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Systems Development Lifecycle (SDLC)

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Systems Development Life Cycle (SDLC) is all the stages that a new system goes through. When some organization decides to modify the existing system or develop a new system from the scratch, it goes through stages or phases called system development life cycle.

System development is important when a change becomes necessary in any organization. This change may be due to new technology alterations, fund growth, the existing system's old age, new organizational requirements, etc. SDLC happens when an old system is being replaced with a new computerized system (Turban &Volonino, 2012). It happens also when a new system is starting to be developed from scratch. The stages of SDLC are not done once but they are repeated so the company objectives are gained. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the process of Systems Development Life Cycle and the associated models with an aim of understanding the Similarities and Differences between the various models involved in system development.

Objectives of SDLC

There are three main objectives of SDLC

  • Ensuring that high quality systems are delivered
  • Providing the projects with management controls
  • Maximizing the productivity of the staff involved in the system development (De et al, 2011).

There are several concise requirements that SDLC ought to meet in order to achieve the three objectives mentioned above. First, SDLC must support systems of different types and scopes. It also must be able to support management activities and technical activities involved in the development of a new system (Munassar & Govardhan, 2010). The organization's top management level decides to use SDLC after they are certain it is obvious that a necessary project has to be implemented within the organization. They must also ensure the best level of knowledge is available while embarking on the process.

Phases of SDLC

This paper will focus on the 7-step model and the 4-step model. The phases of a 7-step model are as follows:

  1. Project Planning
  2. Systems Analysis
  3. Systems Design
  4. Implementation
  5. Integration/Testing
  6. Deployment
  7. Maintenance (Langer, 2012).

Project Planning

Project planning is used to establish the ojectives of the intended system development project. It is also helpful in determining ways of accomplishing the project in the best way possible. A systems analyst, who may be an outside consultant from the company, outlines the system’s requirements for the proposed changes (Velagapud, 2012). The analyst also develops a budget and a system’s development schedule. The company understands the problem and the offered solution.

Systems Analysis

Systems analysis refers to the detailed assessment of the recorded facts so as to determine the proposed system requirements. Systems analysis has the following aims: (1) Providing an assessment of the existing system, (2) Evaluating the possible alternatives, (3) Performing a SWOT analysis (Strengthens, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats), and (4) Producing a statement of the requirements (Velagapud, 2012). Systems analysis phase filters the goals into a well-defined operations and functions of the intended project.

Systems Design

Systems design is the process of designing how the intended system will look like once it becomes operational. This means that the outlook or framework of a new system is built at this stage. The logical and the physical structure is determined as well. Some of the system objectives that should be considered in this phase include: cost effectiveness, user friendliness, accuracy, flexibility, reliability, compatibility, acceptability, development time and schedule. Systems design includes business rules, screen layouts, pseudo code, process diagrams and other documentation (Turban et al, 2011).

Implementation

Implementation deals with actual system development where the proposed system is programmed and built. The software developers start with module specifications and concentrate on individual modules. The result of the implementation is an executable program.

Integration/Testing

This is where the system is tested to ensure it works properly and it conforms with all the system requirements. In this phase the system is checked to ensure it is error-free, bugs are corrected and interoperability is checked. Technically, this is not the phase following implementation. That would suggest that testing cannot be done after implementation. Attention to testing should be paid even during project planning (Needs, 2012).

Deploymment

Deployment phase is a stage in the initial development where the system is delivered to the customer and put into production. System conversion or changeover is included in this phase. The system is checked upon its working under real conditions (Langer, 2012).

Maintenance

This is the last phase of the 7-step model. This phase is important because it seemingly continues forever. The system is adapted to changing requirements, changing procedures, programs, and documentation (Needs, 2012).

4-Step Model

The 4-step model includes four phases which the projects go through over time. Each phase may involve more than one iteration which means that the developers go back to the previous phase for some changes before proceeding to the next stage (Turban et al, 2011). The 4 steps involved in this model are:

  1. Inception Phase
  2. Elaboration Phase
  3. Construction Stage
  4. Transition phase (Trendowicz, 2013).

The Inception phase is an approximate vision of a new system developed. The building of different business issues for the system is done in this stage. The defining of the project scope, project schedule and costs estimation are also done here. Technically, the system requirements are identified and described in the inception phase (Alkhafaji & Sriram, 2012). The construction phase is where the development of the proposed specifications are carried out iteratively. The transition phase concludes the 4-step model phases by conducting beta test of a new system and its deployment so that users can have a fully working system.

Conclusion

This paper has demonstrated SDLC as an abstract model used in system development and project management. The paper has also described the stages involved in an IS development project from the initial planning to maintenance of the completed system. By looking at the various models that go through different phases in Software development it is possible for organization management to determine the appropriate model to use for there IS development project. For example for a complex system that requires coding the millions of lines of custom codes, it is necessary for analysts, testers, programmers and users to work together and work on the project using  a 5-step model as opposed to a 4-step or 7-step model.

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