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Systems Development and the Systems Development Life Cycle (SDLC)

I always get annoyed when I see job advertisements asking for people "Who understand the Systems Development Life Cycle".  The trick is not understanding the SDLC, it is understanding several SDLC models, and knowledge of which model to apply to your particular circumstances. In my IT career I have led developments (and a company) capable of producing software meeting a standard of better than 0.7 errors per 10000 lines (yes, 10,000!) of code.  I have also led iterative prototyping developments with weekly release cycles, where usefulness rather than minimal error rate was the goal.

What are we striving for when we develop systems?  Mostly we get it wrong, thinking that "Quality" means "Slow, Expensive, and Unresponsive".  It doesn't! "Quality" means "Totally satisfying customers on the full range of product and service needs".  You don't satisfy a customer by producing buggy software, but you also don't satisfy a customer by producing a bug-free product late. The key is adopting a quality attitude, not obeying a detailed "Standards Manual".   

Most projects work inefficiently.  One of the keys is measurement.  Most managers miss the point: they measure (and control) only Actual cost/Budget cost.  This is relatively easy to measure, but it is less important than "What cost/benefit did we deliver?".

"THE best SDLC" does not exist. Different SDLC's have different strengths, and we must choose the best SDLC model for our particular circumstances.  In my consulting assignments and in courses I taught I find myself spending as much time on how to choose a model, as on learning to follow any one of them. There is an excellent discussion of different SDLC's in Steve McConnell's book Rapid Development.

To achieve quality and work efficiently, we need to understand the development process, and we must understand the factors that affect project risk. Customer involvement has been identified by the Standish Consulting Group (and others) as the most common missing factor in failed projects. 

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Over the course of various consulting and teaching assignments I've developed a number of presentations on SDLC and development topics.  Click here to see a selection of these presentations.

Please contact me to review your development methods, or to make any of these presentations. 

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Phone  -  (64) (9) 418 4415 
(or just 418 4415 if you are phoning from Auckland, New Zealand)


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