Customizing the Life Cycle Model

The selection of the appropriate model is but the first step in utilizing a life cycle model on a project. The next step is customizing it to the needs of a specific project—the actual phases and activities chosen should assist the project manager in tracking the project to the model.

As we are reminded by the SEI CMM, there are no prescriptions: "Guidelines and criteria for the projects' tailoring of the organization's standard software process are developed and maintained" and "The project's defined software process is a tailored version of the organization's standard software process."

The life cycles, their phases, and their activities suggested here can be used as a starting point in defining those you need. When the customization of the model is completed, the model becomes more meaningful to the project team and the user community. It can be used as a reference point during status reporting sessions, demonstrations, risk assessment sessions, and delivery of the final product.

What if during the course of the project something changes that causes the team to think that a different model may be more appropriate? Can the model be changed during the execution of the project? The answer is, yes, it can be changed, but it should be done with careful consideration to the impacts of the project. Ultimately, it is better to change the model than to attempt to use one that is not well suited to meet the needs of the project.

The steps in life cycle selection and customization are these:

1. Become familiar with the various models.

2. Review and analyze the types of work performed: development, enhancement, maintenance, and so on.

3. Select the most appropriate life cycle, using the criteria matrices: high risk, user interface, high reliability, time to market/release, user priorities, clarity of requirements, expected life of system, technology, size and complexity, potential parallelism, and interfaces to existing and new systems.

4. Review the life cycle approach to standards required of your organization, your customer, or the type of project—ISO, IEEE, and so on.

5. Identify a set of phases and phase activities.

6. Establish internal and external deliverables.

7. Define templates and content guides for deliverables.

8. Determine review, inspection, verification, validation checkpoints, and milestones.

9. Evaluate the effectiveness of the life cycle framework, and implement improvements where needed.

A frequent method of customizing life cycles is to combine models. Two examples are shown in Figures 4-19 and 4-20.

Figure 4-19. A Software Company's Product Release Using Combined Models

Figure 4-20. A Software Development Life Cycle Using Combined Models


Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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