlier, software development is a cycle. It is an iterative process. After launching the product, the process is not complete. You need to keep a track of software maintenance and keep upgrading it.
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-down according to the changing trends and requirements.
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We will now talk about different software development process models that you can choose from, based on your requirements.
Software Development Life Cycle Models
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 lifecycle 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. In order to go for this development methodology, you need to be sure about each and every detail of your software project and delivery schedule.
Phases of the Waterfall Model
- Software system design
- Product Release
Who can use it?
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.
2. Prototyping Development Model
Well, the name couldn’t have been more apt for this model of the software development process. The development 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.
Such a method is used when you are not sure of what your users might like or not like. This gives the 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 what your users need from your 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.
3. Agile Software Development Model
The agile approach is the most popular software development methodology. 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 can easily make changes to your initial plans. In fact, we use this methodology for almost all the projects. According to Harvard Dataverse, Agile software development has various implications in AI product development as well as Big Data analysis.
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 a constant user involvement in order to understand their mindset, carry out a risk assessment, and bring about process improvement. Scrum, Crystal, Agile Modeling (AM), Extreme Programming (XP) are some examples of different agile methods.
Phases of Agile Software Development
- Feedback and validation
- Plan next sprint
Who can use it?
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
4. Incremental Development Model
The idea behind the incremental development model is developing 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.
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? It is the Minimal Viable Product that has only the core functionality and upgraded after getting feedback from users. This is how the incremental model works.
Phases of Incremental Model
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.
5. Iterative Development Model
In the iterative 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.
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
- Repeat (Till you get the final version)
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.
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.
The first stage is 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
- 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.
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. Let’s see which are some of the top languages that software developers prefer.
Most Preferred Software Development Programming Languages
There is no one definite programming language that can be used for the development and maintenance of software. Software developers prefer different languages for different aspects of development. Some developers pick a secure language while some go for a highly-functional language depending on the type of software or functionality.
You can see in the graph that 77% of developers choose PHP- a general-purpose server-side scripting language as their preferred language because of its multifunctional capabilities and versatile purposes.
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It is now time to find out the answers to the most commonly asked questions.
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.
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 developers 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
- Step2: Discuss your project with us
- Step3: We will give a list of candidates that you can choose from
- Step4: Interview these candidates and choose the best
- Step5: Hire the software developers of your choice and start the process
We hope that this article has helped you understand the fundamentals of the software development process. We have tried to explain in simple terms so that even non-tech savvy people also get the basics and decide which development methodology will suit their project requirements. Yet, if there are any more questions or doubts about software development processes, feel free to reach out to us.
We are a leading software and mobile app development company with experience in developing over 3500 projects. We are the developers behind the most downloaded Spanish on-demand grocery delivery app Glovo with over 30 million installs. We have also developed a peer to peer payment app called PayNow for Stripe which is the most popular payment app in Australia.
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This page was last edited on August 14th, 2020, at 9:02.