Systems Development Life Cycle



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What Is a Product Lifecycle?

Digital products – just like any product – follow some type of product life cycle. Product life cycle describes the different stages in the life cycle of a product, from the product idea to the disposal of the product. [1]

Many people argue that to develop digital products, project managers need to modify traditional project management methods. In other words, they always need to consider a particular product’s life cycle. [1]

What Is a Systems Development Life Cycle (SDLC)?

When talking specifically about digital products, a framework for describing the development phases is called a systems development life cycle (SDLC). [2]

There are many different methodologies and techniques which are being used for software development. [2]

Common Phases of SDLC

All these different models mentioned above have following basic phases in common in their process: [2]

  • Initiation
  • Ideation / Conception
  • Planning
  • Requirement gathering and analysis
  • Design
  • Development
  • Integration and testing
  • Implementation
  • Day to day operation and maintenance
  • Disposition: the end of system activities

Five Major Components of SDLC

Basically, the model of the system development life cycle boils down to five major components. [2] These components are addressed in the following child Insights:

Naturally these different phases can be iterative and overlapping.

It is important that both management and everybody working in this process have a sufficient understanding of the whole process. When all parties understand each other’s roles and responsibilities, there is a much bigger chance for the process to produce successful digital products.

It is also important to understand that all product disciplines – including all implementation, assembly, test and evaluation, maintenance, and support – should be involved in the early design phases.

Some Popular Models of an SDLC

Some popular models of a system development life cycle include for example the waterfall model, the spiral model, the incremental build model, and the agile model. [1,2]

  • The waterfall life cycle model. This model has well-defined, linear stages of systems analysis, design, construction, testing and support. Once one phase is finished, it proceeds to the next one. Reviews may occur before moving to the next phase which allows for the possibility of changes. However, the model discourages revisiting and revising any prior phase once it’s complete.
  • The spiral life cycle model. This model recognizes the fact that most software is developed using an iterative or spiral approach rather than a linear approach. That means that changes and revisions are possible later in the project cycle.
  • The incremental build life cycle model. This model provides for progressive development of operational software, with each release providing added capabilities.
  • Agile development. This is perhaps the most widely used SDLC model today. It uses the incremental build process as a basis. However, it has people-centric viewpoint – the primary control mechanism is user feedbacks rather than planning.


  1. Schwalbe, Kathy (2016). Information Technology Project Management (Eight Edition).
  2. Dash, Samir (2014). UX Simplified: Models & Methodologies.