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The Software Building Activity

(This is a slide show. You really won't get 
anything out of it unless you have a graphical web browser with graphics turned 
This "waterfall" process has many problems, and "a more iterative approach is needed to reduce the risk and gain the necessary speed." [Shultz 9406]
  • Time between feedback points is too long for today's market demands.
  • "Defects," whether in concept, requirements, design, or coding, are by definition not caught until near the end of the process.
  • Relatively few opportunities exist for improving the product in ways that were not initially identi ed in the requirements phase.
The end result: the waterfall process rarely works as intended, rather it degenerates into exceptions and special cases by which requirements are changed, design is re-visited, and coding is discarded -- it becomes a spiral.
Let's "take it from the top," this time using a spiral (or iterative, or incremental, or Boehm*) process. It looks identical at the top; the activity is to use your staff and capital to solve a problem to spec by producing a software product, within schedule and budget constraints.
* We don't take part in the "methodology wars," feeling it is more important to do things differently than to obsess over the nuances between different methodologies, since the whole thing must be customized to some extent anyway. Some don't like the word "spiral" because it is associated with an uncontrolled "death spiral," some argue the differences between "iterative" and "incremental." [Cohen 93] We use the term "spiral" to encompass the common traits of multiple feedback loops, short time before feedback, and continuous attention to things normally relegated to project phases, such as testing, documentation, and integration.

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