Software Development Process – Definitive Step-By-Step Guide

Software Development Process – Definitive Step-By-Step Guide


Software development is a process of building software or applications employing one or more programming languages. Every software development project follows a definite step-by-step plan to move from one stage to another and release high-quality software. But what are these steps? And how does the process work?

Our guide to the step by step software development process answers your most pressing questions so that you can make the most out of your software development life cycle, ensuring you don’t miss out on any step as you proceed from an idea to a rollout. 

Software Development Process - An Overview

The software development life cycle is a project management model that facilitates producing high-quality, low-cost software in the shortest possible production time. 

It defines the different essential stages to bring a project from its initial idea or start to deployment and later maintenance. The SDLC aims to produce excellent and reliable software that meets and exceeds all customer expectations and needs.

Also read Effective Software Development Strategy (Time and Budget Friendly)

Most Common software process models for software development:

In software development, different approaches are employed in the process development of software, known as Software Development Models. These models consist of a definite step to ensure the completion of software application development.

  • Agile model 

The agile model is a relatively popular methodology, especially in the software development industry.

The main idea behind this approach is to break a software development process into smaller parts. They are recognized as iterations. The agile model helps in creating gradual changes at each iteration.

The agile methodology prioritizes fast and ongoing release cycles, utilizing small but incremental changes between releases. This results in more iterations and many more tests compared to other models.

Simply put, this model helps teams to address small issues as they arise rather than missing them until later, more complex stages of a project.

The key benefits of the Agile approach are:

  • Fast delivery of working components or functionalities
  • Active collaboration
  • Transparency
  • Quick issue detection
  • Quick adaption to the changing circumstances
  • Never-ending product improvement

If you are considering adopting Agile methodologies, bear in mind its downsides, as:

  • Insufficient documentation
  • Careful planning can be put aside for the sake of immediate response, adaptation, and improvement.
  • Waterfall model

The waterfall model is the oldest and most popular of all SDLC processes. It’s linear and specific and requires development teams to complete one phase of the project before moving on to the next.

Each stage has a different project plan and carries information from the previous stage to avoid similar issues (if discovered). However, it is vulnerable to premature delays and can lead to great challenges for development teams later.

Let’s have a quick overview of the critical benefits of the Waterfall approach:

  • A simple and plain series of steps
  • The overall goal is determined much earlier
  • Straightforward delivery of information at each stage
  • Measuring the project’s progress is hassle-free since its scope is clear from the beginning.

However, we should not forget about the challenges of the Waterfall methodology. These are:

  • You will get an end-solution only at the end of the software development process. 
  • Time-consuming
  • Lack of cost-efficiency.
  • Lack of flexibility.
  • Testing is conducted closer to the project’s end.
  • The method leaves no room for sudden changes.
  • V model

The V-model, also known as the verification and validation model, is quite similar to the waterfall model. A testing phase is incorporated into each development stage to catch potential bugs and defects.

It’s incredibly disciplined and requires a rigorous timeline. But in theory, it illuminates the shortcomings of the main waterfall model by preventing larger bugs from spiraling out of control.

The advantages of this model are as follows:

  • It is plain and simple.
  • Focus on validation and verification helps create a high-quality product.
  • With this model, you can track the progress of your project more accurately.
  • Due to the V-shaped model's rigidity, you can easily manage your project.

The disadvantages of this model include

  • No early prototypes 
  • No flexibility.
  • High risk.
  • Spiral model

Spiral models are flexible in nature. Projects pass through four main stages repeatedly in a metaphorically spiral motion.

It’s advantageous for bigger projects since development teams can produce customized products and incorporate any received feedback relatively prematurely in the life cycle. 

The key benefit of the Spiral model can be seen in improved risk management. At the beginning of each iteration, the software development team considers the potential risks and defines comprehensive solutions to reduce them or fix a potential bottleneck.

Let’s dig into the main pros of the Spiral model:

  • More capacity for business requirements
  • Allows extensive usage of prototypes
  • More specific focus on requirements
  • Improved risk management.

The drawbacks of this methodology are as follows:

  • Management is more complex.
  • There are no pre-defined deadlines for the project’s end.
  • The project may go via the spiral indefinitely.
  • Inсrеmеntаl model

The project is split into repeated software development stages. With each new iteration, the project team clearly understands the product.

It works the subsequent way. The software development team and the customer determine which feature to build and implement. Each iteration should go through the precise software development stages—requirement analysis, designing, coding, and testing. 

The carefully formulated software development plan is not that crucial in iterations.

Let’s discuss a few advantages of the incremental and iterative approaches:

  • Early delivery of the primary features.
  • Quick initial product release.
  • The quick capacity of the evolving requirements.
  • Working performance of the product at the end of each increment.

