What is SDLC? Software Development Life Cycle Explained

Defining Software Development

Software development is, at its core, a process of writing and maintaining source code, and in a smaller business that may be all that software development consists of. The smaller the organisation, the closer to the ‘bedroom hacker’ paradigm development is likely to be. However, in forward thinking small businesses and in enterprise organisations, software development will typically cover a broader set of specialists, skills, individuals and stages that together encompass all the steps involved between the conception of the desired software through to its final manifestation of the software via a planned and structured process.



The managed and coordinated development of software is typically modelled using something known as the Software Development Life Cycle. Although exact processes will vary between companies – and sometimes between teams within a company – the SDLC model divides the process of software development work into universal and distinct high-level phases. Different versions of the SDLC may list between 5 and 10 stages, but the typical phases listed in most versions of the model are Analysis/Planning, Design, Build/Implementation, Testing, Deployment and (sometimes, though not always) Maintenance.



SDLC Methodologies

Within the Software Development Life Cycle, organisations will typically implement a framework for software development, consisting of workflows and processes – either aligned to a published formal methodology; an organisational hybrid that is not aligned to a formal methodology but is administratively defined in policy and process documents internally; or in extreme an undocumented but de facto standard that relies on continuity of staffing and habitual patterns – for how software artifacts progress through the SDLC. There can be little commonality between businesses in how each step is performed.

However, typically over time certain paradigms and methodologies become dominant within a given era. Currently, the DevOps model that grew out of several agile methodologies (Agile Unified Process, Disciplined Agile Delivery, and Scaled Agile Framework) based on the “Agile Manifesto”.

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