The 5 phases of a software development life cycle

The 5 phases of a Software Development Life Cycle
The 5 phases of a Software Development Life Cycle

Software development is a process used by programmers to develop computer programmes. If you are not sure what software development is, please read our blog ‘what is software development?

The software development industry has arguably the fastest growth rate among other business sectors. There were 24.5 million software developers in the world in 2020. This is expected to grow to 27.7 million in 2023 and 28.7 million in 2024.

There are several approaches that programmers can take during the software development process, usually following a specific life cycle known as the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC). The SDLC can help them determine the level of success in the development process.

What is the software development life cycle?

The SDLC consist of the various stages of a software cycle and the order in which these stages are carried out.  The life cycle has five phases: research & planning, design, testing & development, implementation & deployment, and audit & maintenance.

The 5 phases of the software development life cycle

Research & planning

The first and most important step in any development project is research. Once the problem that needs to be addressed is established, it is important to then understand the client’s expectations and motivations in order to deliver a successful solution to the problem.

Once client expectations are established, the team can start to evaluate what technology will be required to fulfil these needs which will help to determine what software-enabled solution would be best suited for the project.

After this, the planning stage can begin. This can include assigning tasks, establishing milestones, determining deadlines for delivery, obtaining cost estimates, performing a risk analysis, and devising a strategy to avoid those risks. It is also wise to develop a proof of concept at this stage to check and validate the technical feasibility of the project before proceeding.


The second stage of the SDLC is design, during which, the team can begin to consider what the project will look like and how it will function.

Once all ideas have been selected, they can start to create the architecture for the programme and begin developing a low-fidelity prototype. These are rough concepts used to test the various structures and workflows of the solution.

When the final low-fidelity mock-up has been established, the more visual elements can be added such as the user interface. The idea will be transformed into a high-fidelity prototype that will show how the solution will appear and perform.

After these behaviours have been studied, the programmers can start to create an interactive user experience prototype for testing and development – which brings us onto the next step.

Testing & development

At this stage, the team can begin the coding phase in order to create a back-end solution to support the front-end design. This generally involves studying the data and behaviours established during the design process, so they can produce a model of the database.

There are two ways that the software development team can choose to release the programme, waterfall or agile. Waterfall development is a sequential approach following a linear flow, where the program will be released in one go. Whereas the agile approach is more flexible as the program can be broken down into segments which are released separately. After the code is complete, it can be delivered to the testing team for evaluation.

Implementation & deployment

After the software has been created, tested, modified, retested, and certified in production conditions, it can be sent to the production environment for deployment.

If the waterfall approach is chosen, at this stage, the team will be introducing a fully operational product into the market. If there are any issues encountered at this time, the programme will be sent for reconsideration and repair.

However, if you decide to use the Agile approach, development and deployment may refer to the introduction of a minimum viable product (MVP) with other features rolled out at a later date.

Audit and maintenance

Once the product has been developed and launched with client approval, a more iterative cycle of testing begins. The team will begin to gather post-launch analytics of performance to make sure that the solution is meeting the client’s expectations.

At this stage, a risk management plan can be executed based on system audit results including any necessary refinements needed. Therefore, if any new risks are identified, they can be included in maintenance updates and system debugs.

Programmers will often continue to work with clients to further refine their products and create additional solutions that improve the overall user experience.

Software Development with Cyber

From idea to deployment, we can handle the entire software development process on your behalf. Visit our dedicated software development page to learn. More about our bespoke services, or contact our team to discuss your software development requirements.

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