The disadvantages of the model are as follows:

  • The total cost of a ready product can be high.
  • Adequate iteration planning is required.
  • RAD model

RAD (Rapid Application Development) allows you to build functional modules and prototypes. Further, they are implemented together to form a finished software product that can be delivered quickly. 

Since detailed pre-planning is not critical, the development team will integrate the needed changes in the software development process much more quickly.

So what benefits can you derive from the RAD approach? 

  • Changing requirements is not an issue.
  • You can easily measure the progress of a project.
  • Iteration time is quick, provided that the software development team has suitable software development tools.
  • The reusability of software elements is increased.
  • RAD enhances productivity.
  • Integration at the initial stage addresses many integration issues.

The disadvantages of the RAD model include:

  • Highly skilled designers or developers are required.
  • Excellent modeling skills are a must.
  • The approach applies to projects that can be modularized.
  • Complex management.
  • Big Bang Process

The Big Bang model is incredibly flexible and doesn’t follow a rigorous process or procedure. It even leaves detailed planning behind. It’s mostly used to develop broad ideas when the customer or client isn’t sure what they want. Developers simply start the project with money and resources.

Their output may be closer or farther from what the client eventually realizes they desire. It’s mostly used for smaller projects and experimental life cycles designed to inform other projects in the same company.

So what benefits can you derive from Big Bang Model?

  • Simple model & Easy to Implement.
  •  Requires less planning.
  •  Requires less resources.
  • Cost-effective.
  • Suitable for small projects.

The disadvantages of the Bing Bang model include

  • A highly risky model for developing a big or complex project.
  • Inexpensive model
  • Uncertainty in nature
  • Scrum Process

Though Agile and Scrum are often confused, the difference between these two terms is more than meets the eye. Agile is a broad concept. It is something like philosophy or orientation. Scrum, in its turn, is a specific methodology that defines how your project will be managed.

Speaking about sprints, they are short phrases that usually last two weeks. Each sprint starts with planning, where the software development team identifies which small part of the project scope should be completed during this time.

The tasks for each sprint are taken from a backlog. It is created by the product owner to prioritize tasks for the project.

Since Scrum can be seen as a subset of Agile, their benefits are pretty similar:

  • Increased productivity
  • Reduced costs
  • Improved user satisfaction
  • Fast release
  • Great flexibility when it comes to changes.

However, like any other project management methodology, Scrum is not perfect and has the following downsides:

  • It can be hard to adopt Scrum in big teams.
  • The efficient Scrum adoption requires experienced software development professionals.
  • A high level of commitment is a must.

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7 Steps of the Software Development Life cycle

software development life cycle

There are seven primary stages of the modern system development life cycle. Here’s a brief breakdown:

  • Planning Stage

The planning phase contains all project and product management elements. This generally contains capacity planning, cost estimation, resource allocation, project scheduling,  and provisioning.

During the planning phase, the development team gathers input from stakeholders involved in the project; sales, internal and external experts, customers, and developers. This input is transformed into a detailed description of the requirements for developing the desired software. The team also defines the resources needed to fulfill the project requirements and then figures the associated cost.

Anticipations are also well defined during this stage; the team decides what is expected in the software and what is NOT. The actual deliverables produced from this phase include project plans, estimated costs, projected schedules, and procurement needs. 

  • Requirements of Analysis Stage

The analysis stage includes gathering all the specific details required for a new system and determining the first ideas for prototypes.

Developers may:

  • Define any prototype system requirements
  • Evaluate alternatives to existing prototypes
  • Perform research and analysis to determine the needs of end-users

Furthermore, developers will often create a software requirement specification or SRS document.

This includes all the specifications for software, hardware, and network requirements for the system they plan to build. This will prevent them from overdrawing funding or resources when working at the same place as other development teams.

  • Design Stage

During this step, the creation of the product design from the requirement’s documentation ensues. Product design assists in the specification of the necessary hardware required to run the product, in other words, the deployment. 

It also helps in clearly marking out the general product architecture, depicting the software modules required to be developed and their relationships.

It is also time to make a choice of development platform, e.g., .NET, Java, Laravel, Ruby on Rails, or FileMaker. This choice depends on the requirements and on the platform commonly used within the company.

Furthermore, the User Interface and User Experience are designed in this step. Considering the software application's target users and the main features, a user-friendly and modern-looking User Interface is designed.

  • Software Development Stage

The development stage is the phase where developers write code and create the application as per the pre-design documents and outlined specifications. Once the development team contains the requirement specification and the design documents in hand, the software developers can begin programming. 

Besides coding, the developers also execute unit or module testing in this phase to detect potential issues earlier in the development phase.

Some businesses prefer to outsource the software development activities, and many times also the previous step of Development Design, to an outsource software development company.

Reasons for this outsourcing vary from not having the resources, capacity, or skills available in their team regarding the company’s core products and services. An interesting article about things to consider when outsourcing can be found here.

