• Online Degree Explore Bachelor’s & Master’s degrees
  • MasterTrack™ Earn credit towards a Master’s degree
  • University Certificates Advance your career with graduate-level learning
  • Top Courses
  • Join for Free

What Is the Software Development Life Cycle? SDLC Explained

Learn what the seven stages of SDLC are and how they help developers bring new software products to life.

[Featured Image] A software developer works through the steps of the software development life cycle.

Software development life cycle (SDLC) is the term used in the software industry to describe the process for creating a new software product. Software developers use this as a guide to ensure software is produced with the lowest cost and highest possible quality in the shortest amount of time.

There are seven stages in the SDLC and six common models that are used for different projects. In this guide, we'll go through each stage and model to give you an overview of what becoming a software developer entails.

What is the software development life cycle (SDLC)?

The software development life cycle (SDLC) is the process of planning, writing, modifying, and maintaining software. Developers use the methodology as they design and write modern software for computers, cloud deployment, mobile phones, video games, and more. Adhering to the SDLC methodology helps to optimize the final outcome.

In IT, the term "life cycle" was first used in the 1950s and 1960s to describe the stages involved in developing a new computer system, but it is now commonly used to refer to all stages in the production of any type of software [ 1 ]. 

Read more: How to Become a Software Developer | 9 Tips


professional certificate

IBM Full Stack Software Developer

Kickstart your career in application development. Master Cloud Native and Full Stack Development using hands-on projects involving HTML, JavaScript, Node.js, Python, Django, Containers, Microservices and more. No prior experience required.

(3,465 ratings)

29,484 already enrolled


Average time: 4 month(s)

Learn at your own pace

Skills you'll build:

Cloud Native, Devops, Iaas PaaS Saas, Hybrid Multicloud, Cloud Computing, Web Development, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), HTML, Git (Software), JavaScript, Distributed Version Control (DRCS), open source, Version Control Systems, Github, User Interface, React (Web Framework), Front-end Development, back-end development, Server-side JavaScript, express, Computer Science, Data Science, Python Programming, Data Analysis, Pandas, Numpy, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Web Application, Application development, Flask, Relational Database (RDBMS), Object Relational Mapping (ORM), SQL, Django (Web Framework), Back-End Applications, Kubernetes, Docker, Containers, Openshift, serverless, Microservices, Representational State Transfer (REST), Cloud Applications, Full Stack Development, Node.Js

Why is the SDLC important?

The SDLC is important because it helps ensure that the right people are involved in the right activities at the right times. Using a structured approach to developing software helps ensure that your project will be successful. Some of the SDLC's benefits are:

Understanding your requirements and the goal of the software

Identify risks at an early stage

Plan how you will deliver your solution in stages, such as building prototypes or writing functional specifications

Measure your progress relative to your goals and ensure everything is on track

7 stages of the software development life cycle

Each stage in the SDLC has its own set of activities that need to be performed by the team members involved in the development project. While the process timeline will vary from project to project, the SDLC generally follows the seven stages outlined below.

Stage 1: Plan and brainstorm.

The first step in the software development life cycle is planning. It's when you gather the team to brainstorm, set goals, and identify risks. At this stage, the team will work together to devise a set of business goals, requirements, specifications, and any high-level risks that might hinder the project's success.

Stage 2: Analyze requirements.

Once you've come up with some ideas, it's time to organize them into a cohesive plan and design. This requires a lot of research and planning to ensure that your final product meets your expectations (and those of your customers). The big step is creating a detailed project plan document and work breakdown structure that outlines the requirements.

Stage 3: Design the mockups.

Once you've got your design plans in front of you, it's time for wireframing and mockups. This step builds upon the planning stage, building out the tasks you need to do in the work breakdown schedule. There are plenty of tools available, such as Adobe XD or InVision, that make this process much easier than ever before.

Stage 4: Develop the code.

The development phase is where coding begins to take place. It is one of the most time-consuming phases in the SDLC. This phase often requires extensive programming skills and knowledge of databases. The team will build functionality for the product or service, which includes creating a user interface and building the database so users can store information in your system.

Stage 5: Test the product.

Before releasing the mockups into final production, you'll need to test it to ensure it is free of bugs and errors. Any issues need to be fixed before moving forward with deployment. You'll also need to manage how the system will integrate into existing systems, software, and processes.

Stage 6: Implement and launch the product.

Once you've completed all testing phases, it's time to deploy your new application for customers to use. After deployment, the launch may involve marketing your new product or service so people know about its existence. If the software is in-house, it may mean implementing the change management process to ensure user training and acceptance.

Stage 7: Set up maintenance and operations.

The final stage of the software development life cycle is maintenance and operations. This is one of the most critical stages because it's when your hard work gets put to the test.

Maintenance involves updating an existing software product to fix bugs and ensure reliability. It can also include adding new features or functionality to a current product. Operations refer to the day-to-day running of a software product or service, such as performing backups and other administrative tasks.

How to become a software developer

Becoming a software developer requires learning the key skills, programming languages, and concepts needed to build software products. These days, many people are successfully pivoting or switching their careers from education, the service industry, and more to coding and development. They may complete bootcamps or earn professional certificates online such as IBM's Full Stack Cloud Developer .

Software development models

There are six main software development approach models available in the market. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. They are listed below:

Waterfall model: The waterfall model remains one of the most popular process models in software development. Used since the 1970s, the waterfall model is a sequential design process that moves in a straight line from one phase to the next. Developers use this approach when the requirements for a product are well-defined and resources are available. However, it can perform inconsistently if requirements change frequently.

Agile model: The Agile software development process aims to deliver high-quality software early, often, and at a low cost. Agile methods prioritize working software over comprehensive pre-planning and documentation, which can slow the creative process. It is a modern approach with short phases that works well when software requirements are likely to emerge as the development process begins. The Agile model offers more flexibility than the Waterfall model, but it is not always suitable for large-scale projects with complex requirements because it lacks initial documentation.

Read more: What Is Agile? And When to Use It

Iterative model: The iterative model organizes the development process into small cycles instead of a strictly linear progression. This allows developers to make changes incrementally and frequently so they learn from mistakes before they become expensive. Developers get feedback from users throughout the process with the iterative model, so it's ideal for large projects with a strong leadership team.

V-shaped model: Also called the Verification and Validation model, the V-Shaped model allows for simultaneous development and testing. Like Waterfall, this model follows a linear progression, but you only move on to the next stage once the team finishes the previous one. The V-shaped model focuses on documentation and planning so it's ideal for large-scale projects with long schedules. However, the rigidity built into the system only allows for infrequent changes.

Big Bang model: Compared to other software development models, Big Bang has less structure. With this model, developers start working with little more than an understanding of the project requirements. They must figure out things as they go along, as they put most of the resources into the software development stage. Big Bang focuses on getting something working quickly. This approach works well with small projects, where one or two developers can work together to determine requirements and solutions as they code. However, it can be expensive and time-consuming for large projects.

Spiral model: The spiral model combines elements of other models, namely Waterfall and Iterative. Developers work in shorter cycles, and the work within the cycles follows a linear progression. After each iteration, the software gradually gets better. The key advantage of this model is that it helps manage risk very effectively by focusing on small portions of risk at a time and using different approaches based on the risk profile at that stage. This allows developers to make adjustments without compromising the project's outcome. This approach works well in highly complex, large, expensive projects.

New to software development?

If you haven’t yet started your journey as a software developer, you might ask yourself, “Is software development for me?” Here are some signs that this career path might be one that you will enjoy.

You love problem-solving and logical reasoning.

You feel at home in the world of technology and hardware.

You enjoy working with computers and programming languages like C++, Java, or Python.

You dream of creating a software product that can positively impact people around the world.

As you take your first steps into a software development career, consider potential employers and particular areas of interest. You can specialize in cloud computing or mobile app development or become a generalist who is an expert at applying the SDLC across many types of software.

