Project Management Institute

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What IT Project Managers Need To Know about the Software Development Life Cycle

By Charmaine Karunaratne, PMP

Although the software development life cycle (SDLC) is an important part of any software project, IT project managers rarely seem to raise the topic. Instead, they leave it to the development teams to determine which SDLC method the project should use. This approach is inefficient, since picking the appropriate SDLC can have a major impact on project execution and outcome. A lack of communication between the development manager and project manager about the SDLC can lead to misunderstandings, code defects, incomplete functional specifications, incomplete defect reports and missed timelines. In fact, the SDLC, along with project management methodologies, should be a focus for a project manager.

For IT project managers accustomed to disregarding the SDLC, here are a few key things to consider:

1. While a project management methodology is a set of processes that can be applied to any temporary endeavor with a beginning and end, the SDLC is essentially a layer underneath the project management methodology or standard, focusing specifically on just the development phases, tasks and plans to deliver the IT system. In other words, SDLC is a methodology used to deliver the IT product, not the project.

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2. If properly set up, SDLC and project management methodologies will complement each other to provide optimal benefit to the project.

The SDLC model helps further elaborate the project's scope and create the technical (aka functional) specifications. During the planning phase, while the project management methodology helps identify the requirements and determine the scope for the project at a high level, SDLC will help break down those requirements into technical requirements to assist both architecture and development teams with building the product.

3. SDLC methodology offers multiple development life cycle models to deliver the product. To help determine the appropriate SDLC model for the project, ask yourself:

▪  Do your deliverables have set dates (a plandriven project), or will the timeline change depending on priority (a value-driven project)?

▪  Are your requirements complex? Will they evolve over the course of your project, or can they all be confirmed upfront?

▪  Do you need to build prototypes?

▪  How big is your project (scope, schedule, team size, risk and budget)?

▪  How are project team members set up—virtual, local or both?

▪  Do you have the appropriate technology to implement the model?

▪  What are your team's skill sets?

Providing leadership and direction to the project team is key to your project achieving results. IT project managers can offer good guidance by ensuring that the appropriate SDLC methodologies in software development projects are followed. PM

img Charmaine Karunaratne, PMP, is a technical project manager at BAE Systems Applied Intelligence, Milton, Ontario, Canada.
This material has been reproduced with the permission of the copyright owner. Unauthorized reproduction of this material is strictly prohibited. For permission to reproduce this material, please contact PMI.

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