IT Methodology Part 1
Methodology, within the context of Information Technology, can be defined as “the various ways and means, tools, techniques, and models that are available to the information systems Developer”. The main motivation for adopting a methodology varies by organizations but generally it is to achieve a better way to meet user demands; a better development process; enabling better systems integration; and creating a common approach or standardization. A good methodology shouldalso prove that you know what you intend to do and how you actually do it.
Methodologies have historically been developed with the purpose of designing and developing effective information systems. During the 1960s and 1970s, applications were developed and implemented without explicit or any formalized development methodologies. Back then, the emphasis was on programming and solving technical problems. Unlike today, computer technology rarely encompassed any training in business or organization theory. Consequentially, system designs were often inappropriate in meeting business and user requirements. This led to a new appreciation of standards and a more disciplined approach to developing information systems in organizations. The result was the first development of SDLC methodology, the waterfall model, characterized by an approach focusing on the identification of phases and stages. This approach was thought to improve the management of systems development and introduce discipline in the development process by taking a classic approach to the systems development life cycle. By embodying a method that is rigid and linear, development is planned in phases with each successive phase required to be completed before the next is started. Figure 1 illustrates a few of the critical principles of a good methodology:
- Work is done in stages,
- Content reviews are conducted between stages, and
- Reviews represent quality gates and decision points for continuing.
The waterfall methodology provides a very orderly sequence of the development steps that helps ensure the adequacy of documentation and design reviews. While arguably the simplest method, it does ensure the quality, reliability, and maintainability of the developed software. Today, many developers regard the "waterfall methodology" as being too slow and too cumbersome, but it is the foundation of SDLC methodologies and a great beginning to illustrate a few sound principles of life cycle development.
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