How to choose a programming language to learn

It may also be helpful to choose your first software language to learn. Languages like C# and Java are still in demand by employers, but many new languages are emerging, too. Before choosing a language, you need to know what you want to code, but simple front-end development languages like JavaScript, HTML, and CSS are good places to start.

Software developer careers and job outlook

Software development is a field where you can be a generalist or specialize in a particular language or software platform. Software developer salaries vary based on their level of expertise and experience. According to Lightcast™, the average annual wage for software developers is $121,375 [2]. Here are some examples of annual base salaries* in the US for different software developer roles:

Lead software developer: $122,646

Cloud software developer: $107,899

Mobile app developer: $70,830

Full-stack software developer: $71,507

UX software developer: $108,449

AI software developer: $102,561

Python software developer: $89,706

Java software developer: $88,479

PHP software developer: $88,783

*Salaries sourced from Glassdoor May 2023

Learn software development and SDLC from experts

In IBM's Full Stack Software Developer Professional Certificate , you'll build job-ready skills and create professional projects for your portfolio. T he University of Minnesota's Software Development Lifecycle Specialization explores the different software engineering development processes according to four philosophies (traditional, secure, Agile, and lean). To solidify your learning, you'll be given case studies to make decisions based on each methodology and describe why you chose that process. No programming experience required—start learning today!



Software Development Lifecycle

Launch Your Career in Software Development. Master techniques and best practices for traditional and agile software project management.

(2,052 ratings)

48,258 already enrolled


Lean Software Development, Kanban, Agile Software Development, Software Development Process, Software Development Kit (SDK), Scrum (Software Development), Application Security, Software Architecture, Software Testing, Software Design, Software Quality

Article sources

Techopedia. “ What Does Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) Mean?, https://www.techopedia.com/definition/22193/software-development-life-cycle-sdlc" Accessed May 3, 2023.

Lightcast™ Analyst. "Occupation Summary for Software Developers." Accessed May 3, 2023.

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.

Develop career skills and credentials to stand out

Coursera Footer

Learn something new.

Popular Career Paths Articles

Popular Resume & Cover Letter Articles

Popular Interviewing Articles


We use essential cookies to make Venngage work. By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts.

Manage Cookies

Cookies and similar technologies collect certain information about how you’re using our website. Some of them are essential, and without them you wouldn’t be able to use Venngage. But others are optional, and you get to choose whether we use them or not.

Strictly Necessary Cookies

These cookies are always on, as they’re essential for making Venngage work, and making it safe. Without these cookies, services you’ve asked for can’t be provided.

Show cookie providers

Functionality Cookies

These cookies help us provide enhanced functionality and personalisation, and remember your settings. They may be set by us or by third party providers.

Performance Cookies

These cookies help us analyze how many people are using Venngage, where they come from and how they're using it. If you opt out of these cookies, we can’t get feedback to make Venngage better for you and all our users.

Targeting Cookies

These cookies are set by our advertising partners to track your activity and show you relevant Venngage ads on other sites as you browse the internet.

Blog Data Visualization

The 4 Project Life Cycle Phases (With Templates For Each Stage)

By Midori Nediger , Nov 29, 2019

project life cycle

To an outsider, it might seem like the project management process is easy…just talking to clients, scheduling meetings, assigning tasks, and reminding team members of deadlines.

But anyone who has managed a project will tell you it’s much more than that, which is why the project life cycle is so useful.

What is a Project Life Cycle?

The project life cycle is a 4-step framework designed to help project managers guide their projects successfully from start to finish. The purpose of the project life cycle is to create an easy to follow framework to guide projects.

What are the 4 stages of the project life cycle?

project life cycle


Understanding and planning for the 4 stages of the project life cycle can help you manage, organize, and plan so your project will go off without a hitch.

A project management life cycle will help:

But what does each stage of the cycle look like?

1. Project initiation stage: understand the goals, priorities, deadlines, and risks of the project

 The initiation stage of the project management life cycle is when you meet with clients and stakeholders to understand their goals, motivations, and hopes for the project.

During this stage the aim is to hash out the high-level goals that must be met for you to consider the project a success. There’s lots of research, discovery, and discussion, but very little detailed planning in this phase.

The key project management steps for the initiation stage include:

We’ve got a more detailed guide to writing a project management plan if you want more information. This covers project management basics along with all the elements that need to be included. You can also get PMP Certification to get specific training on how to do this.

I’ll go through the basics here.

project life cycle


Let’s take a look at what’s involved for each of these tasks.

Kick off the project management process by identifying project objectives and deliverables

Start by talking with your stakeholders or clients to get to know their needs. Try to tease out what’s important to them, what projects they’ve tried in the past, and what they hope to see in the future.

From there, you can move on to building out the concrete objectives and deliverables that your team will be responsible for, given the scope of the project and the available resources.

Be sure to document the takeaways from these initial meetings…you’ll want to have a record of the agreed-upon deliverables when it comes to the project closure stage.

project life cycle


Pro-tip: Set S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound) goals. For example: “In 3 months, increase blog conversion rates by 5%”.

Outline project risks, dependencies, constraints, and priorities

Once you’ve mapped out the high-level project goals, it’s time to explore all of the variables that might impact the progress of the project, including:

By identifying all of these variables early on you can nip a lot of potential problems in the bud, before they throw off your whole project timeline . 

A risk breakdown structure , like the one below, can aid in identifying and assessing all of the risks in your project. A risk breakdown structure is a hierarchical representation of risks, starting with the high-level risks and then breaking it down into more granular risks.  It can be an essential tool for project risk management . 

project life cycle


Establish project scope based on deadlines and available resources

With a handle on all of the variables at play, you can start breaking the project down into more actionable steps. Set boundaries on project scope based on your deadlines and the resources at your disposal, and think about what skill set your future team will need .

Mind maps and flowcharts can be helpful for organizing all of the moving parts to map out what’s reasonable based on project constraints.

project life cycle


Summarize the takeaways of the project initiation stage in a project proposal

All of the details that you establish during the initiation stage should be outlined in a project proposal, the only major deliverable for this initiation stage.

A project proposal is a report that details all of the goals, scope, requirements, budget, participants, and deadlines of a project.

project life cycle


Not to be confused with a project plan , which includes a much more in-depth description of how the project will be executed, a project proposal should be no longer than a few pages.

Depending on the complexity of a project, an action plan one-pager, like the one below, might suffice.

project life cycle


Check out our  job proposal templates ,  business proposal templates  and consulting proposal templates for more options.

Either way, when you’re a few months into the project, trying to prioritize the work of your team and make decisions that impact the direction of the project, you’ll thank yourself for creating clear documentation of these high-level project goals.

Create a professional looking project life cycle visualization

Make sure your project life cycle visualization sits within your company branding for a truly professional looking design. Venngage Business users can use the My Brand Kit  and see their company colors, logos, and fonts automatically applied to Venngage templates.

Business users can also invite feedback directly to their design with the Venngage comment feature. Learn more about My Brand Kit, Comment Mode, and more features of the Venngage Business account:

Find out more

2. Project planning stage: outline the tasks and timeline required to execute on the project

Once your project proposal has been approved, it’s time to move on to the project planning stage of the project life cycle.

The project planning stage is when you create a comprehensive project plan , which involves:

This project plan will be the source of truth for your team when any questions, conflicts, or issues arise throughout the project.

Let’s dig into the most important major deliverable of the project planning stage: the project roadmap.

Create a project roadmap with project tasks and milestones

Creating a project roadmap is one of the more important project management life cycle steps, crucial for organizing your team and keeping work on track. A project roadmap outlines all of the start and end dates of every major project task (plus any big milestones you’re working towards). 

Pro Tip: Use our roadmap maker to create professional, engaging roadmaps.

