We use software every day in our lives for nearly all we do. All of the significant software we interact with has gone through a software development process, most likely the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC). The SDLC is a crucial process that transfers a software engineer’s ideas into a tangible product.
But, what exactly is the SDLC, and is there only one way of doing things? Keeping in line with how diverse software and application development has become over the years, software development teams have a ton of variety to choose from.
There isn’t just one surefire way to do things. Mixing and matching specific software methodologies can result in robust and glitch-free software products.
That said, let’s first get more familiar with the SDLC.
What Is the Software Development Life Cycle?
The Software Development Life Cycle is a unique progression in software engineering. It describes the different phases that a software project goes through before launch day.
For effective software development, you need to split up the main stages. Divide and conquer. A software development team must follow the SDLC if it wants to ensure success for its software project.
For example, a software development team will undergo a requirement analysis before actually starting development. Once that’s complete, they can flesh out ideas a little more. Once software goes through all of the SDLC steps, it’s ready for launch.
Software development teams have quite a few options to choose from when deciding how to tackle software development stages. Choosing which one depends on the individuals on the software development team.
This is where the software development team starts its planning and allocates resources. What’s a realistic cost estimate on this software project? Who is best-suited for what task? The software development team maps out its plan with critical questions like who its demographic is and what purpose the software serves.
The project begins to take shape in this phase of the SDLC. This is where talented UI and UX designers come in to build functionality as well as an exemplary user interface. Visual aesthetics can play a big part in the favorable reception of a software product. The user experience is arguably one of the most important aspects.
This is the most crucial step of the entire SDLC, as it involves all of the coding, programming, and other detailed aspects of the software project. Everyone on the software development team must be on the same page here. You need to keep in mind the system requirements, the client’s budget, and more.
Testing isn’t merely a step a software development team takes after finishing the coding process. A software development team will most likely be testing during the entire project. This testing is necessary for your team to reach the final phases in which you put the software project to the ultimate test.
If you don’t perform adequate testing for bugs and glitches, you could be shipping a flawed software product, so make sure you’re continually testing for any pitfalls.
Implementation and Deployment
This stage of the Software Development Life Cycle is where designs and programming come together to form the software product framework. Did it turn out the way your team wanted it to? Does it meet the specifications of a client or project manager?
You may have thought that everything is over after shipping the software product. On the contrary, once a software product is in the hands of customers and consumers, you have the responsibility of updating and maintaining a stable, working product.
Software Development Methodologies
Software development methodologies are processes that aim to maximize efficiency within a team on a software project.
The onus of successful software and application development lies with the project’s manager. Luckily for project managers, there are quite a few different software methodologies to choose from.
Let’s look at some of the more notable methods and see what could fit your development team.
The Waterfall Model
The waterfall method is a tried and true method in software development. While the agile methodologies move around more freely in their project goals, the waterfall method is all about linearity.
It gets its name from its downward trajectory. Starting at requirement analysis, it makes its way down to design, implementation, verification, and maintenance.
The waterfall method is an excellent way for a software development team to stay on the same page. Since the development team focuses on a design simultaneously, the chances of high-quality results are almost guaranteed.
However, where the waterfall method is a reliable development methodology, a serious drawback is its cost estimation and time sink. Using the waterfall method could end up taking a lot of time and money to go through. Everyone is diverting resources to one aspect of the development lifecycle.
The Agile Methodologies
Agile methodologies are different working methods where a development team completes smaller iterations of projects. This is perfect if a project manager wants to emphasize an iterative product. Releasing a software project to the public in iterations can have some serious benefits. This also minimizes risks.
Agile methodologies allow for more significant software projects to break down into iterations. This gives team members and managers ample time to test for bugs and other issues.
A great example of an iterative software development process is Steam’s Early Access program. This allows game developers to release an early build of their software project to customers.
Customers essentially opt into viewing the development lifecycle. They can see the game developers continuously create and improve their games through iterative methods.
Scrum is an agile methodology that takes certain aspects of a software project and breaks it up into smaller pieces. In turn, development teams focus all of their energy onto these software projects during ‘sprints.’
Sprints can last anywhere from two to four weeks. These sprints have individual development team members focus on a single aspect of the development process for better quality assurance.
Project managers called Scrum masters lead the sprint. The Scrum master puts together a backlog of tasks that need completing, called the sprint backlog.
After two to four weeks of heavily focused work, the development team goes over what worked and what didn’t work. This is called the sprint retrospective.
Final Thoughts on the Software Development Process
A software development lifecycle is just that, a cycle. It is a never-ending, continually improving process of creation, adaptation, and improvement.
If you go into the software development process thinking of it as a straight line, you’ve already put yourself at a disadvantage. However, if you explore specific software methodologies, pay close attention to the project manager’s goals, and stay on task, you will deliver a high-quality software product.