The Systems Development Life Cycle (SDLC) gives structure to the challenges of transitioning from the beginning to the end of your project without forgetting a step. Several different SDLC models are used today to guide professionals through project-based work.
Here are the key pros and cons of six of the most common SDLC models for project management and leading campaigns.
The waterfall is the oldest and most straightforward of the structured SDLC methodologies — finish one phase, then move on to the next—no going back. Each stage relies on information from the previous stage and has its own project plan. The waterfall is easy to understand and simple to manage. But early delays can throw off the entire project timeline. And since there is little room for revisions once a stage is completed, problems can’t be fixed until you get to the maintenance stage.
This model doesn’t work well if flexibility is needed or the project is long-term and ongoing.
Also known as the Verification and Validation model, the V-shaped model grew out of Waterfall and is characterised by a corresponding testing phase for each development stage. Like Waterfall, each stage begins only after the previous one has ended.
This model is useful when there are no unknown requirements, as it’s still challenging to go back and make changes.
The Iterative model is repetition incarnate. Instead of starting with fully known requirements, you implement software requirements, then test, evaluate and pinpoint further requirements. A new software version is produced with each phase or iteration. Rinse and repeat until the complete system is ready. One advantage over other SDLC models: This model gives you a working version early in the process and makes it less expensive to implement changes.
One disadvantage: Resources can quickly be eaten up by repeating the process repeatedly.
One of the most flexible SDLC methodologies, the Spiral model takes a cue from the Iterative model and its repetition; the project passes through four phases over and over in a “spiral” until completed, allowing for multiple rounds of refinement. This model allows for building a highly customised product, and user feedback can be incorporated early in the project.
But the risk you run is creating a never-ending spiral for a project that goes on and on.
Big Bang Model
An anomaly among SDLC methodologies is that the Big Bang model follows no specific process, and very little time is spent on planning. Most resources are thrown toward development, and even the client may not have a solid grasp of the requirements. This is one of the SDLC models typically used for small projects with only one or two software engineers.
Big Bang is not recommended for large or complex projects, as it’s a high-risk model; if the requirements are misunderstood initially, you could reach the end and realise the project may have to be started again.
By breaking the product into cycles, the Agile model quickly delivers a working product and is considered a very realistic development approach. The model produces ongoing releases with small, incremental changes from the previous release. At each iteration, the product is tested. This model emphasises interaction, as the customers, developers and testers work together throughout the project.
But since this model depends heavily on customer interaction, the project can head the wrong way if the customer is not clear on the direction he or she wants to go.
Which SDLC model is suitable for you?
Each of these SDLC methodologies offers a unique process for the various project challenges you will encounter in your career. Finding the right one depends heavily on not just the expected outcome but the parameters by which the project is executed.
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