Gantt charts (like the one below) are a great tool for project roadmapping, because they can show the duration and timing of a number of dependent tasks. They’re perfect for planning and scheduling, and eventually monitoring progress throughout the execution stage of the project life cycle.

project life cycle


The best thing about using a Gantt chart for your project roadmap?

You can show a number of concurrent timelines on a single chart, which makes it easy to account for task dependencies.

For example, this Gantt chart template shows project tasks for multiple teams over the course of a few months:

project life cycle

The visual format of a Gantt chart makes visualizing and adjusting for dependencies much easier than a spreadsheet. And because it’s visual, it’s easy for you team to see, understand, and give feedback on their upcoming tasks.

project life cycle

Once your roadmap is in place, the last step of the planning stage is to assemble your team and hold a project kickoff, launching you into the next stage of the project life cycle: the execution stage.  

Check out this blog post for more Gantt chart templates .

3. project execution stage: turn your plan into action and monitor project performance.

The project execution stage is the true start of the project, when you carry out all of the tasks and activities you mapped out in the planning stage.

This is where the majority of the project work takes place, and it requires constant monitoring. Expect to adjust your goals and roadmap as you get deeper into the project.

As a project manager, your main responsibilities of the project execution stage are to:

Create status reports to communicate execution progress throughout the project management process

Although most of your time during the execution stage of the project management process will be spent monitoring and adjusting to keep the project on track, you’ll also need to keep stakeholders up to date with any changes to the project status.

Using a project status report template , like the one below, will help make sure you don’t leave out any pertinent details when you’re communicating with stakeholders.

For example, this status report includes an overview of project performance so far, plus up-to-date project milestones:

project life cycle


While this status report template is shorter, focused around an executive summary, but includes space for notes from every team representative:

project life cycle

KPIs and budget updates should also be included, if you have any.

4. Project closure stage: analyze results, summarize key learnings, and plan next steps

Once you’ve achieved your project goals and the results have been signed off on by your stakeholders, it’s time for the project closure stage.

In the project closure stage of the project management process, you:

A project retrospective is as much about reviewing the success of the project as it is about extracting learnings that can apply to future projects. Projects will never go without obstacles, and there will always be things to learn that will ease the progress of other projects.

There are many ways to run a project retrospective meeting , but you should try to identify your biggest wins and losses and come up with solutions. If you’re an external consultant, you might even ask your client for feedback .

Keep track of your notes somewhere that will be accessible by your whole team, like a shared spreadsheet (or send out an email after the meeting):

project life cycle

Another duty of a project manager in the project closure phase can be to analyze the performance of the team, based on the quality of their work and how well they were able to meet deadlines.

These performance reviews can be delivered to team members (or higher-ups) in the form of an easy to read visual summary, like the one below:

project life cycle

But remember…your project isn’t complete until all of your documents have been handed over and approved by your client or stakeholder.

Use Venngage to communicate your progress throughout the project life cycle

Any project manager worth their salt knows that clear communication is the backbone of any successful project. Venngage helps you make your communication visual , so that you can wow clients and keep your team aligned.


The Ultimate Guide to Understanding and Using a System Development Life Cycle

By Kate Eby | June 27, 2017

Link copied

There is a lot of literature on specific systems development life cycle (SDLC) methodologies, tools, and applications for successful system deployment. Not just limited to purely technical activities, SDLC involves process and procedure development, change management, identifying user experiences, policy/procedure development, user impact, and proper security procedures. Books such as David Avison and Guy Fitzgerald’s Information Systems Development and Alan Daniels and Don Yeates’ Basic Systems Analysis , delve into the intricacies of information systems development lifecycles.  This article will provide an in-depth analysis of the history, definition, phases, benefits, and disadvantages, along with solutions that support the system development life cycle.

What Is a System Development Life Cycle?

In order to understand the concept of system development life cycle, we must first define a system. A system is any information technology component - hardware, software, or a combination of the two. Each system goes through a development life cycle from initial planning through to disposition. Some methodologies provide the necessary framework to guide the challenging and complex process with an aim to avoid costly mistakes and expedite development, all of which have the same goal of moving physical or software-based systems through phases.

A system development life cycle is similar to a project life cycle. In fact, in many cases, SDLC is considered a phased project model that defines the organizational, personnel, policy, and budgeting constraints of a large scale systems project. The term “project” implies that there is a beginning and an end to the cycle and the methods inherent in a systems development life cycle strategy provide clear, distinct, and defined phases of work in the elements of planning, designing, testing, deploying, and maintaining information systems.

Those involved in the SDLC include the c-suite executives, but it is the project/program managers, software and systems engineers, users, and the development team who handle the multi-layered process. Each project has its own level of complexity in planning and execution, and often within an organization, project managers employ numerous SDLC methods. Even when an enterprise utilizes the same methods, different project tools and techniques can differ dramatically.

History and Origin of the System Development Lifecycle

Completely defined in 1971, the term originated in the 1960s when mainframe computers filled entire rooms and a pressing need developed to define processes and equipment centered on building large business systems. In those days, teams were small, centralized, and users were ‘less’ demanding. This type of scenario meant that there was not a true need for refined methodologies to drive the life cycle of system development. However, technology has evolved, systems have become increasingly complex, and users have become accustomed to well-functioning technology. Models and frameworks have been developed to guide companies through an organized system development life cycle. Today, the traditional approaches to technology system development have been adjusted to meet the ever-changing, complex needs of each unique organization and their users. Below you will find sequential steps to SDLC, but each company will vary in their process.

The Phases of SDLC

The SDLC framework provides a step-by-step guide through the phases of implementing both a physical and software based system. A variety of models are available, but whether utilizing the oldest method of SDLC, the waterfall method , adopting an Agile method , or employing a hybrid of several methods, all methods embrace a phased iterative structure that you can adapt to your organization’s needs.  You may find phases with varying naming conventions, but these are the most common stages of SDLC. Organizations may adopt any, all, or a variation of these phases:

Following each phase of a system development life cycle the team and project manager may establish a baseline or milestones in the process. The baseline may include start date, end date, phase/stage duration, and budget data. These baseline assists the project manager in monitoring performance.

System Development Lifecycle

There is an increased interest in system security at all levels of the life cycle, that include the elements of confidentiality, information availability, the integrity of the information, overall system protection, and risk mitigation . Aligning the development team and the security team is a best practice that ensures security measures are built into the various phases of the system development life cycle. For example, SAMM, the Software Assurance Maturity Model is a framework that aids organizations in evaluating their software security practices, building security programs, demonstrating security improvements, and measuring security-related activities. In addition, governance and regulations have found their way into technology, and stringent requirements for data integrity impact the team developing technology systems. Regulations impact organizations differently, but the most common are Sarbanes-Oxley, COBIT, and HIPAA.

Each company will have their own defined best practices for the various stages of development. For example, testing may involve a defined number of end users and use case scenarios in order to be deemed successful, and maintenance may include quarterly, mandatory system upgrades.

Benefits of a Well-Defined System Development Life Cycle

There are numerous benefits for deploying a system development life cycle that include the ability to pre-plan and analyze structured phases and goals. The goal-oriented processes of SDLC are not limited to a one-size-fits-all methodology and can be adapted to meet changing needs. However, if well-defined for your business, you can:

Disadvantages of a Structured System Development Life Cycle

In these same areas, there are some who find disadvantages when following a structured SDLC. Some of the downfalls include:

Another Form of SDLC: The Software Development Life Cycle

When the word “systems” is replaced with the word “software,” it creates another version of SDLC. The Software Development Life Cycle follows an international standard known as ISO 12207 2008. In this standard, phasing similar to the traditional systems development life cycle is outlined to include the acquisition of software, development of new software, operations, maintenance, and disposal of software products. An identified area of growing concern and increased adoption continues to revolve around the need for enhanced security functionality and data protection. Like systems development life cycle, discussed previously, there are numerous methods and frameworks that you can adopt for software development including:

Other models and methods include Synchronize and Stabilize, Dynamic Systems Development (DSDM), Big Bang Model, Fountain, and Evolutionary Prototyping Model, among others. Each has elements of a defined stepped process with variations to adapt for flexibility. Choosing the right SDLC method is critical for the success of your development project as well as for your business. There is not a hard and fast rule that you must choose only a single methodology for each project, but if you are to invest in a methodology and supporting tools, it is wise to utilize them as much as possible. To choose the right methodology you must first:

Project Managing the System Development Life Cycle

The iterative and phased stages of an SDLC benefit from the leadership of a dedicated project manager. The major goal of an SDLC is to provide cost effective and appropriate enhancements or changes to the information system that meet overall corporate goals. The project manager is responsible for executing and closing all the linear steps of planning, building, and maintaining the new or improved system throughout the process. 

