16 Best Practices for Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC)

Editorial Team

16 Best Practices for SDLC

If you are a software developer, you definitely go through the SDLC processes each passing day, whether you know that already or not.

The Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) is a software development process which includes delivering software which consists of a detailed process of development, maintenance, alterations, and others. It involves several different stages like design, planning, testing, development, and deployment. Some of the popular models are Spiral, Waterfall, and Agile.

SDLC improves quality of software, shortens production time and lowers the development cost by following a plan which eliminates major and common mistakes in the projects. It requires you to evaluate systems to find loopholes. It develops the software with the stages of development, design, deployment, and testing. SDLC can help avoid after-the-fact fixes and continuous rework by addressing costly mistakes like not asking for feedback from the end users.

1. Planning

We mostly get stuck in this part of a project. We often make ideas and outlines we are usually not going to use rather than doing the real work. The stage of planning includes gathering resources for software development projects, for example, your deadline, what exactly should be accomplished, your overall budget, when you can finish, and the resources needed.

Then, it is vital to review your needs to find out what you can achieve. You can create the next steps you can take after having the list of requirements. Suppose your client has given a strict deadline to deliver the finished product. If you don’t have enough members in your team to finish the job on a timely basis, you may want to hire freelancers. It means you won’t have enough money for other areas and you might have to go off budget.

This way, these should be your next actionable steps –

  • Ask for more money to hire a freelancer
  • Reach out with reliable sources, or post a job description
  • Balance the workload by considering a new recruit

The stage of planning also includes negotiating/determining a timeframe to complete the project and assigning jobs. For doing the same, make a scope document to determine the workload with your team, resources you will need and when you are going to remain busy.

If you are the part of a larger team, the experienced team will definitely lead the planning stage. They help determine the timeline and delegate tasks if you don’t have a full-time project manager. If you are the only one, you will need to do all the planning and finish all the tasks.

All in all, planning is the process that will help you determine your timeline and end goal. You may not know what the final product will come out to be. But if you start developing without planning, you end up spending plenty of time recreating waste pieces.

2. Analysis

In this phase of SDLC, you have to consider and define all the requirements approved and document them. Documentation will be the recurring and consistent phase of Software Development Life Cycle. You should know what you did, everything to do, when you did, and how.

It is a buffer phase between getting requirements and working on them. This way, your team can ensure the right track before acting on it. You need to get clarification or approval from your clients on when to complete specific parts of the project. If you have made a rough estimate of timeline, present the same to your client and explain what you can deliver in a given time frame practically.

The key here is to spend some time to define and clarify goals to save some great headaches later. But don’t spend a lot of time here. Work on it to get the green signal to proceed.  

3. Design

It is the stage of planning to work on all the technicalities of the project. You can work considering how they may come out from the view of UI and development, as you know what your client needs. In this phase, your team member will discuss the project requirements and specifications at a broad level, such as the process itself and how they are going to code the finished product.

After getting a proper briefing about the new project, you can now start building your software. In this phase, everyone knows in your team as what they need to do and how.

4. Development

In this phase, you have to do everything you have discussed in all the above phases for a long time. With all the information you have at hand, such as approved ideas and requirements, you have to put together something which is usable and which does what should be done.

You have to test all your ideas. So, this is the most challenging part of the SDLC process. There are millions of things that could come to your mind for the final project and there are great chances of distraction. This is where you need to work out on all the designing and planning you have done. After all, you will have proper guidelines to go through. The deadline is next week. So, there is no such time to add other new features to extend the timeline.

This is where you can make something which works. Here, you can solve all your problems which come in your way and find innovative and unique ideas with your team.

5. Testing

So everything you build actually works. Testing is one of the important parts of the whole development process. Delivering software which is not designed according to the given requirements and specifications or the one with lots of bugs must be the last thing you can do.

In this stage, you should do all the testing required in your system to ensure that all of the moving parts are working well. Make sure they all work together as you build the system.

Testing is a consistent process and can start early on the phase of designing and can still run till maintenance. As you create things and keep them together in the development process, the testing is the phase where you can show your work. If you skip testing, you might end up delivering totally buggy and useless software. As a result, all your hard work will go in vain.

6. Deployment

Congrats, you are all set to roll! You tested your program and you are ready to present something. There are different stages of deployment. In this process, you can release just the parts that are working and ready. You can also launch the beta version of the software for select testers so they can give feedback and you can make tweaks before you roll out the full version in public.

