Software Development Life Cycle – Everything You Need to Know

If you are developing a product or are only getting started, software development life cycle or SDLC is a concept to be aware of. Nowadays, there are 50+ SDLC models that can significantly impact not only the project’s quality but also its budget, delivery time, and final impression. The software development process is complex, but by choosing the right model, you can significantly improve the performance.

None of these models is perfect because all of them have pros and cons and can fit the needs and requirements of particular projects. In this post, we want to tell you about the most popular software development methodologies, their advantages and drawbacks, and help you decide which model is the best for your particular needs.

What is SDLC?

Let us start with a definition. Software development life cycle or SDLC is a set of stages that the process of creating software consists of. In more complex words, the life cycle explains how the software is developed from the stage of inventing the idea to launching the product. Only professional software developers have the necessary skills and knowledge of every SDLC process. Such specialists can help you choose the right model depending on the guidelines and expectations.

Remember, to ensure positive results, and the SDLC model should be selected according to your problem and context. There is no general model that suits all requests. Below we will tell you about different models and when it is better to use them.

Sdlc process in 7 stages

The software development process, not depending on the niche, should consist of the following stages: planning, requirements feasibility, prototyping, software development, testing, integration, and maintenance. Almost every stage requires different specialists, so if the budget allows, we recommend hiring a professional company that offers turn-key solutions.

Different types of software development life cycle models

As we have mentioned above, there is no universal lifecycle model that would fit all your needs. Fortunately, below we will give you enough information to help choose the best approach.

Here are the most common and popular models at the moment:

  • Waterfall
  • V model
  • Incremental and iterative
  • Spiral model
  • Agile

The waterfall model

The waterfall methodology is the earliest software development model. It is presented in a sequential flow, and the progress can be seen from one phase of the project to another in a downwards mode. The SDLC waterfall model means that the next stage starts only if the previous one is finished successfully. Thus, it is impossible to return to the previous phase and fix anything. A good waterfall model example is a request for proposals or a project with strict requirements and guidelines.

Waterfall model advantages and disadvantages

The waterfall model, as you understand, has its pros and cons. To help you make a weighted decision, let us enumerate all of them.

Advantages are:

  • Simple to explain
  • Has a clear structure
  • Guidelines are accurate
  • Contributes to scheduling the product

Disadvantages are:

  • Hard to return to previous stages
  • Lacks flexibility
  • Rather time and money consuming

The v-shaped or simply v model

The approach introduced after the waterfall one is called the v model methodology. It also moves down, but instead of a linear way, it creates a V shape. The main difference between these two models is that the first includes early planning. V model testing proves to be rather efficient and is applied in many cases. So what is v model? It is an approach where the requirements and stages, as well as instruments, are well-known and working.

V model advantages and disadvantages

To give you a better understanding of the V-model, let’s enumerate its strong and weak sides.


  • Rather easy to utilize
  • Every phase is resultative
  • Starts with a test stage which contributes to better results compared to the waterfall model
  • Product’s verification at an early stage


  • Not flexible
  • Absence of early prototypes
  • Expensive

An incremental and iterative model

When reading about various software development approaches, you might have questions like what is an incremental model? or what is an iterative model? It is quite popular, and there are lots of articles online. However, they are rather complex and might not give you the answers you have been looking for.

First of all, the incremental process model aims to overcome the drawbacks of the waterfall approach. The main principle of the iterative model is to create a system with several cycles that repeat themselves. The incremental model is good for big projects which have several built-in parts and for products with separate elements.

Incremental and iterative: advantages and disadvantages

The benefits of this model include:

  • Problems can be found quickly
  • Better focus on customers
  • Changes are made faster
  • Effective usage of sources

The drawbacks include:

  • Lots of documentation
  • Higher involvement of the audience
  • Dividing functions is difficult

Spiral Model (SDM)

The spiral methodology was created for large and expensive projects and has taken the best out of the waterfall and prototyping models. It has elements of these models in order to gather all the benefits in one place. The spiral model sticks to the regular waterfall stages, but they are separated by the preparation and planning phase, risk evaluation, and creation of simulations.

The spiral model of software development use cases

The spiral process model has a rather distinguishing feature compared to the models discussed above: it engages customers. They are introduced to every stage of the process, can test and evaluate it. The only exception is the development phase. When the spiral methodology is used:

  • Ambitious and demanding projects
  • Complicated projects with several goals
  • Development of an innovative project that requires researching
Spiral model advantages and disadvantages

As you see, spiral development is different from the waterfall, v-shape, and iterative models. However, the spiral method has both strong and weak sides. They are:


  • Budgeting and schedules are clear
  • Strong customer-developer cooperation
  • Good risk management
  • Great for complex projects

Disadvantages of the spiral development model

  • Expensive
  • Requires attracting lots of specialists
  • Limited re-usability

The Rational Unified Process (RUP)

You won’t confuse the rational unified process model with another one because it is divided into four specific stages: inception, design, development, and transition. Every rup phase consists of several iterations. If you want to understand what is rup, imagine a mixture of iterative and linear approaches. All activities (testing, design, and so on) are completed simultaneously. Rup model has numerous fans and can be a great option for a variety of projects.