Other elements for the project manager involve administration of human elements including communication, change management strategies, and training, initiating and driving the planning for the project, setting and monitoring goals, providing avenues for communication and training, and keeping track of budgets and timelines. The project manager is the overall control agent for a strong SDLC process.

Software Solutions That Support the System Development Life Cycle

SDLC products from software vendors promise organizational clarity, modern process development procedures, legacy application strategies, and improved security features. Many options provide customized or integrated solutions. Vendors such as Oracle, Airbrake, and Veracode provide software development solutions in their complete enterprise software offerings. Many of these vendors also have a strong focus on identifying and de-bugging systems that may support the process of testing in software development life cycles. In many cases, SDLC teams utilize a variety of software solutions to support the varying stages. For example, requirements may be gathered, tracked and managed in one solution while testing use cases may take place in a completely different solution. 

Regardless of the process implemented and the tools used, all require the crucial element of documentation to support findings, close iterative phases, and to analyze success. Today’s increasing demand for data and information security also factor into the overall planning, training, testing, and deployment of a system. However, one of the most important elements of success of any SDLC method continues to be in the initial planning, followed by choosing the appropriate framework and method, and finally sticking to, deploying, and maintaining a robust project plan.

Start Managing Your System Development Life Cycle with a Helpful Template

Project managers in charge of SDLC need the right tools to help manage the entire process, provide visibility to key stakeholders, and create a central repository for documentation created during each phase. One such tool is Smartsheet, a work management and automation platform that enables enterprises and teams to work better. 

With its customizable spreadsheet interface and powerful collaboration features, Smartsheet allows for streamlined project and process management. Use Smartsheet’s SDLC with Gantt template to get started quickly, and help manage the planning, development, testing, and deployment stages of system development. Create a timeline with milestones and dependencies to track progress, and set up automated alerts to notify you as anything changes. Share your plan with your team and key stakeholders to provide visibility, and assign tasks to individuals to ensure nothing slips through the cracks.

information technology project life cycle stages

Try the Smartsheet SDLC template for free, today.

Create Your SDLC Plan in Smartsheet

A Better Way to Manage System and Software Development Life Cycles

Empower your people to go above and beyond with a flexible platform designed to match the needs of your team — and adapt as those needs change. 

The Smartsheet platform makes it easy to plan, capture, manage, and report on work from anywhere, helping your team be more effective and get more done. Report on key metrics and get real-time visibility into work as it happens with roll-up reports, dashboards, and automated workflows built to keep your team connected and informed. 

When teams have clarity into the work getting done, there’s no telling how much more they can accomplish in the same amount of time.  Try Smartsheet for free, today.

Discover why over 90% of Fortune 100 companies trust Smartsheet to get work done.

information technology project life cycle stages

Business Insights

Harvard Business School Online's Business Insights Blog provides the career insights you need to achieve your goals and gain confidence in your business skills.

8 Steps in the Data Life Cycle

Business professional analyzing data as part of the data life cycle

Whether you manage data initiatives, work with data professionals, or are employed by an organization that regularly conducts data projects, a firm understanding of what the average data project looks like can prove highly beneficial to your career. This knowledge—paired with other data skills —is what many organizations look for when hiring.

No two data projects are identical; each brings its own challenges, opportunities, and potential solutions that impact its trajectory. Nearly all data projects, however, follow the same basic life cycle from start to finish. This life cycle can be split into eight common stages, steps, or phases:

Below is a walkthrough of the processes that are typically involved in each of them.

Access your free e-book today.

Data Life Cycle Stages

The data life cycle is often described as a cycle because the lessons learned and insights gleaned from one data project typically inform the next. In this way, the final step of the process feeds back into the first.

Data Life Cycle

1. Generation

For the data life cycle to begin, data must first be generated. Otherwise, the following steps can’t be initiated.

Data generation occurs regardless of whether you’re aware of it, especially in our increasingly online world. Some of this data is generated by your organization, some by your customers, and some by third parties you may or may not be aware of. Every sale, purchase, hire, communication, interaction— everything generates data. Given the proper attention, this data can often lead to powerful insights that allow you to better serve your customers and become more effective in your role.

Back to top

2. Collection

Not all of the data that’s generated every day is collected or used. It’s up to your data team to identify what information should be captured and the best means for doing so, and what data is unnecessary or irrelevant to the project at hand.

You can collect data in a variety of ways, including:

It’s important to note that many organizations take a broad approach to data collection, capturing as much data as possible from each interaction and storing it for potential use. While drawing from this supply is certainly an option, it’s always important to start by creating a plan to capture the data you know is critical to your project.

3. Processing

Once data has been collected, it must be processed . Data processing can refer to various activities, including:

Even the simple act of taking a printed form and digitizing it can be considered a form of data processing.

After data has been collected and processed, it must be stored for future use. This is most commonly achieved through the creation of databases or datasets. These datasets may then be stored in the cloud, on servers, or using another form of physical storage like a hard drive, CD, cassette, or floppy disk.

When determining how to best store data for your organization, it’s important to build in a certain level of redundancy to ensure that a copy of your data will be protected and accessible, even if the original source becomes corrupted or compromised.

5. Management

Data management , also called database management, involves organizing, storing, and retrieving data as necessary over the life of a data project. While referred to here as a “step,” it’s an ongoing process that takes place from the beginning through the end of a project. Data management includes everything from storage and encryption to implementing access logs and changelogs that track who has accessed data and what changes they may have made.

6. Analysis

Data analysis refers to processes that attempt to glean meaningful insights from raw data. Analysts and data scientists use different tools and strategies to conduct these analyses. Some of the more commonly used methods include statistical modeling, algorithms, artificial intelligence, data mining, and machine learning.

Exactly who performs an analysis depends on the specific challenge being addressed, as well as the size of your organization’s data team. Business analysts, data analysts, and data scientists can all play a role.

7. Visualization

Data visualization refers to the process of creating graphical representations of your information, typically through the use of one or more visualization tools . Visualizing data makes it easier to quickly communicate your analysis to a wider audience both inside and outside your organization. The form your visualization takes depends on the data you’re working with, as well as the story you want to communicate.

While technically not a required step for all data projects, data visualization has become an increasingly important part of the data life cycle.

8. Interpretation

Finally, the interpretation phase of the data life cycle provides the opportunity to make sense of your analysis and visualization. Beyond simply presenting the data, this is when you investigate it through the lens of your expertise and understanding. Your interpretation may not only include a description or explanation of what the data shows but, more importantly, what the implications may be.

Other Frameworks

The eight steps outlined above offer an effective framework for thinking about a data project’s life cycle. That being said, it isn’t the only way to think about data. Another commonly cited framework breaks the data life cycle into the following phases:

While this framework's phases use slightly different terms, they largely align with the steps outlined in this article.

A Beginner's Guide to Data and Analytics | Access Your Free E-Book | Download Now

The Importance of Understanding the Data Life Cycle

Even if you don’t directly work with your organization’s data team or projects, understanding the data life cycle can empower you to communicate more effectively with those who do. It can also provide insights that allow you to conceive of potential projects or initiatives.

