5 Key Phases of Software Development Life Cycle

| Updated on February 28, 2024

The software development life cycle consists of five main stages: analysis and planning, design, development, testing, and maintenance. Learn what each stage is about.

5 Main Stages of a Software Development Life Cycle

The software development life cycle (SDLC) describes a progression of steps undertaken by product development and management teams to create and maintain software. Each software product is unique. That is why it is crucial to have visionary leadership and a deep understanding of the five main SDLC stages. We have asked Purrweb experts what each stage entails.

Analysis, and Planning

This is the most important and influential stage. The following steps will rely heavily upon the information gathered at this stage. Planning and analysis include the following: 

  • target audience identification
  • competitive research
  • consulting industry experts
  • analysis of the received data
  • creation of a software requirement specification (SRS).

Let us have a look at the process of planning and analysis in detail.

Target Audience Identification

It is important to remember that there is no universal answer to the question of who your target audience is. Your product might be useful to people from different walks of life for various purposes. Based on the main software objectives, form several marketing personas. These are key characteristics (occupation, age, interests, location, etc.) of people who will benefit the most from your product and believe it is worth paying for it. To verify or invalidate your assumptions, you have to interview the respondents who match your descriptions. 

Competitive Research

Begin with analyzing your direct competitors. These are the companies solving the same problems the way your software does. Think about what makes your product better and why most of your rivals’ clients would switch to your software.

Then switch to your indirect competitors. These are the firms and products satisfying the same needs as your software but in a different way. Think of taxis and electric scooters: both provide transportation, though the approaches are different. 

Sometimes the companies think their product has no competition. However, any product does. Even if the first two types are absent, you still challenge every other product for the time and money of your target audience. This is the third level of competition, also called replacement competition. An example might be a person deciding whether to spend money on a holiday or a new fridge.

Consulting Industry Experts 

Unless you develop a product for a niche you are intimately familiar with, you should consider consulting industry experts. They know about the possible pitfalls you might encounter.


Analyze the obtained data. Does the project still seem viable to you? If not, make all the necessary adjustments and modifications to your initial plan according to the gathered information. 

Creation of Software Requirements Specification (SRS)

SRS is a set of requirements for the software. It is typically a result of the joint efforts of a technical writer, developer, UI/UX specialist, client manager, and product owner. 

Software Design

The next stage is software design. Make sure it is performed with strict adherence to the SRS. First, you need to work on the high-level design (HLD). This is an outline of the software structure. It describes the general architecture, including the relationship between various elements of the program.

Then you can move on to low-level design (LLD). Do this after the HLD is done and approved both by the development team and the product owner. LLD is much more detailed than HLD. Here, the developers describe the design of all individual program components that were identified in HLD. HLD serves as a core for LLD development, whereas LLD becomes the basis for product development. 

Product Development

The third and the most time-consuming stage of SDLS is product development. The most important thing to remember is that the development team cannot stray from the outlined software design. Any changes to LLD must be approved by the product owner and should be kept to a minimum.

Development teams usually consist of various experts, and each of them is responsible for particular tasks. For example, UI/UX experts and front-end developers work on the interface, while coding is done by software developers. 

It is worth adding that depending on the agreed-upon specifications, different programming languages and tools can be used by the development team to achieve maximum efficiency. 


Implementation of modern testing techniques is crucial to ensure high levels of performance and overall software quality. There are five main types of testing: 

  • Functional testing aims to define whether the software is in line with all of the predetermined specifications and requirements. 
  • Unit testing helps developers determine whether each individual program component acts as intended. 
  • Performance testing is conducted to ascertain how the software acts under practical conditions as well as how stable and responsive it is.
  • Security testing must be done to detect any potential flaws that might be exploited by cybercriminals. Protecting corporate and client data is of paramount importance for every company, so security testing has to be conducted thoroughly.
  • Usability testing can be viewed as an extension of performance testing. It is conducted by a group of people performing typical software tasks while being observed by the development team.

Testing is a vital stage of SDLC because it minimizes the risk of product malfunction after the launch.

Deployment and Maintenance

Deployment is an exciting phase for a product owner and one that should be executed seamlessly. This stage consists of three steps.

  • Introduction to the market. Newly released software does not bring immediate profit, so you need to contact your customer base and convince them to use your product. This requires much effort, so you had better develop your marketing strategy in advance.
  • Detecting bugs and fixing them. From the development perspective, it is vital to fix any bugs that users might encounter. 
  • Continuous improvement. Users are your primary source of information in terms of product feature improvements. Make sure you establish strong company-client communication channels and actively seek user feedback.

From time to time any software product has to be updated. That is why product maintenance requires regular reviews of its functionality.


The SDLC consists of five main stages: analysis and planning, software design, product development, testing, and deployment and maintenance. Each stage has peculiarities that should be taken into account. Planning and analysis, as well as deployment, tend to be the longest processes, where the product owner has the largest area of responsibility, while others are mainly executed by the development team.

Billy Willson


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