Best Practices

Product Development Lifecycle – Definitive Step-by-Step Guide

Updated on
September 29, 2023

Table of content

Table of content


The first computer program's invention dates back to 1959 when software development process steps had no definite algorithm. Little did the inventors know that program coding would evolve over time to become a smooth software development process.  

These days, every software development project follows definite steps that make possible the launch of high-quality software. This is especially true for early-stage startups, where the processes may seem somewhat chaotic.

As a Project Manager with ample experience in real estate, fintech and healthcare projects, I am a big fan of a streamlined product development lifecycle. From my experience, I know how to make a software development project steps work not only on paper. So, in the blog post, we will look at the steps in the software development life cycle and the different management methodologies available.

What is Software Development Process and Where Did It Come From?

Since the 50s, when the first computer program was introduced, the product development lifecycle has enormously evolved. Marketers, project managers, and developers needed a unified artefact to document the what, when and why of every process during the development timeline. This is how the concept of the software development life cycle emerged. 

Software development lifecycle (SDLC) is a step-by-step process bringing a product’s concept from the ideation stage to implementation and eventually to the market. Typically, software development lifecycle covers the following stages:

  • Requirement analysis
  • Planning
  • Software design such as architectural design
  • Software development
  • Testing
  • Deployment
product development life cycle

Originally, Geoffrey Elliott coined the term “systems development lifecycle” in Global Business Information Technology. Since then, the software development lifecycle evolved in many variations to adapt to complex business systems development that required a lot of data processing and analysis.

The software development life cycle's main goal is to provide high-level software development within the determined timeline and budget. Thus, software development processes vary in different management methodologies, like Waterfall or Agile.

Software Development Life Cycle: Agile vs Waterfall

The classic software development process appeared in the form of the Waterfall framework in the last century. Throughout its history, the software development life cycle has changed a lot. The most significant shift happened when it transitioned from Waterfall to the Agile methodology in the 90s.

Throughout my experience as a project manager, I have worked with both methodologies. Here are my insights on both of them:

Waterfall Model: Reach Out to Perfection

The story of the Waterfall SDLC began in the previous century. Back then, the software development process somewhat resembled the Archimedes' law: people knew there was an algorithm behind the software development process but hardly realized or used it.  

The situation changed in 1979, when Dr. Winston W. Royce documented the Waterfall process in his book. The author represented the model as a logical progression of the software development life cycle, resembling the cascading steps down an incremental waterfall.

Agile Methodology: Change and Adapt

The new era of the software development process began in the 90s when the Agile methodology came out. Like in the Renaissance epoch with its human-centered refrain, Agile methodology introduced a user-centered look at software development. The whole software development cycle was now aimed at faster, better, and more flexibly satisfying user needs.

Agile methodology inherited the same stages from the Waterfall model. The main difference is that the whole timeline is broken down into a range of sprints, where the steps go around, repeating each other. 

How to Develop a Software Project Step by Step?

Inspired by the Agile philosophy, the software development progress changed. However, the logical step-by-step process introduced in the Waterfall remains a standard for software development in both methodologies. 

Here are 5 steps of software development in both Waterfall and Agile: 

product development lifecycle

Step 1 - Find a Development Team of Professionals

The first thing you should do for a smooth software development process is to hire a team of developers. These should be people who will handle not only the coding part but also those who will take over the management.

In Uptech’s case, there were multiple cases when the client came to us with a strong desire to build a competitive product but with limited resources for implementation. Take HuddleHumans, for example. The client wanted to create a full-functioning mental health social media platform. But the budget and time limits were tight.

However, with impeccable project planning, risk prevention, and communication, we built a functional MVP and added a couple of nice-to-have features.

At Uptech, we always share the clients’ desire to build a product that solves users’ problems. So, despite any limitations, we do our best to deliver a quality app. And we managed to do that numerous times!

If you want to know more about how to hire software developers, you’re welcome to check our article How To Find A Reliable Software Development Partner?

Step 2 - Prepare Requirements Collection

At the first step, it is important to gather all the functional and non-functional requirements of the product. For that, project managers talk to stakeholders, conduct research and create an image of potential users through exploration works.The results of such research are usually compiled in a Software Specification document. 

Step 3 - Think about UI/UXDesign

During the design stage, the team starts with developing the visual solution of the product. This part of the process is known as user interface design, and it stands for how users perceive the app. 

However, software design is much more than only visuals. The interface structure, user flow convenience, and general user interaction are covered by UX design

In Agile methodologies, UX design follows the Lean Design principle. It means that the app design is user-centered, aimed at exploring and satisfying the user's needs.

Step 4 - Focus on Coding

In the third step, we finally get down to coding the concepts listed above. Here, the development team implements all models, business logic, and service integrations specified in the prior stages. 

The coding stage is usually the longest, as it is the cornerstone of the whole process. The development team follows the software requirements to build a product that lives up to the stakeholder’s expectations. If the previous stages were carried out thoroughly and the conditions were clear, the development stage should not be a problem.

The development stages proceed from alpha, beta, and release candidate to product build. Once the entire architecture (DB, API, etc.) and planned functionality of the solution is built, the testing stage starts.

product development

Step 5 - Review your product with QA Stage

At the QA stage, the testing specialists discover and inform about the problems that arise while using the system. The testing frameworks may vary depending on the project, including automation and/or manual testing. 

Step 6 - Care about your product with Operations stage

Finally, the application goes on to be deployed in a live environment. This stage involves deployment, support, and maintenance necessary to keep the system functional and up-to-date. 

In Waterfall methodology the software development cycle stops here, whereas in Agile the team would start the whole cycle anew with a new iteration of the product.


Smooth software development life cycle is crucial to deliver a quality product that will meet the user's needs. Be it the classic Waterfall or flexible Agile, the core of the development process remains the same.

At Uptech, we aim to make each of the development steps utmost productive and centered around the business needs. With 5 years of experience building products for early-stage startups, we know how to lead your idea from validation to complete realization of the business needs.

Contact us to discuss your idea and start a new journey together.


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