The good news is that, unless you intend to transition into or start a career as a data analyst or data scientist, it’s highly unlikely you’ll need a degree in the field. Several faster and more affordable options for learning basic data skills exist, such as online courses.

Are you interested in improving your data science and analytical skills? Learn more about our online course Business Analytics , or download the Beginner’s Guide to Data & Analytics to learn how you can leverage the power of data for professional and organizational success.

information technology project life cycle stages

About the Author


In order to continue enjoying our site, we ask that you confirm your identity as a human. Thank you very much for your cooperation.

Technology Project Life Cycle

Technology Project Life Cycle

Learn about the 6 stages of the technology project life cycle.

All medium to large sized projects will go through some part of the technology project life cycle. Learn how an idea turns into a project by moving though the 6 stages. The stages include Idea, Analysis, Governance, Contract, Implementation and Operations & Maintenance. Within each of these stages there are many processes which must be completed before a project can move onto the next stage.

Quick Overview of the Technology Project Life Cycle

View detailed descriptions of each of these steps below.

Detailed Description of the Steps

IDEA All projects start as an idea.

Submit your idea

Overview Submitting an idea is the first stage of the project lifecycle. This stage is often triggered when a department, team, or individual identifies a project-worthy demand, need or opportunity. 

Once an idea is submitted IT Services will gather -- and facilitate the review of -- Ideas in an effort to best meet the College's IT Strategy. At any given time, dozens of Ideas might be given consideration in the form of research. All ideas submitted will be reviewed to determine if the idea is a standard request or if it meets the project criteria to become a project and go through the life cycle stages.

Timeline 5 minutes to fill out the project request form

Learn More What defines a technology project? View the criteria.   Submit Your Idea

Overview Stage two of the life cycle is where the proposed project will be defined. IT Services will ask many questions to determine if this idea will become a project. During this stage the size of the project wlll also be determined. The size defines resources needed and indicates if a governing committee needs to review.

There are several components to this stage which are: Information Gathering, Vendor Review and Selection, Project Proposal, Presentation preparation for the governing committees.

Timeline  1 week to 6 months + Depending on the size of the project this could take anywhere from 1 week to 6 months or more. Items that impact this timeline are meetings with vendors, vendor follow up, research between different departments on campus, reaching out to other schools, etc. 

Learn More TPPC Project Proposal  - An IT Services advocate will let you know when a project proposal is needed. Fill out only if your project will be presented to a governing committee

Overview Once a project proposal has been created the next step is to present the project to the Techology Planning and Policy Committees.  In some cases the project will need to be presented to the President's Cabinet . An ITS advocate will first help the project sponsor to prepare their proposal for committee review. Second, ITS will help the project sponsor to prepare to present at the governing committee.   If approved the project will be scheduled into the queue of the ITS Roadmap.

Governance Committees The Technology Planning and Policy Committee (TPPC) is comprised of one committee which is the Technology Advisory Committee (TAC) . The TAC oversees two subcommittees which are the Committee on Educational Technology (CET) and the Enterprise Technology Committee (ETC) . A project sponsor will present to either the CET or ETC. If the project proposal is approved it will then move to the TAC. If the TAC approves it will either be scheduled or in some cases the proposal may need to be presented to the President's Cabinet.

Technology Planning and Policy Committees (TPPC) TAC - CET - ETC

Flow of Governance A proposal is first presented at either the CET or ETC > if approved it will then be presented to the TAC > if approved it is then scheduled. If further review is needed it will then be presented to the President's Cabinet.  View the TPPC Governance Workflow (login required) . During presentations, the committee will review the project proposal using the  Intake and Governance Quantitative Assessment Criteria (login required) .

Timeline  The TAC meets only twice a year. It is important to know when the next TAC meeting is to plan accordingly. The ETC and CET meet at least twice a year and when needed. See the  Technology Intake, Governance, Planning and Policy Development Calendar (login required) .

Learn More View the TPPC Committees Overview and Committee Membership by Position   (login required) .

Overview Once the project has been approved by the governing bodies, the CAR form should be completed to facilitate the contract process.  Before submitting the CAR package to the Business Office, the agreement should be reviewed and signed off by the Chief Technology Officer as well as reviewed and approved by Legal Counsel.  Only the President or the Vice President for Finance and Administration have the authority to execute agreements on behalf of the College.

Timeline 2 weeks to 3 months + Contract review can take anywhere from two weeks to three months or longer.  The review process depends on many variables, including the language of the agreement when it is originally received and the negotiation terms that are vetted between the parties.  For more information about the Contract Process, visit the Contracts and Agreement Routing page on the Saint Mary's College website.


Overview Once all of the previous stages have been completed then it is time to execute the project. This is where "the (project) work gets done". This stage starts with a kick off meeting. During this meeting the owner of the project will present the timeline and assign roles and responsibilities to everyone involved in the project.

Timeline  3 weeks to 18 months The timeline for implementation all depends on the project and/or vendor. Before a contract is signed the client should have a good idea of how long the implementation will take. For larger projects it is not unusual for implementations to take longer than a year.


Overview Even after the implementation is complete the project will still continue in maintenance mode.  Remember when a solution involves a new application the owner of the project will continue to maintain the application on an ongoing basis. Over time the product will launch improvements and the owner needs to be on top of any upcoming changes. 

Note: If an existing product has significant updates that require IT Support please submit an idea to kick off the project review. Significant additions or changes to an existing tool could be catagorized as a new project and therefore would need to go through the technology intake and governance process.

Timeline  Ongoing (and forever, while the contract is still in place) In order to keep any application up and running there will continue to be ongoing maintenance and care that will be needed. Working with the tool doesn't stop once implementation is complete and the project has launched.

© 2023 Saint Mary’s College of California

What Is the Project Life Cycle?


There are many different types of projects, but interestingly, they all have one thing in common. They all go through the same cycle, known as the project life cycle, or project management life cycle.

The project life cycle is made up of five project stages: project initiation, project planning, project execution, monitoring & control and project closing. Each of these phases is necessary for the effective delivery of the project.

If you’re managing projects, you’ll need the right tools to make the process more effective and efficient. ProjectManager is online project management software that helps you control your project from initiation through closure. Choose between Gantt charts, kanban boards, project dashboards and more project management tools to plan, schedule and track your projects.

information technology project life cycle stages

The 5 Project Life Cycle Phases

Here’s a general description of the phases that make up the project life cycle and what can you do in each for successful project delivery. For example, you’ll need to produce important project documentation at each step in the process.

1. Project Initiation Phase

This is the start of the project for the project manager, who is responsible for defining the project at a high level. This usually begins with a business case , feasibility study, cost-benefit analysis and other types of research to determine whether the project is feasible and should or shouldn’t be undertaken. Stakeholders provide input. If the project is approved, then a project charter is created, which provides an overview of the project and sets up the stage for your project plan.

2. Project Planning Phase

This is where the project plan is created, and all involved in the project will follow it. This phase begins by setting SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely) goals. The scope of the project is defined and a project management plan is created, identifying cost, quality, resources and a timetable. Some of the features of this phase include a scope statement, setting of milestones, communication, risk management plans and a work breakdown structure.

ProjectManager's free work breakdown structure

3. Project Executing Phase

Now begins the part of the project that most people think of as the project: executing the tasks, deliverables and milestones defined in the project scope . Some tasks that make up this phase include developing the team and assigning resources using key performance indicators, executing the project plan, procurement management and tracking and monitoring progress. If needed, you can set status meetings and revise the schedule and plan.

4. Project Monitoring and Controlling Phase

The monitoring and controlling phase consists of setting up project controls and key performance metrics to measure the effectiveness of the project execution. The monitoring and controlling project phase is very important to make sure the execution goes as planned in terms of schedule , scope and budget baselines.

