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The four major software development lifecycle models and how they work – ITProPortal

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By published 15 March 22
What are the different software development lifecycles?
The software development lifecycle (SDLC) in software engineering is a methodology that defines the logical steps for developing a custom software product. This methodology is used to structure, plan and control the software development process. 
In simple terms, we can define SDLCs as a series of separate methodologies that a developer can use to standardise the process of software development (opens in new tab). A number of SDLC models are available, but choosing the right one is no easy task: and with enterprises relying on software (opens in new tab), it’s key to ensure that the correct model is chosen and taken forward.
In this article we’ll try to highlight the main advantages and disadvantages of some commonly-used SDLCs.
the waterfall software development model illustrated
This is one of the simplest, classic life-cycle models, also known as the “linear-sequential” life cycle model. In a waterfall model, each phase must be completed before moving onto the next. A review process is scheduled at the end of each phase to check that the project is on the right track. The steps are as follows:
Advantages of the waterfall model
Disadvantages of the waterfall model
the iterative software development model illustrated
The Iterative model can be thought of as a “multi-waterfall” cycle. Cycles are divided into smaller and easily managed iterations. Each iteration passes through a series of phases, so after each cycle you will get working software.
Advantages of the iterative model
Disadvantages of the iterative model
the spiral software development model illustrated
The spiral model is similar to the iterative model, but places more emphasis on risk analysis. The steps involved in this model can be generalised as follows:
Consecutive prototypes are then evolved through a fourfold procedure:
Advantages of the spiral model
Disadvantages of the spiral model
the prototype software development model illustrated
The prototype model is used to overcome the limitations of the waterfall model. In this model, instead of freezing the requirements before coding or design, a prototype is built to clearly understand the requirements. This prototype is built based on the current requirements. 
Through examining this prototype, the client gets a better understanding of the features of the final product. The processes involved in the prototyping approach are shown in the image above.
Advantages of the prototype model
Disadvantages of the prototype
Across these four common models, you can see the variety in approach to software development lifecycles, with different levels of process applied. As with all development, quality assurance is key when it comes to software (opens in new tab), and aligning development goals with business strategy (opens in new tab) is integral to a smoother process.
With software development, we’ve looked into whether Covid-19 changed it for the better or the worse (opens in new tab), and explored how you can ensure app security within one of the given development lifecycle models (opens in new tab). Additionally, we’ve outlined how you can build continuous improvement into software development (opens in new tab) regardless of the model, and explained why developers are in high demand as the acceleration to digital transformation (opens in new tab) continues.
Will is US and Ecommerce Editor at IT Pro, and previously focused on a range of ecommerce verticals across IT Pro Portal, Tom’s Guide, and TechRadar Pro. He has over 12 years of B2B experience across both online content and magazine production.
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