The Systems Development Life Cycle (SDLC) is a methodically-built multistep process used for providing a project framework for both technical and non-technical activities. While similar to the Project Life Cycle (PLC), which merely grants a project a life span, consisting of product development, market introduction, growth, maturity & decline, the SDLC separates a project even further into seven stages. The stages of an SDLC are planning, systems analysis & requirements, systems design, development, integration & testing, implementation, and operations & maintenance (Innovative Architects. (n.d.).
Due to an IT project’s apparent challenges like changing stock values, resources, and time allotments, processes such as the SDLC and PLC ensure the effectiveness of each stage of the project’s result’s life. For example, if one was creating a software application for managing helpdesk tickets, by separating each task into phases, the life cycle of the project will be clear; this helps project managers allocate resources more effectively and plan for possible changes during the development, production, and maintenance phases. While life cycles come in a variety of forms, such as predictive, iterative, incremental, and agile, they all share the same general goal: enabling project managers to effectively plan and coordinate the often always-changing projects they manage (Fuller, M. A., Valacich, J. S., George, J. F., & Schneider, C., 2019). The PLC primarily focuses on the processes, phases, knowledge, tools, and skills of managing a project. In contrast, the SDLC focuses on the creation and implementation of the project’s product- typically, the information system. Deciding which type of life cycle one should implement is no simple task, as the decision will impact all stages of the project’s planning and possibly the end result. The SDLC is often a vital section of the PLC due to the activities in the execution phase. The final two stages of the PLC, closing and evaluating the project, usually happen after the implementation of the information system.
Products, when separated into stages, allow for greater visibility and the reduction of risk. For example, after the software is finished for the abovementioned ticketing system, how long will maintenance be performed before moving to another project or version? Phase exits, kill points, and stage gates should be clearly indicated as project deliverables, making starting and ending areas of each IT-related mission. Both SDLC and PLC provide visible stages that should be followed in order; failure to not overlap stages can cause significant strain on both the system and resources.
In the typical scenario, the initiate, determine & feasibility, plan, and execute & control phases of the PLC would be followed. At the execute & control section, the SDLC would begin. In the SDLC section, initiation, analysis, design, construct & test, and implementation would then start, followed by the PLC’s terminate phase. With a combination of both SDLC and PLC, a project can be appropriately planned and managed throughout its entire project life cycle, from the development to creation and maintenance/updates phases.
- There are many aspects that make IT projects unique. Describe four aspects and provide examples. Given examples from your concentration (Cybersecurity, IT Security, IT Project Management, Information Security Management, Business Analytics, Business Administration, Software Development, Database), as to why projects from these concentrations would be unique.
Although my concentration at the moment is cybersecurity, I currently work as an IT manager. In my time, I have undergone several major projects that required significant planning and execution, such as moving to a larger location (full IT upgrade) and implementing several software products (Zendesk, 8×8, and Rise). In my tasks, there have been several aspects that make each project unique. First, the sophistication of each project certainly creates barriers in the ability to understand what stakeholders desire, the timeframe allotted, the resources I am granted, and getting one software to communicate with all the others effectively. In the world of IT, everything we operate relates to everything else; the rise of the IoT (Internet of Things) only adds to this complexity. In any technology-related project, it is vital to understand how the many applications we use rely on each other to produce the results that stakeholders are looking for.
Next, the continuously-changing technology landscape can (and typically will) disrupt even the most well-planned projects. Events like updates, maintenance, errors, and cyberattacks can cause devastation on either the project you are working on or software that it communicates with. For example, when I first joined the company, they were using extremely outdated phone systems and had no ticketing capabilities. I began introducing Zendesk’s CRM and 8×8’s VoIP systems and was met with a vast number of challenges. As both systems could be signed on by using Google credentials, every time there was an update to Google, I would have to manually ensure the connectivity wasn’t lost. Furthermore, due to an employee being terminated, there was an event with damaged/lost data; it is these changes that make IT projects challenging to manage and maintain.
Another reason IT projects can be a nightmare is the lack of clear goals. In my experience, superiors may believe that they know what they want as far as results, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Once we were moving to a larger location at my company, I managed to convince my superiors to upgrade all of our IT infrastructure at the same time. In our old building, the rack was merely stuck in the middle of the warehouse with little cooling or protection, not to mention the extremely dusty and outdated equipment. In our new building, we now have a climate-controlled and secured rack in its own room, filled with the latest hardware. While my superior desired the change, he, of course, was put off by the money spent. One would assume that you pay for quality, but as soon as the actual price tag comes along, the figures can bring even the most battle-hardened individuals to their knees; this brings me to my next point.
Finances, in any project, are one of the most significant reasons projects can fail or at least face difficulties. Due to events such as COVID-19 and the various riots around the globe protesting the police’s excessive force, the current climate is anything but a reliant one. We have had to scale back quite a bit on several projects I am involved in due to decreased sales and enabling those who can work from home to be able do so. I believe I had around four extensive projects put on the backburner until finances are looking better, which does anything but strengthen those project’s success. Even in times before COVID-19, improper allocation of resources can be challenging, as budgets are often loosely granted to each department, slowly spreading into different areas of the business or being removed entirely.
Projects of all forms are the building blocks of any successful organization, but they are nothing that can be set in stone. As an IT manager, it is my essential duty to plan for all possible challenges we may face, such as keeping a stockpile of replacement parts or a backup account for unforeseeable changes to funding. Project management skills are not necessarily soft skills one should possess in modern times; instead, they are lessons we must learn if we wish to stay one step ahead of our competition and secured against the always-rising level and complexity of cybercrime.
Fuller, M. A., Valacich, J. S., George, J. F., & Schneider, C. (2019). Information systems project management: A process Approach, Edition 2.0. Prospect Press, Inc.
Innovative Architects. (n.d.). Innovative Architects. Retrieved June 2, 2020, from https://www.innovativearchitects.com/KnowledgeCenter/basic-IT-systems/system-development-life-cycle.aspx.
Categories: Group Theory