A modern system development process is designed to be an iterative cycle rather than a waterfall. This approach allows for development projects to be more agile and adaptive, even when faced with changing challenges. Agile development and iterative systems development life cycle, or SDLC, also allows for systems to be more up to date based on user needs and organizational requirements.
The key to having shorter development cycles while maintaining effectiveness and efficiency is good design of the cycle itself. There are known approaches to choose from, but you must start with understanding the specific needs of your organization to find the best form. This practical guide to planning your next project’s SDLC will help you overcome the challenges easily.
It Starts with Analysis
Any good SDLC starts with evaluation and analysis. The two steps are required for the rest of the cycle to be effective. You cannot start a development project without fully understanding the existing systems, the required features, and deficiencies that must be plugged by the new iteration. These are details that will dictate the rest of the cycle.
Evaluation and analysis also make the cycle continuous. At the end of every cycle, further evaluation and analysis are conducted to identify the steps that need to be taken in the next cycle. The process also involves prioritizing tasks, deciding features to add (or remote), and integrating new user requirements and requests into the process.
Plan and Requirements
Once a good understanding of the existing systems, their deficiencies, and the needs of users is achieved, it is time to plan for the actual development of the new system. The most straightforward approach to take at this stage is taking the deficiencies that have been identified earlier and specifically adding features to address them.
Of course, this is not the only approach. With shorter, more agile development cycles, the process can focus more on necessities and user experience, bringing the best value to the business, and improvements that produce the biggest impact on the organization. Other approaches take resources into account when prioritizing development tasks.
The latter is actually becoming more common. With resources that are available to developers becoming more limited, it is not uncommon for organizations to consider the limit of their development capabilities when planning their SDLC. Resource awareness helps guide the process and boost efficiency at the same time.
There are multiple ways to address deficiencies in the existing systems and answer problems. Hardware solutions, operating systems, apps and business solutions, proprietary technologies, and even better communications of features and IT facilities are all options worth considering. During the design phase, these options are integrated into a comprehensive system.
This makes the design process incredibly important. Since every aspect of the systems can be structured and designed for specific needs, the information gathered during the previous phases becomes the key to achieving good systems design. Once again, the primary objectives are efficiency and effectiveness in both development and usage.
Systems design can be challenging when there are multiple deficiencies to address, but there is always the least disruptive path to find. When big changes are needed, you can also design the process to run concurrently with the existing systems, allowing for a smoother transition when the project reaches its Go-Live stage.
The previous steps are all about preparing for the actual system development. After all, systems development is 80% planning and evaluation, and 20% development and testing. The actual development of the new system is also the simplest part of the process most of the time. You already have a systems design to follow after all.
Developing new systems also includes acquiring and integrating new hardware as well as developing software solutions designed to work with the new infrastructure. The latter may include updating existing components to account for hardware changes and new requirements. During this phase, security measures are also implemented.
Development of user skills is also part of the process. Keep in mind that users need to be aware of the new features – and the overall design of the new system – before they can use it optimally. The training program starts with developers involved in the project before branching out to the rest of the organization.
Test Before Use
Another crucial part of the SDLC is testing. This is a step that must be taken seriously. Unfortunately, a lot of organizations still see testing as an afterthought. Failure to do sufficient testing will result in the new system facing issues and causing errors, both of which are harmful to the smooth operations (and the bottom line) of the organization.
There are multiple types of software testing to choose from, including localization testing for solutions designed to be used in multiple languages. Manually testing the performance of the software against the infrastructure that supports it is also a must. Fortunately, almost all testing can be simplified with the help of globalapptesting.com.
Global App Testing has years of experience in testing new and existing systems and applications. The company provides solutions that optimise the whole QA process on another level. You can even integrate testing as early as during the initial phase of the development project.
Deploy and See
Deploying new systems is both exciting and daunting at the same time. It is exciting because developers and those involved in the development project can now see the new system being used in the wild. User feedback and responses to the new features being made available by the update are also thrilling to go through.
However, there are still risks to mitigate, which makes an abrupt switch to a new system never a good idea. You want a gradual migration, with the new system running in parallel with the old one, to minimize disruptions to business operations. Meeting business objectives is still the primary goal here, and a smooth transition is how you achieve that.
Maintaining the New System
During the transition, you also need to pay attention to user behavior and the difficulties they may face when moving to the new system. Upgrades, additional changes, training, and regular maintenance work is often required before the new system – and its users – settles in for long-term use. As mentioned earlier, evaluation and analysis are important.
One step to add to this phase is user review or interview. While you can get the design of the system right down to the last detail through initial research and analysis, you want to understand how the users really interact with the system and the features that they find beneficial (or annoying) to have the opportunity to refine the system further.
It doesn’t stop with software feedback either; you also want to pay attention to how the infrastructure is holding up, particularly how users are benefiting from the performance delivered by that infrastructure. Small tweaks that are impactful usually come from listening to and understanding user feedback at this point.
With the SDLC being planned and executed in these steps, the cycle will not only be incredibly efficient but also very effective in achieving IT and business objectives. At the same time, you will have more opportunities to listen to user feedback, discover additional deficiencies, and create better, more refined systems to support business operations.