Blog: Product Development

What is The Software Development Life Cycle & Where Do I Start?

July 24, 2019 - by Manan Thakkar

With markets around the world changing so rapidly, software development partners need to create software products and applications within timeframes that are substantially shorter than they used to be a few years ago. For this, development teams have to prioritize customer requirements.


But since software product development is a big undertaking, it is tough to know where to start. Although traditionally, software development was associated with upfront design using the Waterfall model, in today’s highly competitive and digital world, development teams need to embrace more modern and innovative methodologies in order to meet the growing demands of customers.

Understanding the software product development life cycle and how a strategic technology partner can help you begin the process with a solid foundation – whether you’re starting from scratch for a new product or updating an existing one – is critical.

What is The Software Development Life Cycle

In simple terms, a software development life cycle (SDLC) is a conceptual framework describing all activities in a software development project: from analysis and planning to design, implementation, and maintenance. The process is associated with several models, each comprising a variety of tasks and activities. SDLC provides developers with a considerable level of control of the development process and helps them ensure that the ultimate end product is consistent with the original requirements. By using well-managed design and testing processes, it enables them to use the same process for similar projects with a decent level of confidence of success.

How to Get Started

Many organizations assume that executing a software development project only requires them to have an idea of the end product, time, and resources. However, starting a software project is not all that simple. You first need to select the right strategic partner who can help setup a proper communication path, establish expectations, and create a strong platform. Once a partner is in place, here’s how you can get started:

Step 1: Business Requirements Analysis

Business requirements analysis is the first and most important stage of the SDLC. It is only when the software development team has a clear vision of the product or application that they can effectively deliver on the project completion. The key is to give the project the right start – understanding end-user needs and expectations, analyzing the requirements, defining statement of work and timelines, and listing down key variables. The clearer the specifications, the more appropriate the solution will be. Therefore, validate first (and early) and build later.

Step 2: Ideation

Once you have a clear understanding of the requirements, you need to develop the software project’s foundation. You need to get your ideas churning and combine them to create a solution that satisfies the customer’s needs and expectations. A critical aspect in the ideation stage is that several needs may surface which never existed or weren’t anticipated; establishing these new needs and planning strategies to meet them is important. Although several ideas may be thrown out, there will be several others that will help you build a quality product.

Step 3: Wireframes and Mockups

Wireframes and mockups are essential to understand and determine the structure of the software and to test its functionality. By building a basic framework, flowchart, or blueprint, you can define the placement and location of interface elements, including menu and search bars, navigation elements, logos, and footnotes. See how they work together and arrange them such that they best accomplish the intended purpose. Additionally, you can also create interactive wireframes to simulate a dynamic interface and check and optimize the logical structure, functionality, and expected user behavior.

Step 4: UML Diagrams

UML (unified modeling language) diagrams are a great way to represent a software system to better understand, modify, maintain, or document information about the system. By visually illustrating elements such as individual components, their roles, actions and classes, you can see how different aspects and characteristics of a system work. You can either create a behavioral UML diagram to describe the behavior of the system or a structural UML diagram to analyze and depict the structure of the system.

Step 5: Prototypes

Once all the ideas have been selected, wireframes and mockups have been designed and UML diagrams have been created, it is time to build the prototype. You can begin by creating rough concepts to test the various structures and workflows of the solution. Any prototype you build should be evaluated by end users; based on their feedback, you can alter the prototype to satisfy their requirements. Then, you can move on to displaying how the solution will look and perform and create an interactive user experience prototype for testing. By building prototypes, you can finalize the requirements easily and accurately and move on to the final design phase.

Step 6: Design

After you have set up project requirements, it is time for your analysts and designers to create the high-level design that describes the complete picture. This preliminary design of the system’s logic, as well as frontend and backend, allow you to confirm if all the main aspects of the solution will perform correctly together. Think of this as the architectural blueprint for your code. Although different software development methodologies handle this in many different ways, what’s important is that you have some level of design before you jump in and start coding.

Designing Quality Products

With software becoming the foundation of every product and service today, regardless of size and complexity, every software system needs to be built using a robust software development methodology to meet expectations. Understanding the SDLC and making conscious efforts to create an agile and sustainable end product is what will make you stand out.

Although your software development team may be at the top of their field, the only way to develop a solution that will meet end user needs is by having a software development partner on board from the beginning. Your partner will employ disciplined methods – including business requirements analysis, ideation, wireframes and mockups, UML diagrams, prototypes, and software design – and will help you speed up the life cycle phases, reduce the scope of error and deliver cutting-edge products that meet the distinct needs of your customers.

Learn more about how an experienced technology partner can help your business properly follow the software 0 life cycle for optimal results.

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