What You Need to Know About Database Development Life Cycle

by Thanh Pham | Aug 09, 2020 What You Need to Know About Database Development Life Cycle

Simply put, a database is a software product used for managing data in a secure and organized digital format. In a world that runs on data, having an effective and efficient database is critical for the success of your business. The process of designing and implementing a database management system is referred to as database management life cycle. Before you invest in setting a database, you should have a proper understanding of each phase including how to outsource software product development. Further, it would be best if you understood how the phases align with your business objectives. 

The cycle contains 6 phases. These include:

Initial study – planning and strategizing

The planning phase is perhaps the most important as it sets the stage for all the following phases and the overall design and functionality of your database. At this stage, the designer will examine the current system, looking out for the weaknesses that will inform the objective and the scope of the database design.

While analyzing the company situation, the objectives, organization structure, and how key operational components in the company interact with each other are considered. Thereon, the designer defines the problems within the scope of the company’s operations. The problem identified then informs the objectives and the scope and boundaries for the system to be developed. The scope will help inform the data structures required, the size of the database and the entities to be included, among others. Further, the scope will inform the software and hardware components needed for the database.

Database Design

Here, the focus is on designing a database model that is informed by the analysis in the initial phase. The design should be in sync with the objectives of the company and should also solve the problems identified. The designer should pay keen attention in this phase to ensure the design meets the client’s requirements and, most importantly, the design addresses the needs of the users.

Design implementation

The third phase involves implementing the design specification of the database. These include the attributes, views, tables, indexes, domains, performance guidelines, security features and storage. Some key steps here include:

  •  Installing the Database Management System: The installation may be done on a new or existing server.
  • Creation of the database.
  • Data conversion/loading: Once the database has been created, the next step of loading data into the database. If you were working with a previously installed server, the data could be easily migrated into the new system. If the system is new, you will need to import the data from the other databases, legacy systems, flat files or manually, depending on the system that was in place before.

Testing and evaluation of the effectiveness of the design

When you get to this stage, you have a fully functioning database that addresses the objectives of your database management and conforms with the design in phase two. During implementation, security, performance, recoverability and the coherence of the key components of the database were brought together. To evaluate how effectively they function and whether they address the set objectives, testing and evaluation is necessary and this happens at this stage.

The testing serves to help fine-tune the database to ensure its performance is as expected. Also, this stage is crucial in identifying the gaps and weaknesses in the database and how to bypass them. Some of the key elements to focus on in this phase include:


How effective is the database? How fast is the system? Ideally, a database management system should improve the processes and speed of processing data.

 Ease of use

Get some users to test the system’s performance and friendliness. Getting their insights and perspectives is important for identifying the weaknesses in the design and also suggested improvements to be included in the overall design of the database management system.


Test the effectiveness of the security features in the system. Data protection should be at the core of the system’s design. Ensure that the primary and foreign key commands for protecting data integrity in the database management system are functional. Some focus areas include access rights, password security, data encryption and physical security checks, among others.

Holistic evaluation of the database and application components

After evaluating the individual components, also have a look at how they all function together. Ensure that all the components interact seamlessly and conveniently. Additionally, test the data backup and data recovery systems for assured protection in case of a security breach or accidental data loss.


After addressing all the issues that emerge during the evaluation stage, the next stage is putting the system into full use. Ideally, any weaknesses in the system should have been addressed and the system should be working smoothly. However, errors and technical issues may arise and that is where the next stage of the development cycle comes in.


The job of a developer is not done after implementing the database.  They should be available to handle any technical issues that may arise post-implementation. Some of the key maintenance services they should be able to provide include:

  •  Corrective maintenance in the event of a technical challenge.
  • Preventive maintenance is in the form of system evaluation, data backup and updates on the system.
  • Adaptive maintenance aims to enhance performance and add new features for improved functionality and for adjusting access permissions if necessary.


The success of your database development project is predicated on how effectively you can follow this cycle. Every stage is important. As a developer, you should invest in understanding all the elements at each stage and strive towards following the processes keenly through your projects.

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