Software development has come a long way since its humble beginnings in the 1950s. Back then, there was no defined algorithm or set of steps to follow, and the process was largely experimental. The pioneers behind this groundbreaking invention had no idea of the remarkable evolution that awaited program coding.
Humans are creators by nature. We have always sought to shape our environment in our own image, from the earliest cave paintings to the latest technological innovations. When we created and programmed computers, we were simply continuing this tradition. We imbued these machines with our own creativity and ingenuity, and in doing so, we created something truly remarkable.
Software development is a complex process, but it is also a structured one. Every software development project follows a series of well-defined steps that enable the creation of high-quality software. This is especially true for early-stage startups, where the initial stages of development may appear somewhat chaotic. However, even in these cases, it is crucial to ensure a coherent and organised life cycle approach.
There are many factors that contribute to project success, including a brilliant plan, substantial financial resources, adherence to the latest development trends, and the selection of the right technology stack. However, none of these factors is as important as a well-structured life cycle approach.
In this post, we will discuss the following software development models:
Each of these models has its strengths and weaknesses, and the best model for a particular project will depend on the specific requirements of the project.
What Is Software Development Life Cycle
Since its inception in the 1950s, the field of software development has undergone significant transformation. From the early days of computer programming to the present, the product development lifecycle has evolved significantly. However, as the complexity of projects increased, it became necessary for marketers, project managers, and developers to have a standardised framework to guide them through the development process. This led to the emergence of the software development life cycle (SDLC).
The concept of the software development life cycle originated from the term “systems development lifecycle,” which was coined by Geoffrey Elliott in his work on Global Business Information Technology. Over time, SDLC has evolved in various forms to adapt to the growing complexity of business systems that require extensive data processing and analysis. This evolution has led to the creation of various variations and methodologies within the SDLC framework.
The software development life cycle is a systematic and structured approach that takes a product’s concept from ideation to implementation and ultimately to the market. It encompasses a series of stages that ensure the efficient and effective development of software solutions. Let’s take a more detailed overview of these six stages:
- Requirement Gathering – In this initial phase, the project team interacts with stakeholders to gather and document the requirements of the software. This involves understanding the desired functionalities, performance expectations, and any specific constraints or dependencies.
- Planning – Once the requirements are established, the project moves into the planning phase. Here, the team creates a roadmap that outlines the project’s scope, timelines, resources, and potential risks. This stage involves creating a project plan, allocating tasks, and estimating the required effort and resources.
- Design – The design phase focuses on transforming the requirements into a blueprint for the software solution. This includes designing the software architecture, data structures, user interfaces, and other technical components. The goal is to create a detailed design specification that serves as a guide for the development team.
- Development – In the development phase, the actual coding of the software takes place. Developers write the code based on the design specifications. This phase involves following coding standards, conducting regular code reviews, and ensuring proper version control. The output of this stage is a functional software product that aligns with the defined requirements.
- Testing – The testing phase is dedicated to verifying the quality and functionality of the software. Testers conduct various tests, such as unit testing, integration testing, system testing, and user acceptance testing. The goal is to identify and resolve any defects, bugs, or usability issues, ensuring the software meets the expected standards of performance and reliability.
- Deployment – Once the software has undergone thorough testing and is ready for release, it enters the deployment phase. This involves deploying the software to the target environment, configuring it for optimal performance, and making it available to end-users. It may also involve providing user training, documentation, and support to ensure a smooth transition to the new software system.
Popular SDLC Methodologies
Each SDLC methodology emphasises different aspects of product development and defines success through its own set of metrics. The project’s specifications and intended outcomes significantly influence which model to use. Let’s explore some of the widely adopted SDLC methodologies that your company can consider implementing.
The Waterfall model is the oldest and most straightforward SDLC model. It follows a linear approach where each step must be completed before progressing to the next. This model relies on the information derived from the preceding stage and operates with its own dedicated project plan.
However, the waterfall model’s rigidity poses a drawback. While it is easy to understand and manage, any delays in the early stages can disrupt the entire project timeline. With limited room for revisions once a stage is completed, addressing problems becomes challenging until the maintenance stage. This model is not well-suited for projects requiring flexibility or those of a long-term and ongoing nature.
The Agile model, which originated in 2001, has become the industry standard and is highly valued by businesses. Its application has expanded to various types of projects, not just limited to technology-related ones. The Agile approach embraces the concept of fast failure, considering it a positive aspect.
At its core, Agile involves continuous release cycles, where each release builds upon incremental changes from the previous one. Testing the product is an integral part of each iteration. The work is divided into manageable segments known as sprints. The Agile model is particularly effective for projects that demand flexibility and speed, making it a popular choice among startups and small organisations.
Two of the most popular Agile frameworks are Scrum and Kanban. Scrum is a lightweight framework that is well-suited for projects with well-defined requirements. Kanban is a more flexible framework that is well-suited for projects with changing requirements.
The primary objective of any Lean transformation is to increase the efficiency and productivity of an organisation. The roots of Lean production practices and principles can be traced back to Toyota, where they were initially employed to minimise waste and inefficiency in production. This SDLC methodology draws inspiration from lean manufacturing practices, including waste elimination, fostering continuous learning, delaying decisions until necessary, empowering teams, prioritising fast delivery, ensuring integrity, and considering the application as a holistic entity. Unlike the agile model, the lean model places a strong emphasis on waste elimination as a means of generating greater value for customers.
The Lean method strives to reduce costs and enhance productivity, aiming to deliver products swiftly and efficiently. Developers following the Lean approach focus on one task at a time, eliminating multitasking and dedicating their efforts to creating the most optimal system development within a single stage. This approach promotes a streamlined and value-driven workflow, ultimately leading to improved outcomes and customer satisfaction.
The iterative model is centred around the concept of repetition. It involves evaluating and refining phases within the software development life cycle until the desired results are achieved. This SDLC methodology shares similarities with the agile model, although it typically involves less external involvement.
The development process begins by initialising the software requirements, which are then tested and evaluated to identify any additional requirements. Subsequently, the design and implementation phases are undertaken. With each iteration, a new version of the product is built, incorporating design enhancements and new functionalities. This iterative approach continues until the software product reaches its final deployment stage.
Unlike the Waterfall approach, Coding activities can be initiated without waiting for the completion of the design phase, and testing can begin without having to wait for the completion of the coding phase. This flexibility enables a more dynamic and efficient software development process.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to choosing an SDLC methodology. The best methodology will depend on the specific requirements of your project, the size and complexity of your project, the availability of resources, and the level of risk involved.
No matter which SDLC methodology you choose, it is important to have a team of experienced and skilled developers who can implement the methodology effectively. At Creativ Digital, we offer a range of SDLC options tailored to meet specific requirements. We assist in defining your technology skill requirements and fulfilling your needs. Whether you have a small-scale or large-scale project, our aim is to deliver exceptional results efficiently and with great value.