Making the most of innovative software is one way to stay competitive in today’s business environment. That’s easier said than done in an ever-changing digital landscape, but experts have recognized the value of using the system development life cycle (SDLC) approach.
When business owners, project managers and software developers all understand and follow its guidelines, it creates the best chance of an efficient end result and continual satisfaction while using the product.
SDLC – 7 stages of the life cycle explained
With the SDLC approach, creating a software system is divided into several stages. This specific process has proven to be one of the most efficient ways to go about creating hardware and software systems.
There are slight variations to this process, with some experts combining two steps into one; however, these seven steps provide a clear indication of what is necessary for a robust system to be successful:
- Planning: Clients, project managers and other role players determine the scope of the project. Developers must understand the requirements in order to write code for the project.
- Analysis: Consider the technical requirements necessary to meet the project’s scope. Clarify the challenge the system must solve.
- Design: The team creates a blueprint, covering aspects like interfaces and the system’s architecture.
- Development: Coding of software can start, and hardware can be acquired.
- Testing: The developed product is tested and modified until it meets the original requirements.
- Implementation: The tested product is deployed.
- Maintenance: Assessment of the deployed product is performed continually.
It’s important to understand that this is not a linear process that ends after the implementation of a software or hardware system. For the system to continue benefiting its users, it’s vital to maintain it, which includes implementing improvements and updates.
It takes insight to ensure the success of such a process, so it’s vital that skilled individuals are part of the team. From project managers to developers, all need the necessary skills and experience.
This proves the value of proper training. Acquiring a qualification such as an Online Computer Science Masters degree from a reputable institution such as Baylor University is a smart option for people interested in excelling in this field. Baylor offers this qualification as a 100% online program, meaning it has become more accessible to future software engineering experts. With small classes and a self-paced online curriculum, this program allows students to continue working and apply what they learn to the real world.
Why is quality SDLC important?
For both the development teams and the client requesting a robust software system, there are benefits to following the software development lifecycle process:
- Saves time
- Keeps costs low
- Reduces risk as problems are proactively addressed
- The adaptable cycle can cater to changing requirements
- Meets expectations for on-time delivery
- Improves customer satisfaction
- Easier management
Methods of software system development
While the SDLC approach has been proven to work, there are many alternative methods to implementing a new software system. Your particular project may benefit more from one method than another. Some popular methods include:
When to use: Ideal for small teams when you need fast results
With an agile approach, the team divides the project into multiple small projects. Over time, the system develops thanks to multiple deliverables being put into place. Feedback can be applied in multiple steps, making the process very adaptable. It relies on and enables collaboration between all role players.
Rapid application development (RAD)
When to use: Ideal for small projects when the goal is to get to market fast
With rapid application development, the team will provide prototypes and request feedback from the users. The planning, testing and development phases may be shorter, but the team adapts throughout, implementing the provided feedback.
When to use: Ideal for small projects when strict regulations apply
This linear method develops software in phases, with each requiring the one before it to be completed first. It’s respected for its simplicity, but often, you can only acquire and implement client feedback in later stages. It’s less flexible than others, and it may be difficult to make adjustments to core functions and features.
When to use: Ideal for large projects and complex systems when risk management is vital
A spiral is a visual representation of the plan. The diagram will include phases, with risk analysis, planning and evaluation being continually implemented. Although similar to the waterfall approach, the spiral method allows more flexibility.
The importance of maintenance for robust software systems
As previously mentioned, maintenance forms an essential part of any software system development process. Without making maintenance a priority, system owners and users can miss out on multiple benefits and face unnecessary problems.
Firstly, it’s very rare for any system to work perfectly after initial implementation. There will be a season of identifying and fixing problems. This can include bugs in the system or making changes if you realize there are opportunities to optimize the user experience. Some adjustments, such as eliminating errors, can even lead to cost savings.
This is a perfect example of why the SDLC is referred to as a cycle. Any necessary change noted during the maintenance phase will require a return to the planning stage.
In addition, users may require assistance from the development team, whether to optimize their use of the product or to help if problems arise. Providing support once the system is delivered and implemented is key to customer satisfaction.
In addition, due to technological innovations, the environment in which the system operates continually changes. The software product will need upgrades to align with new standards. Also, it may deliver even better results once developers add new functionalities.
There is also the ongoing challenge of cyber threats that continually evolve. A software system will only stay secure if you implement changes to safeguard it against new threats.
This means project managers, developers, and other role players should not leave a software system as is but regularly reassess its functionality, security, and potential. For any adjustment you deem necessary, you’ll start to plan and follow the stages of SDLC again.
Advantages of using the SDLC approach
Whether you have a business in need of software systems or you’re interested in the exciting world of creating these systems, knowledge of the SDLC approach is vital. The more all role players understand, the better equipped they will be to effectively collaborate and create efficient plans. It is also clear how vital it is to prioritize time and capital for ongoing maintenance so the software system can continue functioning well in the long term.