  • Software Testing Stage

After the step of development and implementation, the next stage is to integrate and validate testing. Software development teams are in the continuous process of releasing different software applications to meet various business goals. This process is necessary as it is essential to vigorously test the product against all parameters available. 

This phase detects potential bugs in the software, and if any, these are eliminated. This also means that the software product will be a risk assessment at this stage.

  • Implementation and Integration

After testing, the software is ready from the design and development perspective. Developer efforts will combine different modules into the primary source code in a real environment to detect further glitches or defects.

The information system will be integrated into its environment and finally established. After passing this stage, the software is ready for market and may be provided to any end-users.

  • Operations and Maintenance Stage

The SDLC doesn’t finish when software is released in the market. Now, the role of the developers is to ensure maintenance by executing rigorous practices required to address issues reported by end users.

In addition, developers are responsible for making any changes that the software might require after deployment.

This can include addressing residual bugs that could not be fixed before release, or resolving new glitches that shorten up due to user reports. Extensive systems may require more extended maintenance stages compared to smaller systems.

Pros and Cons of the Software development Process

The benefits of the software development lifecycle (SDLC) model consist of the following:

  • Having a clear picture of an entire project, teams involved, estimated costs, and pre-defined timelines.
  • Enable to define a projected base cost of the project to the project managers
  • Pre-defined Goals and standards in plain and simple language.
  • Developers could go back to the previous step if something is missed out during the process.

Disadvantages of the SDLC model include:

  • Due to assumptions made at the start of a project, if an unforeseen circumstance complicates the development process of software, then it may stockpile into more complications down the road. For instance, if newly installed hardware does not work accurately, it may increase the development time and cost.
  • Some methods are not flexible in nature.
  • Evaluating the overall cost at the start of a project can be complicated.
  • Testing at the end of development may delay the work of some development teams.

What’s Next?

When building any software development product, you need to have a clear view of what is going on at each phase of the software development process. Thus, you will be able to attain your ultimate goal and release a unique, high-quality software solution that will meet the market demand.

If you are still unsure how to start the software development process, you can contact the dedicated offshore software developers at Your Team in India. 

Our certified experts will help you understand your project complexity and requirements and which model suits your business needs to enable you to release a high-quality product cost-efficiently.


Qn 1: Why is the software development process important?

Clearly understanding the establishing software development process helps in defining the software development requirement deliverables for each software development stage.

In addition, it will pre-defined the roles and responsibilities of each team member and, thus, improve the efficiency of the software development process.

Furthermore, the rigorous software development practices will help customers communicate with the software development team and manage their software development projects.

Qn 2: What are the main stages of software development?

Traditionally, the major stages of the software development process include planning, where the app idea is explored, potential bottlenecks are determined, and define the system requirements.

The planning stage of the software product development lifecycle is followed by the design phase, where clickable prototypes are developed and tested on end users to obtain immediate feedback. 

After completing the design phase, the development stage takes place. Here, developers create digital product functionality. Quality assurance engineers further test these elements. 

After getting the thumbs up from the QA team, the written code is deployed to production, and a software product is released on the market. After that, the client can count on after-launch maintenance and support of an outsource software development agency.

Qn 3: What is the purpose of planning software development?

The software development plan has several purposes. It provides clients with a clear picture of what will happen throughout the entire software product development process. 

Furthermore, it helps detect potential bottlenecks and discover the most appropriate solutions to fix them. Ultimately, it allows the software development company to develop project scope to provide clients with the team structure, project timelines, and deliverables.

Qn 4: What Are the Benefits of the software development process?

It helps achieve transparency in the whole project. Customers can easily monitor the activities of the software development team, the tasks at hand, and the progress of their application development process.

Finally, the software development process reduces risks usually associated with the launch of a new software solution.

Qn 5: Which methodology is best for software development?

It is not possible to declare one best software development methodologies. Each of them has its own benefits in its own way and can be applied to particular projects. Therefore, while choosing the project management methodology, you must consider a few factors, such as project scope, complexity, and overall business goals.

 At the same time, if you create a big project with a certain degree of flexibility, Scrum is the most favored option for the application development process.

Qn 6: How do you accelerate the software development process?

Here are a few useful ways to speed it up:

  1. Expand your in-house team or hire an offshore software development company 
  2. Split large tasks into smaller ones
  3. Draft your requirements and create a roadmap
  4. Consider the Lean methodology
  5. Watch out for technical debt
  6. Never go overboard with work in progress
  7. Automate your tests and workflows

Harjyot Kaur

Harjyot Kaur

As a technical content writer, my focus is on creating high-quality, engaging, and informative content that simplifies complex technical topics. Throughout my career, I have continuously pursued opportunities for growth and development, refining my skills and expanding my knowledge base.