Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC )

What is SDLC?

Simply put, SDLC or Systems Development Life Cycle is a series of steps observed by developers on building specific software. Developers follow certain steps to ensure they have the right software for the right demand.

The history of the term “Systems Development Life Cycle” is very vague but it naturally came into being since the 1960s when developers started to create programs specific to a certain need. Slowly, the term has been observed by different software development companies. From a simple format of planning, building, testing and implementing, software companies have developed their own version of developing specific products for their clients. Each version of software development is called “Model”. As of this writing, there are 18 known software development models observed by different software development companies. These development models could be applied in a certain situation to ensure the product created is a success, since not all models could be used in a certain application. Skills and experience in software development will also dictate which model will work for software development.

Why do we need an SDLC?

There is a great temptation to just resign to the fact of creating software based on the problem. For example, the business needs a simple computing software embedded in their website. That is a simple problem that could be done by programmer, anytime. It is just a matter of using code to efficiently implement the software in a website.

But if you take a look at it deeply, there are steps that should be done before you can actually create the software. First you have to know what type of computing software and the components that should be added. Then they have to plan the actual codes that will be used and test it extensively before implementation. Without any of these steps, something will definitely go wrong once the program is implemented.

With SDLC, software development companies or in-house developers will ensure the software released will have the following behaviors:

1. Software created are of high standard

Building a software is different from building a well built software. Anyone could create a software as there are available tools that does not even require a knowledge in extensive programming. But with SDLC, programmers have to look further than tapping in shortcuts to create a specific tool that the customer wants.

2. Project implementation and control will be easier

The role of developers does not end when the program is implemented. Even though a specific software is highly efficient when implemented, anything found wrong or a bug in the system should be worked on especially when the software did not go through beta testing. In this account, SDLC will ensure that controls of the software are stable. This is usually done be creating better documentation to guide the developers in controlling the specific function of a software.

3. Answer the need of the users or even exceeding their expectations

Every software that is created should answer the specific needs of their clients. Having a highly stable software will be nothing if the intended users cannot use the software. SDLC will make sure the needs are answered and could even provide more than they need. The steps they will be using are geared towards creating a software that is highly efficient as well as problem solving for better time management.

Stages of SDLC

Although SDLC has different models, most of the models observe the following stages to ensure their software is a success.

1. Project planning, feasibility study

Developers have to study the market and know their needs. The theoretical plan of the software is created in this stage. Developers will conduct a study on how will this software affect the users and if there is an actual need for this software.

2. Systems analysis, requirements definition

After creating the theoretical plan and mapping out the need of the users, developers will have to sit down and determine the technical requirements in building the software. In this stage, developers will create a workflow that will be the basis of the actual design.

3. Systems design

Developers will now build the software based on the needs and the architectural plan of the software. Developers will either use a specific language to create a software or they could use an available component. This stage usually differentiates different models wherein some will actually use a specific language, some will use tools without the use of a specific language while other models will use the available components to create a software.

4. Implementation

As the software progresses, developers will need to test the software for proper implementation. Slowly the program is built from the scratch and each component is tested if the code or language used actually works.

5. Integration and testing

Once the software is completed, it will go through serious testing before integration to the actual working environment. The software will be placed on beta version. Usually the software will be available for selected users (closed beta) and gradually the software is opened for public use but will still be in beta version (open beta). Going from “closed beta” to “open beta” will test the software capability for simultaneous and multiple users. Bugs will be detected and developers can work on them before they are completely integrated on to the system.

6. Acceptance, installation, deployment

After a rigorous testing in beta version, the program is now ready to be used publicly. Complete installation of the program is offered with all the components applied.

7. Maintenance

Although the software is now stable it does not guarantee it will work properly at all times. But instead of looking out for bugs, developers will be reactive to the problem. The developers will only monitor the performance of the software and create the necessary adjustments to maintain the software.

8. Disposal phase

In course of time a software can no longer be required. A better software may take its place in the market, the software may no longer answer the concerns of its users or the project could not live according to the expectations, these are some of the reasons why a software should be disposed. Before actually disposing a software, Developers will have to inform its users in advance the discontinuation of support to the said product. Users, then will have the option to uninstall or disregard the software completely.

In a software development environment, the disposal phase usually means another system is in the works to replace the software said to be disposed.

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