Sunday, August 9, 2009

Iterative Software Development

Ive been wondering why sometimes we in our projects face tight dead lines and if there is any way we could overcome such situations. In my current project we are kind of facing a tight deadline situation as well and this led me to investigate on this topic of how the development process should be organised so that these kind of issues can be resolved before hand as much as possible.

My eyes caught up on a process known as iterative development. For some this definitely is not a new concept, if so please do ignore this post :) . Iterative development as i see it is not necessarily a process by itself but we can incorporate it to any of our current processes in order to maximise efficiency and throughput.

If we look at a project at a very basic level what needs to be done in order to complete it successfully is to develop a product/application which meets all/most of the user's needs within the time line given by the user and within the budget specified. How some people approach this kind of problem is by trying to figure out all of the customer requirements before even writing a single line of code or design document and spend a considerable amount of time in that process. But what they later find out is that customer requirements never stay static because of the fact that even the customer would not know what he wants as the project is initiated. What this kind of process results in is developing a product/applications which does not meet most of the user's needs because of the fact that we lose contact with the customer after the intial rigorous requirement gathering phace and only come into contact once we go through the full cycle of the the development process.

But what we need to do is to break up whole project into smaller iterations and thereby do repetitive requirement,design,development,testing cycles in each iteration. What this kind of approach gives is the ability to get customer feed back after each iteration where the user can say if we are on track according to his/her needs or not and we can then refine our next iteration incorporating these changes. By following an iterative development process we surely are able to stay on track in most cases and meet the project deadlines without out burning the development team.

More on how to approach iterative development and how to incorporate new customer changes half way through an iteration and how to project your iteration size can be seen in the coming articles... So stay tuned ;)

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