Project SDLC Methodologies – Benefits and Risks

SDLC Example Graphic

Which Project Methodology is best for your next project?

Every project, large or small requires application of a suitable development lifecycle model. Some organizations have rigid policies in place which make this determination for you, however, more often as a project owner or sponsor, you have the authority to determine how your next project will be executed. Here’s some advice to help you determine the best SDLC methodology for each project.

Although there are a variety of hybrid forms, most fit into one of three typical SDLC models:
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Predictive Lifecycles

Predictive methodologies work well when the work to be performed is repetitive in nature and very well-known, such as OOB software deployments.

Iterative and Incremental Lifecycles

When the phases of work involved can be repeated in iterations with each pass incrementally improving the deliverables, the phases can be executed repetitively before transitioning to successive phases.

Adaptive Lifecycles

Commonly referred to as change-driven or Agile, adaptive lifecycles are best suited for projects when there is little definition or understanding of requirements at the initiation of the project.


Benefits and Risks of Specific SDLCs for Maximo Projects

Predictive Lifecycles: These are recognizable by the ordered phases, such as Analysis/Planning/Design/Build/Test/Deploy methodologies which have been around as long as time itself. These can work when stakeholders are required to live by organizational rules without deviation from the packaged product.

Benefits: If little or no configuration is required to meet the agreed upon requirements, scope can be locked in early and a schedule can more easily be managed – as long as the skills and resources are available consistently and requirements are pre-defined in detail.

Risks: Revelation of unanticipated requirements, perhaps emerging from inconsistent stakeholder involvement or technical uncertainty – will create a steady stream of change requests for scope growth, schedule stretching and ultimately cost and quality goals will be challenging to meet.
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Iterative and Incremental Lifecycles – Best when interviews are more practical than discovery/process workshops and time is not an issue. Sometimes best applied to complex, multi-year transformational projects.

Benefits: This method addresses the challenges most predictive-phased lifecycles run into by setting up an expectation for multiple iterations of discovery, design and build activities before exiting each phase – but only when the phases are linked directly to deliverables – not to process groups or activity types.

Risks:  The organizational environment must be able to tolerate a considerably longer overall schedule. Inconsistent stakeholder participation throughout phase iterations will result in uncertainty in the acceptance of deliverables – resulting in unplanned additional iterations. Internal decision makers must be fully engaged in every iteration.

Note: A project started with a predictive lifecycle is not easily converted to an iterative one primarily because cost and schedule can increase greatly.
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Adaptive Lifecycles – Best when process and discovery workshops are difficult to free resources for continuous participation and you desire a free-flow of new requirements throughout the project. This type is not a good fit if the internal customer knows what is needed up front.


Benefits: Agile/Change-driven methodologies are great for code-level “greenfield” development projects or even packaged solutions which are considered as “highly configurable” or tailored software.

Internal customers and product owners will get to see completed pieces of functionality quickly and often. This can lead to a much shorter schedule.

Risks: Most or all of the team resources and skills will need to be available for each sprint. Few large and mid-size implementers can sustain this type of resource load when they are working several projects (clients) at any one time. (We’ve written about this risk repeatedly!) Since the full team is working on each iteration, this method produces a cost curve that quickly flattens out at a high level. Don’t expect a cost ramp-up such as typical with phased project starts.

The greatest risk experienced with Maximo and systems with complex logical relationships is the potential for high rates of unexpected regression defects and the needed remediation hours can grow exponentially. There are ways to minimize this risk.

The Take-away

These lifecycle choices apply to projects large and small, from simple enhancements to full-blown enterprise transforming implementations. While this article provides some selection guidelines, we must emphasize that no two projects are alike. Don’t fall for the sales pitch that claims an implementer’s signature method is proven to work for all situations, or that a phased methodology can be adapted to include some agile characteristics. These are classic set-ups for failure to meet your organizational and project constraints.

Clic Systems advisors have the breadth of experience to help you make the most suitable project lifecycle decisions. Call on us to help get your next project on the right path from day one.
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