Selecting Software Development Life Cycles

Selecting Software Development Life Cycles

By definition, a project is a unique undertaking, resulting in a unique product. It follows, then, that a project is likely to employ a unique process for product development. How does a project manager go about the formulation of a correct process, or life cycle, to follow to achieve the project goals? Rather than starting from scratch with each project, the software manager is well served to begin with a generic, proven approach and customize it. There are various "starter" life cycles from which to choose. Some of the most widely used ones will be presented here, along with guidelines for selecting an appropriate one and guidelines for tailoring it to the needs of a particular project.

"Introduction", explained how and why the organization of this blog follows a software product development life cycle. It's just a way to discuss the 34 product, project, and people competencies in a logical order. Based on our process framework (following figure), defining the product (product competency 3) occurs before estimating its cost (project competency 14), so the former is presented before the latter. By following the process framework, we are also following the five major project phases published in the Project Management Institute's Body of Knowledge (PMBOK): initiation, planning, executing, controlling, and closing. Selecting and customizing a software development life cycle for a particular project occurs during the PMI planning phase.

Selection of a Project-Specific Life Cycle Occurs at the Beginning of the Project

Where We Are in the Product Development Life Cycle

Where are we in the product development life cycle model that serves as our map? As shown in above figure, we are very close to the beginning. When the project manager is developing the software project management plan (SPMP), he will be considering the activities, grouped into phases, that constitute a development approach.

The waterfall used here provides a convenient platform to present the 34 competencies. We hope that you will not assume that we are advocating the waterfall model as a software development life cycle for all new projects. It does work sometimes, under some circumstances, but it is sometimes not the most suitable life cycle model to apply to a software development project.

One size certainly does not fit all. A project manager will always want to research and settle on an approach that is most suitable for the product under development - and do it early in the game. The best choice may turn out to be the waterfall, but it will very likely be a more modern model.


spmp, software manager, software project management
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