How to Apply the Software Development Cycle

April 19, 2023 • Shannon Flynn


Software development can be a complex process. Your software development cycle should be cost-effective and time efficient so you can create the software you need within your timeline. Therefore, learning how to apply the software development cycle to your production process is essential.

How is a Software Development Cycle Supposed to Look?

A software development cycle, also known as a software development life cycle or SDLC, is the process of developing software step-by-step. This process follows a standard procedure that most developers agree on. However, the method of applying each stage varies greatly depending on your projects’ needs.

Planning Stage

In the planning stage, you analyze the requirements and goals of the software you’re trying to develop. This is where you and your team will plan how to create or modify software that will perform according to the client’s specifications.

Design Stage

his is where you and your team start identifying the best solutions to meet the requirements of the software. Using pre-existing modules and development tools is an excellent way to make the software development cycle more efficient, but you have to plan the correct ones to suit your needs.

During this time, the requirements of the software have to be clearly defined and documented. This is so that you can present the client with a progress report and show them how the software is progressing.

Development and Implementation Stage

This is where you and your team develop the software according to your client’s specifications. Your code team should be able to break down the job into smaller tasks so that there is progress every day and you can meet the client’s deadline.

Testing Stage

After coding the software, the development team runs tests in a testing environment. This is where you would run quality and error checks. Make sure the software meets the client’s needs and requirements.

Deployment Stage

After the software has been refined through multiple tests to ensure it works according to the client’s specifications, you can move to the deployment stage. Usually, developers create two copies of the software: the production and build environments.

Having two environments allows developers to make changes to the software even when the client is still using it. They can make changes to the software in the build environment and move that copy of the software to the production environment to apply the changes.

Maintenance Stage

Finally, the maintenance stage occurs after deployment. The development team focuses on fixing any bugs that arise and resolving any issues the client finds with the software. Monitor your software’s performance and make changes according to client feedback.

Different Software Development Models

While the basics remain the same, different models exist to help you apply the software development cycle. These models can make the process more efficient depending on the needs of your team and the project.


The agile model is the standard in the software development industry because of its focus on speed. This approach utilizes ongoing release cycles featuring incremental changes from the previous release. The software is tested at each process, which quickly identifies issues in the software before they can turn into big problems.

This allows your team to fix issues as they appear rather than waiting for feedback from the client after the software’s release. The client can also be as involved as they want in the process, giving them a good impression of your company. 

The agile model is so effective that businesses apply it to projects outside of software development, such as manufacturing projects. However, it does require training a team in a new way of working and thinking if they have never used the model before.


The iterative model of software development focuses on repetitive tasks to develop and identify issues. Rather than beginning the project with set goals, developers implement their own set of requirements. They test the software using those requirements, evaluate the project and set more requirements. Then, they create a new version of the software.

These new versions, called “iterations,” are then tested and re-evaluated — and new requirements are pinpointed. The process repeats until the software meets all the client’s needs. 

The advantage of the iterative approach is that it produces working models of the project early in the development cycle and making changes or rolling the software back to a previous version is much easier. However, the repetitive nature of this model might require more time and resources for development.


The waterfall model is the most basic model you can apply to the software development cycle. The process is straightforward: finish each cycle in sequence and don’t go back to the previous one. Each cycle uses information from the last cycle for improvements. 

In this way, the waterfall model is more like an assembly line. After each phase, developers check if the software meets all the requirements to complete the cycle before moving on to the next step. This model can make meeting the deadline set by the client easier. 

The disadvantage of this approach is that it leaves little room for error — and if problems arise, they cannot be addressed until after the roll out of the software.


Whereas the waterfall model was the oldest, DevOps is the newest trend in software development. It follows many of the same principles as the agile model but involves more collaboration between developers and operations teams. 

These teams work together to accelerate the development process and deployment phases. By combining their tools and specialties, they can create software products faster and with less downtime for improvements and bug fixes. 

The only disadvantage is that you are using multiple teams with different specializations on one project, which may mean increasing the teams’ workload if you have other tasks to complete in a limited time.

Develop Your Software Project With Efficiency

Learning how to apply the software development cycle to your projects is essential to production. Although it might seem straightforward, learning about the different software development methods can be a huge advantage. Find the model that fits your project and works best for your team.