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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Systems Development Life Cycle

The Systems Development Life Cycle (SDLC), or Software Development Life Cycle in systems engineering and software engineering, is the process of creating or altering systems, and the models and methodologies that people use to develop these systems. The concept generally refers to computer or information systems.

In software engineering the SDLC concept underpins many kinds of software development methodologies. These methodologies form the framework for planning and controlling the creation of an information system: the software development process.

Systems Development Life Cycle (SDLC) is a logical process used by a systems analyst to develop an information system, including requirements, validation, training, and user (stakeholder) ownership. Any SDLC should result in a high quality system that meets or exceeds customer expectations, reaches completion within time and cost estimates, works effectively and efficiently in the current and planned Information Technology infrastructure, and is inexpensive to maintain and cost-effective to enhance.

Computer systems are complex and often (especially with the recent rise of Service-Oriented Architecture) link multiple traditional systems potentially supplied by different software vendors. To manage this level of complexity, a number of systems development life cycle (SDLC) models have been created: "waterfall"; "fountain"; "spiral"; "build and fix"; "rapid prototyping"; "incremental"; and "synchronize and stabilize".[citation needed]

SDLC models can be described along a spectrum of agile to iterative to sequential. Agile methodologies, such as XP and Scrum, focus on light-weight processes which allow for rapid changes along the development cycle. Iterative methodologies, such as Rational Unified Process and Dynamic Systems Development Method, focus on limited project scopes and expanding or improving products by multiple iterations. Sequential or big-design-upfront (BDUF) models, such as Waterfall, focus on complete and correct planning to guide large projects and risks to successful and predictable results.[citation needed]

Some agile and iterative proponents confuse the term SDLC with sequential or "more traditional" processes; however, SDLC is an umbrella term for all methodologies for the design, implementation, and release of software.

In project management a project can be defined both with a project life cycle (PLC) and an SDLC, during which slightly different activities occur. According to Taylor (2004) "the project life cycle encompasses all the activities of the project, while the systems development life cycle focuses on realizing the product requirements".

The systems development lifecycle (SDLC) is a type of methodology used to describe the process for building information systems, intended to develop information systems in a very deliberate, structured and methodical way, reiterating each stage of the life cycle. The systems development life cycle, according to Elliott & Strachan & Radford (2004), "originated in the 1960s to develop large scale functional business systems in an age of large scale business conglomerates. Information systems activities revolved around heavy data processing and number crunching routines".[6]

Several systems development frameworks have been partly based on SDLC, such as the Structured Systems Analysis and Design Method (SSADM) produced for the UK government Office of Government Commerce in the 1980s. Ever since, according to Elliott (2004), "the traditional life cycle approaches to systems development have been increasingly replaced with alternative approaches and frameworks, which attempted to overcome some of the inherent deficiencies of the traditional SDLC"

Systems development phases
Systems Development Life Cycle (SDLC) adheres to important phases that are essential for developers, such as planning, analysis, design, and implementation, and are explained in the section below. There are several Systems Development Life Cycle Models in existence. The oldest model, that was originally regarded as "the Systems Development Life Cycle" is the waterfall model: a sequence of stages in which the output of each stage becomes the input for the next. These stages generally follow the same basic steps but many different waterfall methodologies give the steps different names and the number of steps seem to vary between 4 and 7. There is no definitively correct Systems Development Life Cycle model, but the steps can be characterized and divided in several steps.

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