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31 December 2020

Software Development Life Cycle Explained by a Product Owner

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Entrusting your software development to another company may be stressful. I totally get that; it’s your beloved idea, and you want to put it in good hands. 

It may be especially nerve-racking if you like to manage every aspect of your business and have everything under your control all the time. However, you can’t be an all-arounder, and it’s good to entrust your product to specialists. 

Between having an idea and developing a fully-functioning software product, there’s a long way ahead. Thankfully, if you like to be in charge, there are some steps and milestones that you can follow during the SDLC process of continuous integration. 

These steps and achievements are a part of the Software Development Life Cycle. And what’s that? Follow me to find out. 

What is a Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC)? 

SDLC or Software Development Life Cycle is, in general terms, a process used by the software industry to design, develop, and test high-quality software. The most important thing is to comprehend it. 

The overall idea behind the software development life cycle is to lower the cost of software development, at the same time improving quality and shortening production time. It’s a continuous process in all SDLC models. It starts from the moment when the software project is launched, and it lasts until the last days, including the development process, as well as fixes and improvements. 

The development cycle consists of several distinct stages, including planning, design, building, testing, and deployment. It is an iterative process that needs to be repeated over and over until your project is finished. Every system design phase is important, and skipping any one of them is not an option. 

Why do IT products need SDLC and all the SDLC phases? It’s the best way to plan the development process and meet the demands of a business, as well as its users.  

SDLC Stages and Development Process Best Practices 

IDENTIFY THE REQUIREMENTS 

“What do we need?” 

The first step of SDLC is establishing requirements and discussing the needs. It puts you, the client, in the spotlight. It’s your time to consult all the necessary specialists in your company and create a coherent vision of your future product. The Product Owner should discuss and establish the conditions with the client as well. A good requirement analysis will help to set up realistic vision and values of products and goals plans. 

It’s crucial to focus on the potential users’ needs and identify key business requirements and expectations for your system development. I advise you to conduct extensive customer research and analysis, then use the acquired information to create a list of desirable features. Remember to keep in mind the labour and material costs during the requirement analysis phase! 

As for presenting your ideas to the software development team, make sure to present them clearly and understandably, in relation to their production environment. Leave no detail behind! If you need some additional help, you can think about consulting domain experts (business analysts or a system analyst). However, never underestimate the importance of your insights, and don’t hesitate to share your business knowledge. 

Once you have your software requirement specification ready, you can move on to the next of the SDLC phases. 

DESIGN 

“How to get what we need?” 

The next stage of the development life cycle is the design phase. It’s time to translate your requirements and needs into software design. It involves designing the entire system, as well as its elements. 

The design strategy should be based on various parameters. This development phase is crucial and is usually implemented during the first few sprints, together with the implementation of the first value-added functionalities , as the whole product depends on the design - if it is poorly designed, it won't be received well. 

Considered the most important in the software development life cycle, this planning phase helps in specifying hardware and system requirements, as well as defining the overall system architecture. The system design specifications serve as input for the next stage of the model. 

Feeling a little bit marginalised? Don’t worry! You can actively follow your team’s actions and provide additional advice and details if needed.  The work of the team should be transparent. The Scrum Master’s advice and guidance can be beneficial throughout the entire SDLC process, as well as during all the ongoing release cycles. 

BUILD

“Let’s develop what we need.” 

The third development stage, which comes right after the design phase, is about delivering the product, based on your requirements and the design created. After all the necessary information about the future product is ready and everything was discussed thoroughly, practical software engineering can start. 

Based on a software requirement specification document made for the project, the coders will make sure to create the respective modules using their coding guidelines. The coding tasks are divided between the team members according to their area of specialisation. The result of this phase of the development life cycle is a working software product and a Source Code Document

You can’t actively influence the coding phase, and you must entrust the developers. Software development is in their hands and you might worry if all goes well - but if you chose the right people who use proper industry practices, you can expect incredible results. 

CODE TESTING PHASE 

“Did we get what we need?” 

It’s the final moment of truth of the SDLC process. It’s time to check if the implemented requirements have been met and if the software runs smoothly. You need to remember that the testing phase is extremely important in a systems development life cycle. 

Testers‘ job is to search for defects during the system development. They verify if the product behaves as expected and is in compliance with what was documented in the requirements analysis phase. 

They do the cycle of SDLC phases over until all requirements have been tested, all defects have been fixed, and the software is ready to be shipped to the market. They can apply alternative solutions to the problems encountered. 

This software development step might get repetitive, as the code has to be thoroughly verified in every project life cycle. If the software testing is not done, you cannot move to the next step, obviously. This one can be called a validation phase of the development cycle. 

It’s an extremely important stage, as it indicates if your product meets your initial requirements. System testing, acceptance testing, integration testing - every single action here is important. 

Never underestimate the power of testing, as it can prevent future problems and ensure the highest quality. Some companies try to save money on the testing phase of software engineering, but it is not a wise idea - testing for defects and issues in the code is necessary. Putting more effort into it may save a lot of work, time, and money. Make sure the testing team fixes all issues until you get what you originally wanted. 

SOFTWARE DEPLOYMENT 

“It’s time to start using what we got.” 

In this phase of the software development process, the product is finally delivered to the public. Once it has been fully tested and has no high-priority issues, it’s time to present it to the users. Now you can see if it meets the customer expectations - the deployment phase will tell you, how successful the whole software development process was. You can say it is a verification phase of SDLC models. 

After all the steps have been taken, the support team collects feedback from the first users, and if any bugs come up, the development team fixes them in a systematic manner. After that, the final version is launched. Congratulations, you made it! 

As you can see, to properly develop software just one phase would not be enough - whatever programming language or environment is used, the software life cycle model is the same, and requires the same phases to be repeated. 

No one said system development is easy, but by following the aforementioned SDLC stages in a systematic and disciplined manner you can successfully get through developing software without problems. The whole development cycle ends up when you have a complete, running product. 

Advantages of SDLC For Your Business 

Overall, there are many benefits to SDLC, as it makes the tedious system development less intimidating by breaking it up into smaller phases. 

You can go through many development cycles before you achieve what you aimed for, but it is worth it. The life cycle method means that: 

  • The project is designed with clarity. 
  • You can clearly see the goals. 
  • The IT product will be adequately tested before being installed. 
  • If a key project member leaves, a new member can pick up where they left off. 
  • It’s easy to check if your team delivers the valued features thanks to the life cycle phases. 
  • Continuous integration ensures a sufficient outcome 
  • There is the highest quality and reduced cost in the shortest time possible. 

Embrace the Power of SDLC 

Software Development Life Cycle allows you to understand all the twists and turns of the developed software without necessarily knowing the programming language or the meanders of SDLC management systems. 

Thanks to it, you can follow the development process and check if your requirements are being respected. Your product can be continuously polished until it meets your anticipations - maybe even exceeding customer expectations. 

With SDLC, you and your Team know exactly where their projects stand and can be sure everything is going the right way, because we periodically and systematically deliver value.

Does IT outsourcing scare you? Leaarn more about its benefits!

Author

I believe that anything I do, I do for the end-user. I maximise value by:

- setting a path to the product's goal, helping developers do what they need to do

- frequently inspecting the result of their work to confront assumptions with reality

- adapting to the changing needs of Stakeholders based on feedback and measurable data.

I manage IT products agilely and know how to make your vision a reality. Would you like to work with me?