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Choosing The Right SDLC Methodology

What Is The Right SDLC Methodology?

In our previous post, we shared The Basics of SDLC. Now that we understand what SDLC, the next question is what is the right methodology? If you’re new to SDLC, you may be surprised to learn that there are many different approaches that an organization can take. Innovators have defined and perfected each over the years.  As you think critically about your organization, one question may be, “What is the best method to follow?” 

Let’s talk about the right methodology comparing their advantages and disadvantages. Even though the methods are distinct, they share the same aim. That is, to implement high-quality software with cost-effectiveness and in less-time.

Reviewing SDLC Methodologies

Waterfall

Waterfall methodology is the original, tried and true SDLC. In fact, many of the other methods utilize an inside approach derived from this methodology. The main principle of the Waterfall method is that the development team needs to finish each phase before continuing to the next. Also, scope is locked after the Design phase, which means there is limited ability to make changes once that phase is closed. This drives a large body of work forward in a single progressive timeline.  

Advantages Disadvantages
Ability to determine and monitor the whole project, with a set start and end dates for a finished product. It takes more time before a finished product is delivered to an end user.
Because of the upfront scoping and requirements, a more accurate cost estimation for the defined requirements.

 

After scope is locked, there are limited abilities to make changes during the implementation. This may result in change requests which increase time and cost.  Lack of flexibility.
Risks and issues are identified and planned for throughout each phase of delivery. It is difficult to conceptualize all end user requirements during the Analysis and Design phases, which may result in an end product with reduced functionality.
Technical documentation is built into Waterfall methodology to ensure that information is captured and shared as phases progress. Only in the Testing phase is it possible to identify development bugs. This may push deployment dates out late in the project life cycle.

 

Iterative

The Iterative method builds on the Waterfall methodology and improves upon it by not requiring a full list of requirements at project start. When a development team leverages an Iterative approach, they implement a set of predetermined and basic requirements. After Testing, the end users can identify any changes or add new requirements. Each phase of the Iterative method produces an improved version, but always starts with the finished product design in mind. This approach is repeated several times until the final product is complete.

 

 

Advantages Disadvantages
Shorter and less complex timeline to manage in each iteration. Each iteration is rigid in its set of requirements and delivery of functionality.
Easier to change requirements before the final product is developed. It needs a larger number of resources to be able to work on the overlapping iterations.
Because changes are expected in each iteration there is less of a need for heavy documentation. Possible issues or delays occur during the implementation because requirements less defined and when changes occur they are more complicated.
Possible to identify functional flaws from the beginning. Not very practical for small projects.
An easier transitional step for many Waterfall organizations to begin shifting to an Agile-like approach.

Agile/Scrum

The Agile or Scrum methodology is a popular SDLC format that takes the Iterative approach to the next level. Under Agile requirements and improvements are always ongoing with development teams and end users constantly reviewing and creating new features and functionality, as well as fixing any issues which are identified. In an Agile format release cycles focus on only the amount of work that can be done in a 2-8 week window, called a “sprint”. Each sprint goes through all of the steps from analysis to implementation, with testing and maintenance happening constantly for both old and new features.

Agile is touted for its speed and flexibility, but it requires an organization from top to bottom that is prepared to work together in a timely manner to complete sprints well.

Advantages Disadvantages
Delivers functionality in weeks vs. months. The total cost to implement is more complex to estimate.
Flexible approach allows adjustments to functionality throughout development with limited cost and time impacts. Increased cost and time to implement when end product goal too loosely defined.
Feedback from stakeholders and end users is ongoing and frequent, improving the features and functionality more quickly. Limited documentation on requirements and changes due to the focus on speed to implementation.
Can be managed with smaller more focused delivery teams. Requires a high degree of understanding of the methodology and coordination at the leadership levels.

As you can see the SDLC Methodology that an organization adopts will provide its own set of strengths and weaknesses.  When considering which option is the best fit for your team keep in mind the types of technology, skills, and comfort level of your stakeholders, and overall goals for balancing flexibility with a cost. There’s no overall methodology which is better, there is only the right method for your project and team.

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