Is The SDLC Obsolete? Views From Top Developers

May 09, 2022


Everything in the technology industry becomes obsolete. It’s inevitable. The faster the industry progresses, the more often we see:

  • Programming languages
  • Frameworks and especially
  • Hardware

Becoming obsolete. Will this be true for a method introduced in the 1960s? I speak of course, of the SDLC.

We all have heard the phrase, “Plan your work and work your plan”. Proper planning is central to the success of any initiative, including software development.

That’s where many elite software engineers stepped in and came up with the SDLC. The Software Development Lifecycle defines how any software will be made and maintained. SDLC converted many ideas and market requirements into product functionality and features. It continues to set the direction today as well.

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But Is The SDLC Obsolete?

The Software Development Lifecycle is not completely obsolete. But a pertinent threat is the Agile Approach.

SDLC was very popular for a very long time. But increasingly, it has been associated with a traditional plan-driven methodology. The SDLC focus appears to be on:

  • Predictability
  • Planning, and
  • Control.

It does not work well in environments with a high degree of uncertainty.

We all know that traditional SDLC is typically divided into sequential phases. i.e.

  • Requirements definition
  • Design
  • Development
  • Testing and
  • Deployment

An SDLC is based on what is called a “Defined Process Control Model“. It uses a well-defined process that is different for every project. There are numerous limitations to such a process. The biggest limitation is that it is not very adaptable to uncertainty.

Agile methodologies apply an “Empirical Process Control Model“. This means that both the:

  • Product and the
  • Process

Used to produce the product will be adjusted throughout the process. (To optimize the end product). This approach is much more adaptable to environments with uncertain requirements. Software development approaches are not mutually exclusive, of course. Software developers use a combination of both approaches in a given situation.

Agile Software Development Lifecycle

Nowadays, major onsite development companies want timely software development and delivery. They’re tolerant in dealing with rapid changes. This is a bit difficult with SDLC models, the linear method of work and various long cycles do take a lot of time.

Agile SDLC provides a flexible approach to software development in a fast-paced environment. Even with ever-changing customer needs. What a contrast.

The most important benefit of Agile SDLC is effective project management despite continuous changes. A team of Java developers and other coders can identify change requirements sooner. They can deliver updates more often. This would take up to 10 times more time in any traditional SDLC model.

The fundamental concepts and phases of SDLC still exist. The implementation has evolved to accommodate change.

Under traditional software development, a company first composes a detailed overview of all potential requirements. And then designs software that meets all these predicted requirements. This makes the traditional development process time-consuming.

By contrast, Agile SDLC bases itself on two approaches – iterative and incremental.

Incremental Approach

The incremental approach divides software into modules. Each module will be created piece by piece. New functionality is added at each step and new features are built on top of existing ones.

The incremental approach is popular with project sponsors. Because it leads to the speedy development of a Minimum Viable Product (MVP).

Iterative Approach

An iterative approach means that you create new software through refinements. You create an MVP and, later, refine its features and various tools. There are two advantages of this approach:

  1. The development team can work on various parts of a product simultaneously.
  2. The development team can make changes easily.

There are many Agile SDLC approaches. All aim to quickly imbibe changes and deliver working software in the least amount of time.

Agile Frameworks

Today there are several refined agile frameworks designed by top software engineers. Each has a different focus, process, and benefits. Some of the most well-known frameworks are:

  • Scrum
  • Kanban
  • Extreme Programming (XP)


Scrum is a highly iterative agile framework that operates in sprints. Features and objectives are defined before each sprint. Each sprint is designed to reduce risk. While providing value as soon as possible. In each sprint, a team commits to completing several user stories.


Kanban is like a large to-do list, which helps in prioritizing tasks. Central to Kanban is that tasks and their status be visualized as cards on a board, visible to everyone working on the project. When a

  • Developer
  • Tester or
  • Other team members

are ready for more work, they pin a task on the board labeled “Doing” or to a specific work status like “Testing”.

Extreme Programming

As its name suggests, Extreme Programming is a very disciplined management method. It focuses on continuously improving the quality and speed of software delivery. The development team collaborates with customers to deliver software. Like Scrum, delivery is in iterations of 1 to 3 weeks. Top developers usually have the capabilities to go for Extreme Programming. (As it requires long durations of coding).


Iterations are still part of every framework that was once a basic part of SDLC. Even now, software engineers need to have a deep knowledge of SDLC during IT interviews. The more advanced topics in SDLC might become obsolete. But the basic SDLC principles are still applied in every software development approach.

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Shaharyar Lalani is a developer with a strong interest in business analysis, project management, and UX design. He writes and teaches extensively on themes current in the world of web and app development, especially in Java technology.

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