5. Project Closing Phase

It’s not over until the project closure phase it’s over. Completing the deliverables to the satisfaction of your stakeholders is key, of course, but the project manager must now disassemble the apparatus created to fulfill the project. That means closing out work with contractors, making sure everyone has been paid and ensuring that all project documents are signed off on and archived to help with planning future projects. Once this has been done, the project manager often has a post-mortem with the project team to highlight what worked and what didn’t work, so that successes can be repeated and mistakes avoided.

Understanding the Project Management Life Cycle

Jennifer Bridges, PMP, is our resident project management expert. She hosts hundreds of our training videos, including this one explaining the project management life cycle.

Project Management Templates Can Help Manage the Project Life Cycle

We have created dozens of project management templates to help project managers manage each phase of the project life cycle. Here are some of them.

Project Charter Template

The project charter is the main outcome of the project initiation phase. Our free project charter template is a great place to start building your project and get it approved by stakeholders.

Project Plan Template

A project plan is a thorough project management document that guides the project execution. Our free project plan template is fully customizable, so you can include what matters most to your project.

Project Budget Template

Our free project budget template is a great starting point to gather your project tasks, estimate their costs and create a basic project budget. However, if you truly want to use advanced project management features and have full control over your project portfolio, you should try ProjectManager.

ProjectManager Helps Manage the Project Life Cycle

ProjectManager is a robust project management software that offers multiple project views and features for each step of the project management life cycle. Here are some of its key project management tools.

Plan, Schedule and Track with Gantt Charts

Our online Gantt chart helps you plan the project, collecting your task list into a timeline. The duration for each task can then be set and each task assigned to a team member. Collaboration happens at the task level on the Gantt chart, where team members can comment and add relevant documents and images. They can even tag those not assigned to the task and they’ll be notified by email.

ProjectManager's Gantt chart

Multiple Project Management Tools

The Gantt chart is just one of ProjectManager’s project management views. You can also use kanban boards , dashboards, workload charts, timesheets and other tools. Use kanban boards to visualize the workflow, where cards represent the tasks, keeping team members focused on what they’re working on and project managers get a bird’s eye view. Resources can be reallocated and important dates, such as holidays and vacation days, are marked to know who can work when.

Workload chart in ProjectManager

Create Project Reports in Minutes

One-click reporting gives project managers the data to present to stakeholders on various aspects of the project. These reports can be filtered to show the information you want and allow for deeper dives as necessary. The real-time dashboard shows project metrics in colorful and easy-to-read graphs and charts, giving you the most accurate picture of your project’s progress.

Dashboard in ProjectManager

Related Content

ProjectManager is an award-winning project management solution that assists you in all aspects of project management. Online planning tools and web-based task management features let you collaborate on the go and make adjustments. Then, create comprehensive reports from the data with only a few clicks. Try it for yourself by taking this free 30-day trial today.

Related Posts

Click here to browse ProjectManager's free templates

Deliver your projects on time and under budget

Start planning your projects.

What is SDLC? Software Development Life Cycle Phases, Methodologies, and Processes Explained

James Taylor, who authored Managing Information Technology Projects , noted that a “project life cycle encompasses all the activities of a project." And the goal of systems development is the realization of the product requirements.

If you want to learn how to build, deploy, and create high quality software you will want to follow a blueprint.

As Taylor articulated, your goal should be to think holistically about all the activities of a project and how to best manage each stage.

But where should you start?

One answer is to leverage a framework to guide your behavior and work-flows.

One particularly powerful and popular framework is called the Software Development Life Cycle process (SDLC).

In this article I will walk you through the following:

How SDLC Works and Why it is Used

SDLC consists of six steps which I have diagrammed here for your reference.


In totality, SDLC is a closed loop. This means that each step influences actions that come after it and each stage provides forward looking guidance.

The six phases seek to build on each other in an efficient manner to answer questions and to ensure alignment in your development process.

I seek to take the abstract and provide examples that you, as students and practitioners of software development, can more readily relate to.

For example, if you strive to build software designed for hourly employees, as Zoomshift has done, or time tracking software, you would start at the “requirement analysis” stage.

Here, at this most foundational level, you would figure out what the requirements of workers are when it comes to tracking hours and labor.

You might do this by speaking with hourly employees. Perhaps you would engage in a conversation with managers who lead hourly worker teams.

Another idea is that you could test solutions on the market to better understand the pitfalls of existing software.

You could take notes, sketch diagrams, or build graphs to more deeply understand qualitative and quantitative feedback.

Only after deeply understanding these pain points will you be ready to go to the next phase of SDLC.

Only then can you start the planning phase.

The requirements analysis phase may be tedious.

But by going through these steps you can reduce your time to market, ensure a better product output, save money, and increase the likelihood of product market fit.

Think beyond time tracking.

Think about what you want to build and where your technology passions are.

Figure out the requirements to solve problems in that domain. This is where you start.

Stages of SDLC and Best Practices and Methodologies

Each step must be completed before proceeding to the next phase in the development journey.

Most importantly, the first three steps seek to generate answers to questions and the last three steps are optimized to provide outputs.

These six phases map to behavior you might already be implementing when scoping, building, testing, and releasing software. But SDLC makes the work-flow standardized and formal.

This is to your benefit: by following specific steps you can easily communicate where you are in the process, and inform others of where you are headed.

Let’s dive deeper into each stage and explain the probing questions and outcomes you will want to optimize for.

Phase #1: Requirements Analysis

This stage of the SDLC forces you to obtain feedback and buy-in from relevant internal and external stakeholders.

Think about my prior examples with time tracking software development. You will need to think broadly about who your “users” are.

Some ideas include your clients, designers, your boss, or other technical representatives on the team.

Ultimately you are looking to answer this question: what problems need to be solved? I find it helpful in phase one to take notes and to actively listen.

When you feel highly comfortable with your answers you can advance to the next phase.

Phase #2: Planning

You are seeking to answer this question: what do we want to do? This question might inspire you to understand the unit economics of your plan (costs and benefits), risk mitigation factors, and expected values.

Much like planning for a vacation, you need to get your possessions organized and think about what bags to pack.

Here is a relevant example.

I have read extensively about the history of Instagram. A tremendous amount of time was spent on the planning phase of the app’s development. This was just at the time social media was rapidly expanding.

How users would interact with the product was still very much unknown.

The founders knew that if the foundational experience was strong (taking, editing, and sharing photographs) then growth, success, and high conversion would follow. This is what they planned for.

The founders spent time on application and website design knowing that if they planned correctly the actual architecting and design stage would be smoother.

They were always looking one step ahead and thinking about the future of social sharing and e-commerce shopping.

Plan for what you can control and be mindful of things you can’t plan for. This will help you have a solid foundation heading into phase three.

Phase #3: Architectural/software design

By this stage you know what your requirements are and what you want.

You are on solid ground to now answer the following question before you start writing software: how do we reach our goal? In short, you need to decide what you are optimizing for and design for that.

Perhaps you are building software that you want to be secure, high-performing, resilient, and efficient. Which of those principles is most important to you and why?

Do the stakeholders from the first phase agree? Ensure that stakeholders are fully aligned.

After the design phase you will start putting “hands on keyboards” and making changes will become more costly in terms of time and money spent. Small variable costs will add up.

There are a few pillars of design that I advise you to consider during this phase: operational excellence, security, reliability, performance efficiency, and cost optimization.

Use these buckets to drive final design decisions.

Phase #4: Software Development

This is the build phase in which you seek not to answer questions but to produce outputs.

Specifically you are looking to show a bias towards action and develop a prototype or system that others can experience.

When you start building, it's critical you follow the first three phases so that your output aligns with expectations.

Get your computer out, make sure your environment is conducive to work, grab a coffee and mug warmer, and turn on your monitor.

In this phase you get to earn the trust of your stakeholders by embodying a builder's mindset.

