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Systems Development

Developing a computer system can be a very complex process with many opportunities to go off on tangents and fail to meet the projects goals and objectives. A structured systems development approach provides the recipe for the project leader(s) to follow to improve the chances of successfully completing the project. There are over one thousand different Information System Development Methodologies, which a project can follow. There are similarities between many of these methodologies, and there are differences. The intent here is not to select one and say this is the best follow it. Rather, the intent is to encourage project leaders to pick a methodology that they feel is right for their organization and for their project.

Having selected a methodology the next step is to customize it to reflect your organization's values. Following every step a methodology suggests could, in some situations, be as detrimental to the project as not following any methodology. The project leaders must take ownership of the methodology and understand how each step contributes to the realization of the projects goal and objectives.

Most systems development methodologies include the following tasks (they may have different names, but the outcome of the task is the same:
  • Solidify the scope of the system being developed
  • Develop models documenting each function the system is to perform. This can be done with process models, use case diagrams, or some other technique
  • Develop models documenting the information needed to support each function the system is to perform.
  • Document system usage information and service level targets
  • Develop application architecture
  • Develop technology architecture
  • Conduct a risk assessment on the various components included in the proposed system solution
  • Develop proofs of concepts and prototypes for those parts of the system which are complex, or high risk
  • Design & implement a database
  • Develop the computer system, training manuals, etc.
  • Support independent testing of the application
  • oversee implementation of the new computer system. In addition to the general tasks identified above, clients should have a full time project leader assigner to the project so are comfortable with the system design and can answer and questions which are raised.