Fixing the highest-value stage in the System Development Life Cycle


White Paper Extract

The later in the system development life-cycle that major errors are discovered the more expensive it is to fix them: defects found in released software are 80 times more expensive to fix than defects found in the specification stage[i]. But the earliest stages of the systems development life cycle (SDLC) are most often the least consistently executed. “Defining Project Scope” and “Eliciting Requirements” are, in the terms of the Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI)[ii], neither repeatable, defined, nor managed well, let alone optimized.

This paper describes a methodology that brings the early stages of the SDLC up to a high level of maturity: consistent, proven, and optimized for success. This drastically reduces the downstream problems that plague many IT projects, and substantially enhances the predictability of cost and timelines. The larger the project, the higher the risk, therefore a sound business and software elicitation and definition methodology is an essential element in the selection of an ERP system, or in contemplating an enterprise-class application.

The methodology focuses on two intertwined steps, defining project scope, and eliciting requirements, solving the problems that account for 98% of the errors in these two stages[iii]:

·         How do you know if the requirements are complete?

·         How do you know if the requirements have been correctly and unambiguously identified?

This paper provides the answer to these questions, and how to get this answer this in a highly compressed timetable, putting a project on a stable foundation, and engaging stakeholders to secure their buy-in and enthusiasm.



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[i] Doolan, E.P., (1992) Experience with Fagan’s Inspection Method, Software Practice and Experience (Vol. 22(2)

[ii] Capability Maturity Model and CMM are service marks of Carnegie Mellon University

[iii] Standish Group, (1995) CHAOS Report



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