Phase #5: Testing

I used to see co-workers wear t-shirts that said the following: “Building rocks, testing not so much.”

You can’t produce a final version of a product without eating your own “dog food”.

At the completion of this phase you are able to ensure that what you have built works. Look for bugs or defects. Get second opinions.

Probe deeply to find errors that will slow down the release of your final product. Ensure strong fundamentals.

Phase #6: Deployment

Go take your solution and use it. Launch. Go Live.

Get the stakeholders from phase one to use your software in the wild. Celebrate. Start measuring sales engagement.

Listen to users and iterate because through user feedback surveys and guidance you can start again at phase one scoping new requirements.

Bringing It All Together: The SDLC Approach

SDLC exists to help you reduce your time to market, ensure a better product output, save money, and increase the likelihood that what you build is useful to the stakeholders that you care about.

SDLC is particularly helpful in the world of software development because it forces you to “color within the lines.”

In other words, SDLC will force you to follow steps and to ensure you are doing the right actions at the right time and for the right reasons.

Think of SDLC as a blueprint for success. Following it blindly doesn’t ensure anything - but it increases the likelihood that you will be satisfied with the results.

Software development - as we all know - is a broad domain and can cover website design tools and online forms to more robust machine learning or backend systems.

Whether or not you are coding in the browser or doing more robust development work, you need a plan of action.

Building software can be hard.

It can also be rewarding. SDLC is a guide for technical work, but more broadly it can be thought of as a guide in life.

You can deploy SDLC to many domains.

For example, SaaS content writing follows the SDLC cycle. Before writing content the author must first define the requirements, plan what will be written, and then actually put pen to paper.

SDLC is a great framework for technology entrepreneurs as well.

My friend wanted to start the a company and reached out to me and others for guidance. I advised him to use SDLC to first perform a requirements analysis even though his ambitions were quite large.

I asked him: what problems are you looking to solve? What do your users want? And lastly, how would this platform help you achieve these goals?

By framing these questions around SDLC he was better able to hone in on his ultimate solution and to build the right tools for the right users.

He narrowed his scope and more tightly defined his problem space. He was able to allocate resources to the planning phase before he started to do anything else.

He went on to build arguably the best Instagram growth service that I am aware of. But his field is constantly evolving.

Now software exists to perform the role of a social media scheduler at scale. Eventually he will need to go back to the basics: requirements analysis.

The adoption of his technology is proof that SDLC, when applied and executed correctly, can lead to profound technological and business outcomes. But as with the development of a business, software is never done.

Hence the cycle continues.

Regardless of what you are building - a company, a tool, a complex program, or an entirely new product - you would be wise to deploy SDLC to ensure quality and to help you maintain focus on your customers while you build.

“Building rocks” should be your North Star.

SDLC is a tool that will help guide you along the way.

Writing articles to share his experiences and his views on Financial Technology. Opinions are his own and not the views of his employer.

If this article was helpful, tweet it .

Learn to code for free. freeCodeCamp's open source curriculum has helped more than 40,000 people get jobs as developers. Get started

Captcha Page

We apologize for the inconvenience...

To ensure we keep this website safe, please can you confirm you are a human by ticking the box below.

If you are unable to complete the above request please contact us using the below link, providing a screenshot of your experience.


Please solve this CAPTCHA to request unblock to the website

Information Management Simplified

What is Information Lifecycle Management (ILM)?

Photo of author

Disclosure:  Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links, which can provide compensation to me at no cost to you if you decide to purchase a paid plan. These are products I’ve personally used and stand behind. You can read our affiliate disclosure in our  privacy policy .


Information lifecycle management (ILM) is the process of managing information from its creation to its final disposition. A company’s ILM strategy can be a key factor in determining how well it manages risk .

Information lifecycle management refers to the stages that information must go through and be managed during its lifespan. It consists of five major phases: creation, storage, processing, distribution, and disposition. Each phase plays a critical role for effective information management.

Effective information lifecycle management will help organizations in reducing security, compliance, and legal risks while also lowering operational and storage costs, increasing employee productivity, and making better business decisions.

Information management lifecycle

It is important that companies have an information lifecycle management strategy that includes a plan for managing what it does with information after it has been collected and used. This can help to reduce the risk of theft, misuse, or inappropriate disclosure.

In order to create an effective ILM strategy, companies should first identify the challenges associated with their information and then develop policies and procedures for handling them.

What is the purpose of information lifecycle management?

The goal of information lifecycle management is to optimize the value of information, minimize costs and risks, and ensure compliance with legal and regulatory requirements. It is an essential part of any information management strategy that organizations should adapt across their departments.

ILM is an essential part of digital transformation. It can be used in various scenarios, such as information governance, compliance management, risk mitigation, and information protection.

What are the 5 stages of information life cycle?

The 5 stages of information lifecycle include creation, storage, processing, disposition, and archival. Effectively managing these phases will help organizations get the most out of their most important asset. This cycle describes the process of how information is created, shared, and stored throughout its lifecycle.

1- Acquisition and creation

The first stage of the information lifecycle is creation. This is the stage at which information is created and produced by a company or individuals. As an organization, you must identify all of the information sources from which you will receive or generate information.

This will allow you to identify the types of information to process as well as provide insight into how the information will flow throughout the lifecycle.

Organizations must ensure that the collected information is of high quality in order for it to be processed and analyzed for better decision making.

2- Storage and maintenance

The second stage of the information lifecycle is storage and maintenance. It is critical for organizations to clearly define where their information will be stored, define backup schedules, maintain the information, and secure it in appropriate ways.

In this digital age, most businesses use the cloud to store their information, ensuring that it is secure and accessible when needed. Some organizations, on the other hand, prefer to host their information centrally on their premises in order to control and secure the information as needed.

The benefit of using the cloud is that you can outsource backup plans, server maintenance, and information availability to a provider, lowering costs and allowing your employees to focus on more important tasks.

3- Processing and use

The third stage in the information lifecycle is Usage, during this stage the information is received, organized, and evaluated. For example, if you are a business that will be processing CRM in order to make decisions on how to grow your business, you need to understand how your CRM information will be received and what type of processing will occur.

Organizations must also understand how information is shared among employees/departments and with external entities in order to provide the best possible service while ensuring information safety and protection.

Always remember Information is only valuable if it can reach the right audience at the right time.

4- Disposition

The fourth stage of an organization’s information life cycle involves the disposal or retention of information . When does the organization want to either maintain or discard the information?

Depending on the type of information, a retention schedule will be established in order to comply with various rules and regulations imposed by governments or industries.

This is one of the most important steps in information lifecycle management because failing to dispose of sensitive information on time will almost certainly result in fines and penalties for noncompliance with various rules and regulations.

Check below some of the 25 biggest GDPR fines in Europe

25 Biggest GDPR Fines To-Date | Latest GDPR Fines | Updated 2022 | Tessian

5- Archival

Archival is the final stage of the information lifecycle. In this step, organizations must clearly define how information will be archived and what hardware will be used.

This is a critical step that takes more time than organizations anticipate. Because of technological advancements, businesses must carefully consider the format of information and the technologies to be used in order to preserve the information for as long as it is necessary for business operations.

The Challenges of an Effective Information Lifecycle

The information lifecycle, or the process of managing information in a business, is a complicated process. It can be challenging to keep track of the different steps involved in the lifecycle but with the help of best practices for IM , organizations can overcome them.

The key to an effective information lifecycle is a holistic approach that manages all aspects of it.

The challenges are:

Why is information life cycle important?

Information lifecycle management is important to organizations because it helps ensure that information is managed effectively throughout its entire lifecycle, from creation to disposal. ILM can help organizations improve efficiency, reduce costs, and improve security.

In a report, Deloitte claims that implementing Information lifecycle management within an organization can save costs by $3M.

Information lifecycle management benefits include:

1- Reduced risks

Reducing information risks is considered among the top information lifecycle management benefits.