In this phase, the product is finally delivered to the public. You and the team have had a close look at the system for a long time to understand how it will work for the first time users. People who are going to use the system on a daily basis will provide genuine feedback on whether there is a chance for improvement or there is no issue.  

7. Maintenance

Keep in mind that there is still a chance to work as a software developer even after the product launches or at the onset of the final deadline. Maintenance is the consistent process to update your system from time to time. You have to fix bugs as they come out and improve it for the best use.

After completing the software development process, be sure to define the terms of maintenance. Is maintenance included in the process? Will you charge extra for maintenance? Will the tech team of your client handle the process of rolling out updates? Will you be available 24×7 in case there is a problem?  

Maintenance is very vital to update or improve the software product. Without updates or improvements, your software product will be less efficient with time. It will also affect your reputation along with it. So, you have to maintain your product well to show that you are dedicated to your work and quality.

8. Documentation

Along with the software, you also have to work on the document part, such as project requirements, plan, Low-Level Design, High-Level Design, test reports, test plans, user documentation, and status reports. Most of the time, these documents are simply deliverables specified by the stakeholders and customers. These documents help ensure tracking, understanding of the program and avoid relying on the development team. You can use them as a future reference for someone who might use the software or work on it.

9. Gather Reviews

Reviews are known to be very effective and a lot more affordable to detect any defects. You should review all the codes, deliverables and documents. Review management, planning and problem-solving can include several best practices and techniques. Expert and public reviews play a vital role.

10. Quality Control

Proper quality control helps in faster and smoother execution of the project. From efficient tool based on quality metrics and defect tracking, best practices have been helpful to decide the preparedness of a project for great delivery or stage. You can set the targets and metrics to ensure that the design, requirement, test plan, code, and other documents and deliverables. Actually, quality analysts and representatives are leading experts who can audit the projects on the basis of quality.

11. Change Management

Requirements are subject to change over time when the project is being deployed or developed. It can be because of a change in expectations from the users or customers, change in meeting business needs or failing to predict a conflict on time. You need to enable control mechanism to meet the important changes without affecting the current functionality, rather than resisting change. It is very vital to have a Change Control Board to decline or accept changes and ensure a smooth addition of change in the plan and schedule.

12. Hire the right talents

It is very vital to hire the right talents with relevant experience and skill sets to ensure the success of a project. You also have to allocate the right job to the right team member. At the same time, you should invest in tools which can improve the productivity and efficiency of the team. The updated hardware, latest systems, testing platforms, and development, along with automated tools can be very helpful to the team to use their expertise well and ensure using the best product. 

13. Go with the Best Development Process

The SDLC highly relies on the adopted process. Some of the proven approaches for project success are Agile, Waterfall model, and Iterative Spiral method. So, you need to choose the one which meets your unique project needs. The proper application of the process and adherence to it plays a vital role in the success of a project. It is usually the best way to explore new technology or make a small prototype to keep track of feasibility.

14. Create Smaller Milestones

Combine major milestones and larger projects with small milestones to improve control, tractability and mitigate risk. Your stakeholders can discuss and align these milestones with larger ones to meet the overall goal and lower the delays due to inter-dependency.

15. Make the Right Estimates

Improper estimates are one of the major reasons behind the project failures or overshot deadlines. Proper estimates on budget, schedules, efforts, and resources are some of the key drivers of sound planning. Be sure to use the right estimation techniques. Making changes to estimates to short-schedule a project unrealistically can definitely cause disaster. 

16. Share what you have learned

Improvement is an infinite process. Hence it should be done in a company’s culture and ethos as well as the Software Development Life Cycle itself. A new and successful strategy in a project can definitely be helpful in upcoming projects. So, there is nothing wrong if you share what you have learned in the previous projects and encourage stakeholders to learn and adapt better ways as well. 


So these were some of the best SDLC practices which cover most of the development projects. When done right, the software development life cycle enables a great level of documentation and management control. Even better, developers should have proper knowledge of what to build and why. Everyone should be agreed on the up-front goal and have clear insight for the goal. Everyone should know the resources and costs needed.

Failing to consider the needs of all stakeholders and users as well as customers can cause poor insight into the requirements. SDLC works only if you follow the plan well.