When business leaders reach out to 7T for custom software development, they usually bring lots of questions. Some are interested in development costs, others in the project timeline, but all are wondering: What does it take to develop a piece of custom software? In addition, they want to know how our team will make it happen. To understand our development process, it is helpful to know the Software Development Life Cycle.
What is the SDLC?
The Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) breaks down the process of developing custom software into stages. The purpose is to streamline development while producing a high-quality product. Some development teams utilize five stages of SDLC, while others explain the process with six or seven steps.
The seven stages of the SDLC are as follows:
- Requirement Analysis
The 5 stage approach to SDLC combines phases of the seven step process while sometimes removing testing. We’ve included all seven stages of the software development life cycle, along with other titles that are used for each phase for added clarity.
Let’s explore what occurs at each stage of software development.
Stage 1: Planning
The first stage, planning, kicks off the software development process. Sometimes called “Initiation,” this stage involves outlining the business problem and the intended software solution. A detailed project plan also includes budget, resources, and timeline specifications. Development companies will gather information from their clients to understand their expectations, pain points and intended users. The client will also need to determine their expected ROI and how they will measure it – whether in the form of increased efficiency, reduced costs, or some other benefit. From there, the team can identify the system requirements.
Stage 2: Requirement Analysis
The second phase of the SDLC goes beyond planning to outline the system’s functional and technical requirements. This stage is also known as “Defining.” Once the software’s purpose is identified, a Business Analyst helps determine how the final product will deliver that result. The requirements document guides developers throughout the development process and can be broken down into tasks for agile development sprints. With effective planning and requirement specifications, the development process will run smoothly.
7T stresses the importance of discovery sessions with our clients to capture complete requirements and project workflows. As part of the planning and requirements analysis stages, a Statement of Work (SOW) will be issued to the client and a Software Requirement Specification (SRS) document is produced. This limits potential scope creep as the project moves forward.
Stage 3: Design
After the initial planning stages are complete, developers will move on to designing and prototyping the software. They will determine necessary features and functionalities, crafting the software architecture by referring back to the requirements document. To streamline the development process, reusable code may be implemented.
The development team will plan out the high-level and low-level design, including the system architecture, intended frameworks, programming languages and UI/UX design. Understanding the clients’ vision for the project and gathering feedback in this phase will further reduce additional costs and time requirements that could arise during development.
Stage 4: Implementation
During implementation, the software is built in the staging or development environment. Also known as building or coding, this stage is where the planning and prototyping come together. Coding is often what comes to mind when thinking of software development, however, it is just one piece of the “Software Development Life Cycle.” If the previous stages are conducted effectively, implementation will be a straightforward process. The former stages are key to a successful implementation stage, which comprises the bulk of the project timeline.
When utilizing the agile methodology, implementation is where the development sprints take place. The agile SDLC involves the client throughout the development process, making changes based on feedback as the project progresses. During this stage of the SDLC, test cases will be created to prepare for the next phase of development.
Stage 5: Testing & Integration
Between coding and deployment, the software must go through a series of tests. It’s imperative to remove any bugs found in the code during testing. Coding problems found after deployment are often a much greater burden and make a poor impression on the user.
There are many different types of testing, including
- Unit testing
- Integration testing
- System testing
- Usability and Functionality testing
- A/B Testing or Split Testing
- User Acceptance Testing
- Beta Testing
- Quality Assurance Testing
Testing can be performed manually, using automated testing software, or both. Though the majority of testing will occur in-house, software development companies may also bring in external users to test the software. Finally, software testers will determine whether the software requirements have been met. Depending on the results of the testing, the software may be sent back to production multiple times until it is ready for deployment.
Stage 6: Deployment
Once the software has passed the testing phase, the code is pushed to the production environment. It is prepped for deployment and then released into the wild. This is the real test of the software development process, as the product goes live and becomes accessible to users. Besides project demos, the client will finally see the end result of their product and how users are utilizing their software.
Stage 7: Operation and Maintenance
The SDLC is an ongoing process that does not end after Deployment. The final stage of the SDLC is operation and maintenance. Developers can monitor server load, provide production support and develop new features and updates based on user feedback. They will also address any software issues that arise. From the maintenance phase, a software update or new feature will kick off the SDLC again. As such, it is important to develop a good ongoing relationship between the client and software development company.
Whether you prefer the five stages of SDLC or seven stages, an experienced development company is key to success. If you are interested in starting a software development project, the team at 7T is ready to help. We follow the Agile SDLC process when developing custom software and mobile apps. Our developers are experts in UI/UX design, testing, and analytics to ensure that your software reaps a large ROI.
Additionally, our team offers services for data lake creation, system integration, cloud integration, custom ERP and CRM systems and more. To discuss your development project, reach out to the team today.