Understanding the Software Development Lifecycle: Phases, Benefits, and Drawbacks

Joan Nadene

March 6, 2023

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In today’s rapidly evolving technological landscape, software development has become vital for businesses’ success. But with so many moving parts, how can we ensure that the software we produce is efficient, effective, and meets our customers’ needs? This is where the software development lifecycle (SDLC) comes into play. In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into the SDLC, its six phases, and the benefits and drawbacks of using it in product development software. We’ll also explore how remote product managers and dedicated software development teams can enhance the SDLC’s effectiveness.

What is the software development lifecycle?

The software development lifecycle (SDLC) is a process used to develop software products from start to finish. It involves a set of phases, each with its own specific goals, deliverables, and outcomes. The SDLC provides a structured and methodical approach to software development, which helps teams ensure that their software meets user requirements, is of high quality, and is delivered on time and within budget.

The 6 phases of the software development lifecycle

There are six primary phases of the SDLC:

1. Planning: The planning phase involves identifying the scope of the software project, defining objectives, and determining the project’s feasibility. It also includes creating a project plan, defining project requirements, and establishing the project team’s roles and responsibilities.

2. Requirements gathering: In this phase, the software development team works with stakeholders to define the software’s requirements, such as functionality, performance, and usability. The team documents these requirements and uses them to develop the software design.

3. Design: The design phase involves creating a detailed design plan that outlines the software’s architecture, components, and interface. The team also creates test plans, which will be used to test the software’s functionality and performance.

4. Development: In this phase, the team begins to develop the software according to the design and requirements gathered earlier. This involves writing code, integrating components, and testing the software’s functionality.

5. Testing: The testing phase involves testing the software’s functionality, performance, and usability. The team uses the test plans created during the design phase to conduct various tests, including unit tests, integration tests, and system tests. Any defects found during testing are logged and fixed before moving on to the next phase.

6. Deployment: The deployment phase involves releasing the software to the production environment, where it can be used by end-users. This phase includes tasks such as training end-users, configuring the software, and installing it on end-users’ devices.

To clarify, while these are the primary phases, the SDLC doesn’t end when the application reaches the end-user. The developers, quality engineers, DevOps and/or system administrators will continue to monitor the application for any unexpected behavior. The end-users provide feedback, and adjustments will be added as needed after deployment.

The Benefits of Software Development Lifecycle

The software development lifecycle offers numerous benefits to organizations that implement it. Here are some of the most notable ones:

a. Better Product Quality

One of the most significant advantages of following a software development lifecycle is that it results in higher-quality products. Each phase of the lifecycle involves testing and quality assurance processes that help ensure the product is functioning correctly and meeting user requirements.

b. Improved Collaboration

Software development lifecycles also promote better collaboration between team members. When everyone follows a standardized process, it becomes easier to communicate about the project’s progress and stay aligned on goals and objectives.

c. Increased Efficiency

By breaking down the development process into distinct phases, the software development lifecycle can improve efficiency. Each phase has its own set of goals and objectives, allowing team members to focus on specific tasks rather than trying to juggle multiple priorities at once.

d. Better Risk Management

The software development lifecycle includes risk management strategies that help mitigate potential issues before they become significant problems. For example, thorough testing during the testing and quality assurance phase can help identify and fix bugs before they impact the product’s functionality.

e. More Predictable Outcomes

Finally, following a software development lifecycle can result in more predictable outcomes. With a standardized process in place, it becomes easier to estimate timelines and costs accurately and to ensure that the product meets user requirements.

The Drawbacks of the Software Development Lifecycle

While the software development lifecycle offers many benefits, it’s not without its drawbacks. Here are some of the most common drawbacks to be aware of:

a. Longer Development Time

Because the software development lifecycle involves multiple phases, it can take longer to complete a project than with other development methodologies. This can be frustrating for organizations that need to move quickly to get a product to market. However, if SDLC is done properly where (1) the requirements are fleshed out properly, (2) the technical specifications are done based off of a single source of truth (i.e., project manager or architect), everyone involved are on the same page and adhere to the designs, etc. This greatly shortens each phase/stage for future enhancements as well as minimizes incidents after every release.

b. Higher Costs

The standardized processes involved in the software development lifecycle can also lead to higher costs. Each phase requires dedicated resources, including time and personnel, which can add up quickly. However, if done properly as stated in the previous point, additional costs can be avoided.

c. Limited Flexibility

Finally, the software development lifecycle can be relatively inflexible. Once the process is set in motion, it can be challenging to make significant changes or pivot in a new direction. However, there are different SDLC methodologies that have different degrees of adaptability/flexibility. For example, in implementing an agile methodology, updates are usually released in sprints where the team can implement enhancements in chunks. If there are certain implementations that need to be amended, teams can have the option to change the implementation on the next sprint.

How Having the Right Team Supports the SDLC

A product manager and a software development team are essential components in ensuring the effectiveness of a software development lifecycle. The product manager serves as the bridge between the development team and the business, responsible for setting product goals and defining the product vision. They work closely with the development team to ensure that the product development software is aligned with the business goals and objectives. 

The software development team, on the other hand, brings together individuals with different skill sets, working towards a common goal of developing a high-quality software product. They are responsible for ensuring that the software is developed within the specified timelines and adheres to the software development lifecycle processes. 

Together, the product manager and software development team can help identify potential issues early in the process, mitigate risks, and ensure that the final product meets the business and customer requirements.

Finding and hiring the right product manager and development team for your project can be difficult, especially with the current rise in demand for software. It can be even harder for small and medium-sized businesses with limited resources, which is why outsourcing is becoming a more viable option. Outsourcing allows small and medium companies to get the development talent they need to scale at a price they can afford. CoDev can provide a highly qualified remote product manager and a dedicated software development team for your project. To learn more, get in touch with CoDev today.


The software development lifecycle is a standardized process that guides product development software through six distinct phases. By following this methodology, organizations can benefit from improved product quality, better collaboration, increased efficiency, better risk management, and more predictable outcomes.

However, there are also some drawbacks, including longer development times, higher costs, and limited flexibility. Ultimately, organizations must decide whether the benefits of the software development lifecycle outweigh the drawbacks in their specific context, and ensure that they have the right team in place to enhance the effectiveness of applying the SDLC.

Joan Nadene

Joan Nadene

Joan Nadene, a seasoned content writer with a decade of experience in the field of outsourced work, wields a strong background in collaborating with offshore outsourcing companies and serving clients across diverse industries in the US and Australia. Joan has been an invaluable part of the CoDev team for over 7 years.

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