SDLC, Process, and Methodologies

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As an analyst practitioner I took it upon myself to act as a proxy for the product owner – which in a corporate environment came with the challenges of multiple stakeholders, the fact that you are not the product owner and thus don't really have the final say, and a number of other challenges that typically stump people trying to move to agile.

My circumstances were unique in some ways. I had worked in the organisation for some time and had established good relationships with all the key stakeholders. They really did trust me with their requirements because, over time, I had learnt (and shown I had earned) their business.

I also maintained high bandwidth communications with the stakeholders throughout the project and kept them informed of what was happening and how the system was shaping up in the context of their business needs. And expectations were managed.

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The Volere requirements techniques were developed to answer the need for a common language for discovering requirements and connecting them to solutions. The language needs to be understandable by business people, customers, business analysts, engineers, designers, suppliers, testers or anyone else whose input is needed. All of these people have different skills and, not surprisingly, different views of what is important. A language intended for all of these people must recognise the differences in peoples’ viewpoints and yet have a consistent way of communicating and tracing the
relevant knowledge. This realisation that requirements is a socio-technical discipline has a strong influence on the development of the techniques.

Author: Suzanne Robertson & James Robertson, The Atlantic Systems Guild

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The subject of current systems analysis is usually greeted with dismay or disdain by systems departments. There are many reasons for this. In many installations, the support of current systems takes more than 85% of the systems department's time, and the departments are more than ready to get on with new systems development and bury the old, non-working systems as quickly as possible. In cases where systems do not require a lot of maintenance, the systems department may find that the current systems are not giving management the kind of information it needs for effective decision making; these current systems become likely candidates for replacement.

However, there are some very legitimate reasons for documenting existing systems...

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One of the biggest challenges in any system design effort is to produce a viable system design that is well thought-out with all of the pieces and parts working harmoniously together. If something is forgotten, regardless of its seeming insignificance, it will undoubtedly cause costly problems later on. The task, therefore, is to produce a design that is demonstratively correct.

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In a nutshell, the concept of "stepwise refinement" is to take an object and move it from a general perspective to a precise level of detail. Architects have used such an approach for years, as have engineers building products. But to do so, they realized they cannot simply go from the general to the specific in one felled swoop, but instead, in increments (steps). The number of steps needed to decompose an object into sufficient detail is ultimately based on the inherent nature of the object. To illustrate, for architects designing a building, the typical steps include:

  1. Develop artist rendering (to consider viability).
  2. Design foundation and superstructure.
  3. Design Floor plans.
  4. Design electrical and plumbing diagrams.

Author: Tim Bryce

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Standardization offers the benefits of uniformity, predictability, interchangeability, and harmony. If this is not of interest to you, than there is little point in trying to participate in a standards program. But if you do wish to participate, understand there is more to implementing standards than to just say "that's just how it is going to be done." There has to be some sound rationale for their governance. In addition, you must address the enforcement issue. Standards will be adhered to by the degree of discipline instilled in the staff; If well disciplined, your chances for success are good, but if discipline is lax, automation is required to assure standards are being followed.

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I was recently asked by an "Agile" proponent if I thought our "PRIDE" methodologies were too rigid for today's fast-paced Information Technology world, that perhaps it was too bureaucratic. First, I pointed out that "PRIDE" was more of a way of thinking as opposed to anything else. You can remove all of the documentation associated with the methodologies, including the forms, and still produce a system for example. This took him aback somewhat as he had thought of "PRIDE" as an inflexible paper mill...

Discusses the implementation of a robust Systems Design Methodology.

Author: Tim Bryce

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A lot of IT folks and or BA’s believe that if you create the requirements without the business, and then review the requirements with the business for confirmation, you can save a lot of time.

After all, creating requirements collaboratively just takes too long, and the business doesn't know what they want, anyways. In addition, we (IT or BA) know the system better than the business, so it just makes sense for us to create the requirements, and then let the business say yes or no.

Let’s see this concept in practice in the “Requirements for My New Car”: a fable.

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In its simplest form, a Feasibility Study represents a definition of a problem or opportunity to be studied, an analysis of the current mode of operation, a definition of requirements, an evaluation of alternatives, and an agreed upon course of action. As such, the activities for preparing a Feasibility Study are generic in nature and can be applied to any type of project, be it for systems and software development making an acquisition, or any other project.

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The difference between an art and a science is subtle but significant. An art form is based on the intuitiveness of the person performing the work, something that is difficult, if not impossible, to pass on to another human being. For example, apprentices serving under an artist may try for years to emulate the master, but may never attain his level of skill and creativity. In contrast, a science is based on a governing body of concepts and principles and, as such, can be easily taught to others.

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Having been involved with the systems methodologies field for over 30 years I have been occasionally asked what percentage of time in a project should typically be devoted to a specific phase of work, for example a Phase 1 Feasibility Study, Phase 2 Systems Design, etc. Basically, the reason the person wants to know this is to use it as a means for estimating the remainder of the project. For example, if I were to say Phase 1 represents 10% of the overall project, they would simply multiply the amount of time spent in Phase 1 by ten. This is an unreliable approach for estimating which is why I usually balk at giving out such figures.

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This article, actually a compilation of three articles, provides proven advice for applying agile strategies on IBM® Rational® Unified Process®, or RUP®, teams. The articles are written by Mark Lines, Joshua Barnes, and Julian Holmes respectively, co-founders of Unified Process Mentors (www.upmentors.com). These three have mentored literally thousa...
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I have been very fortunate to see a lot of this history first hand. I have observed changes not just in terms of systems and computers, but also how the trade press has evolved and the profession in general. It has been an interesting ride.

Throughout all of this, there have been some very intelligent people who have impacted the industry, there have also been quite a few charlatans, but there has only been a handful of true geniuses, one of which was Robert W. Beamer who passed away just a couple of years ago. Bob was the father of ASCII code, without which we wouldn't have the computers of today, the Internet, the billions of dollars owned by Bill Gates, or this document.

I always find it amusing when I tell a young person in this industry that I worked with punch cards and plastic templates years ago. Its kind of the same dumbfounded look I get from my kids when I tell them we used to watch black and white television with three channels, no remote control, and station signoffs at midnight. It has been my observation that our younger workers do not have a sense of history; this is particularly apparent in the systems world. If they do not have an appreciation of whence we came, I doubt they will have an appreciation of where we should be going. Consequently, I have assembled the following chronology of events in the hopes this will provide some insight as to how the systems industry has evolved to its current state.

I'm sure I could turn this into a lengthy dissertation but, instead, I will try to be brief and to the point. Further, the following will have little concern for academic developments but rather how systems have been implemented in practice in the corporate world.

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The main benefit of today’s Agile development methodologies such as Scrum or XP is the promise of delivering more in a shorter period of time and the value derived from having the flexibility to adjust your course mid-way through a development effort. But does this type of approach allow for requirements management? Is RM necessary given the shorte...
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Agile Modeling (AM) defines a collection of core and supplementary principles that when applied on a software development project set the stage for a collection of modeling practices. Some of the principles have been adopted from eXtreme Programming (XP) and are well documented in Extreme Programming Explained, which in turn adopted them from commo...
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