Term Paper: System Development Life Cycle (SDLC)

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[. . .] The end result is that implementation of the SDLC model can be a long, painstaking process that fails to provide a working version of the system until late in the process. Thus, such criticisms led to alternative SDLC processes that offered faster results, require less up-front information, and offer greater flexibility.

Prototyping Model

One such model is that which is known as the Prototyping model. According to the CTG (1998), the Prototyping model was developed as a means to compensate for some of the problems identified as associated with other SDLC modesl. The Prototyping model is based on the assumption that it is often difficult to know all of IS requirements during the beginning phases of a project. Through the application of the Prototyping model in ISD, the developer builds a framework of the proposed system and presents it to the customer for consideration as part of the development process. The customer in turn provides feedback to the developer, who goes back to refine the prototype to incorporate the additional information. This collaborative process continues until the prototype is developed into a system that can be implemented. As reported by the CTG, the Prototyping model is probably the most imitated ISD. Variations of the model include: Rapid Application Development (RAD) and Joint Application Development (JAD). Figure 2 provides a visual depiction of the prototyping model.

Figure 2: Prototyping Model

Hughes, 2002

According to the CTG (1998), overall criticisms of the Prototyping model have generally fallen into the following categories:

False expectations: Prototyping often creates a situation where the customer mistakenly believes that the system is "finished" when in fact it is not.

Poorly designed systems: Because the primary goal of Prototyping is rapid development, the design of the system can sometimes suffer because the system is built in a series of "layers" without a global consideration of the integration of all other components. Attempting to retroactively produce a solid system design can sometimes be problematic.

The Exploratory Model

The Exploratory Model represents an effort to move further away from an IS development framework in which requirements are not necessary in development and implementation activities. According to the CTG (1998), the Exploratory model is most often used in fields such as astronomy or artificial intelligence because much of the research in these areas is based on guess-work, estimation, and hypothesis. The steps in the Exploratory Model involve initial specification development, system construction modification, system test and system implementation when modifications and testing are indicative of a finished product. As explained by the CTG, criticisms of the Exploratory model include that it is very much limited to use very high-level languages, such as LISP; cost effectiveness is difficult to measure or predict; and the final product is often inefficient.

Spiral Model

As indicated by the CTG (1998), the Spiral model represents an incorporation of the best features of the SDLC and Prototyping models, while introducing a new component risk-assessment. The term "spiral" is used to describe the process that is followed as the development of the system takes place. Similar to the Prototyping model, an initial version of the system is developed, and then repetitively modified based on input received from customer evaluations. However, within the Spiral model, the development of each version of the system is carefully designed using the steps involved in the SDLC model. Each version of the development system is evaluated to assess associated risk and to determine if the ISD process should continue. The steps implemented within the Spiral model include planning; risk assessment; engineering; and, customer evaluation. Figure 3 provides a visual depiction of the spiral model.

Figure 3: Spiral Model

Hughes (2002)

According to the CTG (1998), few criticisms have as of yet been directed at the Spiral model due to its relative newness. There has been an indication that the risk assessment component of the Spiral model provides both developers and customers with a measuring tool that earlier model do not have.

FAST Methodology

FAST is a modern system development life cycle methodology. In the application of FAST methodology, activities are assigned to different personnel. While a single person may assume several roles, a single role may require several people to accomplish it (Whitten & Bentley, 1998).

As explained by Whitten and Bentley (1998), the FAST methodology consists of eight phases:

The Survey Phase establishes the project context, scope, budget, staffing, and schedule.

The Study Phase identifies and analyzes both the business and technical problem domains for specific problems, causes, and effects.

The Definition Phase identifies and analyzes business requirements that should apply to any possible technical solution to the problems.

The Targeting Phase identifies and analyzes candidate technical solutions that might solve the problem and fulfill the business requirements. The result is a feasible, target solution.

The Purchasing Phase identifies and analyzes hardware and software products that will be purchased as part of the target solution.

The Design Phase specifies the technical requirements for the target solution.

The Construction Phase builds and tests the actual solution.

The Delivery Phase puts the solution into daily production.

There are two ways that FAST projects are most frequently initiated. They are either planned or unplanned. The driving force for most projects is some combination of problems, opportunities, or directives from upper management (Whitten & Bentley, 1998).

PIECES Framework

According to Whitten and Bentley (1998), there are many potential problems or opportunities that could arise during the feasibility stage of a FAST project. As identified by Whitten and Bentley, PIECES is a useful framework for classifying problems, opportunities, and directives. PIECES is also used to identify the urgency of the problem. It is identified as PIECES because each of the letters represents one of six categories:

the need to improve performance the need to improve information (and data) the need to improve economics, control costs, or increase profits the need to improve control or security the need to improve efficiency of people and processes the need to improve service to customers, suppliers, partners, employees, etc. (Whitten & Bentley, 1998)

Life Cycle Procedures typical approach to SDLC is to have many phases. These phases are established to provide an effective tool for controlling projects under development. The SDLC provides a straightforward review mechanism that enables the user to monitor and assess progress, performance, and budget status of the project. At times, it is necessary to reevaluate, reschedule, or terminate the development project. The SDLC approach also includes frequent reporting to top management. Problems that are found are discussed and resolved by the project team (Whitten, Bentley & Barlow, 1994).

As addressed by Whitten, Bentley and Barlow (1994), good documentation when using the SDLC approach should accomplish the following:

Furnish management with an understanding of system objectives, concepts, and outputs of the project.

Ensure correct and efficient processing within schema development.

Provide a convenient reference for systems analysts and programmers.

Provide material for training.

Serve as an aid for review of standards established in relation to the project.

Without a formal SDLC, as explained by Ahituv (1982), IS systems may be developed without well-defined requirements. This could also lead to documents being developed in-house when off-the-shelf solutions may be available. Also, when using a formal SDLC, the system is tested before production use whereas a failure to do so could result in inadequate project planning and tracking, inadequate systems documentation, no empowered group to represent users, and inadequate training plans (Ahituv, 1982).

References survey of system development methods (1998). Center for Technology in Government,

Albany, NY: University at Albany, CTG Publication, pp. 1-13.

Ahituv, Niv & Neumann, Seev (1982). Principles of information systems for management. Dubuque, Iowa: Wm. C. Brown Company Publishers.

Hughes, P. (2002). SDLC models and methodologies. Information Systems Branch,

Ministry of Transportation, Governement of British Columbia, Victoria, BC, Canada.

Kay, R. (2002). Quick study: SDLC. Computerworld.com. Found at http://www.computerworld.com/developmenttopics/development/story/0,10801,71151,00.html.

Survivable Systems Analysis Method (2002). Carnegie Mellon Software Engineering Institute. Found at http://www.cert.org/archive/html/analysis-method.html

Walsham, G. (1993). Interpreting information systems in organizations. UK: Wiley.

Whitten, Jeffrey L. & Bentley, Lonnie D. (1998). System… [END OF PREVIEW]

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