The rup methodology use cases

To understand the rup process better, you should learn when it is used—actually, any time when you want to build a secure and flexible project. Involvement of the client, duration of iterations, and the number of required documents in the rational unified process vary from one project to another. The rup phases are a good solution for risky products and top-notch software.

The Agile group

The next models we are going to discuss fall under the same category – Agile. Actually, more than 75% of modern projects use this group. So what is agile? It is based on an iterative methodology but involves tight communication and customer feedback at an early stage.

The agile development is conducted within iterations, and each iteration usually takes a few weeks. The main aim of this methodology is to deliver a particular part of the product quickly. Agile requires less documentation and more testing. The models we are going to discuss below are Scrum, Extreme Programming, and Kanban.

The agile methodology

Agile software development is all about tight communication between the developers and the customers. At the end of the iteration, clients review works that have been done and may change task priority and ROI. Agile programming is marked by regular releases and flexibility. On the other hand, the approach lacks thorough planning, so sometimes it is difficult to evaluate budgets and deadlines.

The agile process is suitable for startups, middle-size projects, and large products that can be divided into functional sections.

Scrum methodology

What is scrum? It is a methodology that is based on incremental and iterative models. Scrum development is quick, adjustable, and rather effective. With the help of scrum agile, customers can get timely and clear information about the project and its progress.

Agile methodology scrum

Actually, scrum and agile come hand in hand because this model is the most popular one. Scrum process iterations or sprints, as they are usually called, last around 2-4 weeks and involve clear scrum frameworks and planning. When the activities have been set and documented, it is almost impossible to add changes. That is probably one of the biggest drawbacks of Scrum software development.

Extreme programming methodology (XP)

What is extreme programming is the next question we are going to discuss. Its iterations usually last for up to two weeks. When applying XP practices, the changes can be done even if the iteration is launched. This flexibility may complicate the development process, but the problem is solved with pair programming and test automation.

Agile extreme programming

XP development can significantly boost the quality of created software and better cooperation of the team. XP methodology is considered the most specific framework among other Agile approaches. The main practices include:

  • Continuous integration
  • Test-driven development
  • Pair work
  • Refactoring

Kanban methodology

What is kanban? If you are interested in the Agile group, this question has surely crossed your mind. The main feature that distinguishes agile kanban methodology is the absence of clear iterations. If they still take place, they are mostly performed in brief daily sprints. With the help of the kanban board, team members have the necessary information about the project, its goals, responsibilities, and progress. This allows prioritizing tasks and understands what is going on. One of the benefits of the kanban system is that customers can check the status any time they want.

Kanban vs scrum: what’s the difference?

Above we have already discussed Kanban development and other approaches. You might notice that Kanban and Scrum are the most popular ones. That is why many readers want to understand what is the difference between scrum and kanban for software development. To help you understand, let us compare them.

Scrum aims to solve difficult assignments while creating valuable projects. Kanban, on the other side, aims to improve the quality of processes through visuals. Scrum practices include Sprint, review, and retrospective. Kanban manages flow, experiments, and uses feedback loops. The kanban process also doesn’t have any formal roles.

Kanban agile methodology

What is kanban in agile? Above we have already given you the answer, and now you know that the kanban method stands on the pillars of continuous iteration and testing. Thanks to the kanban project management, it is quite easy to control the workflow, understand how it operates, and give customers the answers they might need. The main goal of kanban software is to satisfy customers.

To create jira kanban, follow these steps:

  • Press Search and choose View boards /li>
  • Press Create board
  • Pick the board type (Scrum, Kanban, or Agility)
  • Decide whether you create a brand-new project or add it to an existing project

Which SDLC methodology should I choose?

In this blog, we have discussed the most popular and widely used SDLC models, as well as different methodologies and processes. Now you know that SDLC processes are unique, and it is impossible to apply the same approach to all products.
If you still can’t understand the principles of different SDLC models, decide whether your project is big or small, simple or complex, if you have a limited budget, and so on. A good idea is to hire an experienced developer or company that is well familiar with SDLC methodologies and knows how to use them.

Published by Dana Adams
Content Marketing Manager