Archive for June, 2012

When to Derail from your Software Development Life Cycle

I’ll admit it – I like the Waterfall software development life cycle (SDLC).  Really – who wouldn’t?  Everything all defined up front, designed, coded, and delivered in a tidy package – its the perfect scenario.  But it’s not realistic.  Waterfall can take a longer timeframe. How often can the business define what they want in month 1 and not have their needs change by month 8?  And is a single delivery window the best option for your business?  However, I have not heard of the perfect scenario accomplished using Iterative or Agile either – nor any other SDLC.

In reality, what makes a great project when it starts with a SDLC and is evaluated along the way by a Project Manager and team.  The ability to evaluate the situation and determine the best points in the SDLC to take risk by introducing change and when to stay on the straight and narrow.

As I type this, I am chuckling as there are people that know me who are probably dropping their jaws about now.  They know that I do like to drive a team towards staying on the defined SDLC path.  If the risk of the defined path is low, the reward for change is low, and the results are being made with the defined path, I struggle with why to take “perceived” short-cuts.  The downside to taking an alternative approach with your SDLC is that everyone has to understand the revised plan and potential risks to scope, schedule, and cost.

In the end, this evaluation is not unlike any evaluation a business has to make when considering a change.  How disruptive could the change be to our people?  Do we have the skills needed to support the change?  What is our potential reward?  What will it cost short-term?  What will it cost long-term?  Will we have re-work to do if this goes wrong?  How soon can we evaluate if the change is effective?  And many more….

Many IT organizations diligently follow their SDLC and I am sure they have found great ways to deliver quality projects.  I think it is unrealistic to assume that every project and team can do this without having Project Managers ready to evaluate the scenario and work with the project team to adjust the plan as needed to improve the odds of success.  As IT leaders, we should evaluate our Project Managers’ ability to do this evaluation and talk to them about how to evaluate when its appropriate to consider a shift, how to evaluate the risk & rewards

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June 23, 2012 at 10:05 pm 3 comments


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