When information is properly managed, your organization should be able to comply with various rules and regulations, lowering the risk of fines and penalties that could cost your company a fortune.

Furthermore, by preserving and serving only high-quality information to employees and managers, you improve the decision-making process, lowering the risks of making uninformed business decisions.

2- Cost savings

Quick information retrieval, backups, and storage are among the top information lifecycle management benefits as it can help your organization save money that it can use to improve services or introduce new products.

Did you know that 30 percent of employees’ time is spent looking for information? Employees will be able to use saved searching for more important tasks if the proper information management strategy is implemented.

IM can help you reduce storage costs by moving information to less expensive storage options as it ages..

3- Improved security

By understanding where your information resides and how it is being used, you can better protect it from unauthorized access and misuse.

4- More effective governance

ILM may add managerial consistency and controls that benefit the organization. ILM can provide the extra benefit of enhanced information management for the entire organization.

ILM can help you better comply with regulations by ensuring that information is properly managed throughout its lifecycle.

5- Improved performance

ILM can help you improve IM system performance by moving information to faster storage options as it becomes more active.

6- Increased agility

Increasing agility is considered one of the top information lifecycle management benefits as it can help you respond more quickly to changing business needs by making it easier to access and use the right information at the right time.

10 Effective File Management Tips You Need To Know

10 Incredible Information Management Trends in 2022

Leave a Reply Cancel reply

Top articles, reach out to us for sponsorship opportunities.

Let us know if you want your product or service to be featured on this blog.

© 2023 The ECM Consultant, Barbour street,

Al Arz building, ground floor, Beirut, Lebanon

Experience seamless collaboration and file management with Zoho WorkDrive. Try it now at the link below!

Zoho File Management

Claim Your Free Copy


  1. Information Technology 1 Archives

    information technology project life cycle stages

  2. Services

    information technology project life cycle stages

  3. Phases of the technology life cycle and possible monitoring and

    information technology project life cycle stages

  4. PMO Project Phases; click to enlarge

    information technology project life cycle stages

  5. IT Project. Projects Life Cycles. (Unit 17)

    information technology project life cycle stages

  6. The Four Stages of a Typical Information Technology Project Showing the

    information technology project life cycle stages


  1. Topic 7 Science, Technology and Environment


  3. #0045

  4. Technology Environment and Society chapter 1 part 2

  5. ITPM

  6. Introduce yourself as a Software tester


  1. 4 Phases of the Project Management Lifecycle Explained

    This project management process generally includes four phases: initiating, planning, executing, and closing. Some may also include a fifth "monitoring and controlling" phase between the executing and closing stages. By following each step, a project team increases the chance of achieving its goals.

  2. What Is the Software Development Life Cycle? SDLC Explained

    There are seven stages in the SDLC and six common models that are used for different projects. In this guide, we'll go through each stage and model to give you an overview of what becoming a software developer entails. What is the software development life cycle (SDLC)?

  3. The 4 Project Life Cycle Phases (With Templates For Each Stage)

    Blog Data Visualization The 4 Project Life Cycle Phases (With Templates For Each Stage) By Midori Nediger, Nov 29, 2019 To an outsider, it might seem like the project management process is easy…just talking to clients, scheduling meetings, assigning tasks, and reminding team members of deadlines.

  4. What is the IT Project Life Cycle?

    Planning Delivery Closeout Some project team members will be involved at every stage, while others will be involved more sporadically. Project managers make sure every phase involves the right people and tools. Identifying these key roles is a crucial component of successful IT projects and a process that can take a significant amount of time.

  5. Ultimate Guide to System Development Life Cycle

    The term "project" implies that there is a beginning and an end to the cycle and the methods inherent in a systems development life cycle strategy provide clear, distinct, and defined phases of work in the elements of planning, designing, testing, deploying, and maintaining information systems.

  6. What Is The Project Life Cycle: 5 Phases & Why It's Still Important

    1. Project Initiation Phase: Defining What Needs To Be Done Initiating the first phase of the project life cycle is all about doing a project kickoff with your team and with the client, and getting their commitment to start the project.

  7. Portfolio and Project Management IT Project Lifecycle

    Lifecycle | Phase One: Initiation | Phase Two: Planning | Phase Three: Delivery | Phase Four: Closeout Portfolio and Project Management IT Project Lifecycle The Project Management Framework, initially deployed in 2010, was most recently updated in February 2022. For further questions, please contact [email protected].

  8. 8 Steps in the Data Life Cycle

    This life cycle can be split into eight common stages, steps, or phases: Generation Collection Processing Storage Management Analysis Visualization Interpretation Below is a walkthrough of the processes that are typically involved in each of them. Free E-Book: A Beginner's Guide to Data & Analytics Access your free e-book today. DOWNLOAD NOW

  9. Phases of the IT Project Life Cycle

    The lifecycle of information technology (IT) project management is composed of six phases. Examine the details in each phase: requirements and analysis, architecture, design, construction,...

  10. IT Project Life Cycle

    According to the Project Management Institute, the six phases of the IT project life cycle are: Requirements and analysis Architecture Design Construction Integration and test...

  11. 7 Phases of the System Development Life Cycle (With Tips)

    7 phases of system development. When managing or operating within a system development life cycle, it's beneficial to know the phases involved. Some companies or teams may modify this structure to combine one or more phases, but a common structure for a system development life cycle includes: 1. Planning.

  12. Technology Project Life Cycle

    The stages include Idea, Analysis, Governance, Contract, Implementation and Operations & Maintenance. Within each of these stages there are many processes which must be completed before a project can move onto the next stage. Quick Overview of the Technology Project Life Cycle View detailed descriptions of each of these steps below.

  13. IT Projects

    IT Project Lifecycle On this page 1. Pre-Project (Request) 2. Pre-Project (Selection) 3. Initiating Stage 4. Planning Stage 5. Executing Stage 6. Closing Stage 7. Monitor and Control Stage

  14. What Is SDLC? Understand the Software Development Life Cycle

    The Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) refers to a methodology with clearly defined processes for creating high-quality software. in detail, the SDLC methodology focuses on the following phases of software development: Requirement analysis. Planning. Software design such as architectural design.

  15. Systems development life cycle

    In systems engineering, information systems and software engineering, the systems development life cycle (SDLC), also referred to as the application development life cycle, is a process for planning, creating, testing, and deploying an information system. The SDLC concept applies to a range of hardware and software configurations, as a system can be composed of hardware only, software only, or ...

  16. What Is the Project Life Cycle?

    The project life cycle is made up of five project stages: project initiation, project planning, project execution, monitoring & control and project closing. Each of these phases is necessary for the effective delivery of the project. If you're managing projects, you'll need the right tools to make the process more effective and efficient.

  17. What is SDLC? Software Development Life Cycle Phases, Methodologies

    James Taylor, who authored Managing Information Technology Projects, noted that a "project life cycle encompasses all the activities of a project."And the goal of systems development is the realization of the product requirements. If you want to learn how to build, deploy, and create high quality software you will want to follow a blueprint.

  18. Project Life Cycle

    The project life cycle is a 5-step framework designed to help the PMO team guide IT projects successfully from start to finish. ... B.S. Information Technology; M.S. Computer Science; M.S. Cybersecurity; News & Events ... This is considered to be the last process of the project activity cycle. In this stage, the project is formally closed and ...

  19. Information technology application in the construction project life cycle

    It is important to determine the main factors influencing on the process of decision-making, and the parameters of the formation of input and output data for modelling each stage of the life cycle of the object, as well as technical and economic indicators of the information model by stages.

  20. What is Information Lifecycle Management (ILM)?

    The 5 stages of information lifecycle include creation, storage, processing, disposition, and archival. Effectively managing these phases will help organizations get the most out of their most important asset. This cycle describes the process of how information is created, shared, and stored throughout its lifecycle. 1- Acquisition and creation