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Software Development Life Cycle Model (SDLC)

As IT has evolved and become more complex, so the software development life cycle model (SDLC) has had to similarly evolve to cope. This has led to a number of different models being created which can be implemented in different ways depending on which software model is being followed. This is turn is usually determined based upon what type of software is being developed.

So for example a product which will require frequent alterations during development cannot follow the same process software development as one which is well defined from the outset. One requires a huge level of flexibility in the process, whilst the other needs a defined structure instead.

So what software development life cycle models are there?

Well there are numerous types such as fountain, build and fix, rapid prototyping, spiral, incremental and sunchronize and stablize. However the main schools of development are agile, iterative and sequential.

Agile

This is really the buzzword used now in project management. It's almost as if agile is a magic pill which will miraculously ensure quality code is developed and delivered on time and to project management requirements!

Needless to say, agile focusses on relatively simple processes which allows for fast changes to be made during the software development life cycle. The best known methodologies in this are include SCRUM and Extreme Programming (XP).

Essentially Agile uses feedback from people rather than planning as the primary control mechanism. This is then utilised as a result of breaking the work down into small pieces of work which can be tested and refined with user input.

Iterative

This works when the project has a limited scope, as it can then be expanded or improved by multiple iterations. In plain english, this means the project stakeholders don't have a clear idea of how they want the end product to "look". The development team build what little functionality is clear and then add to it. Project stakeholders then have the opportunity to refine the product during development as it goes through this software development life cycle model.

Iterative methodologies include Rational Unified Process (RUP) and Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM).

Sequential

These operate by designing the entire development up-front by planning everything from the start. The obvious project risks here is that project management requirements change as so the desires of project stakeholders. When this happens, making changes in a sequential development are virtually impossible.

Examples of sequential methodologies are Waterfall which is the best known.

Software Development Life Cycle Model (SDLC) - Tip

The software development life cycle model which is used will have a major affect on the way the business requirements documentation and project scope statement are written as well as how the project is managed.

All these models have their pros and cons. You need to work out which makes the most sense for you, your team and the end deliverable.

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