Ah, the software development lifecycle. Good ‘ol SDLC. It’s been such a huge part of project management for so long now, it’s easy to just go through the motions. Create your project plan. Check. Complete development and begin testing. Check. More often than not, you may find yourself running along the SDLC path without time to reflect. You may hit your deadlines but did you deliver the best work in the most efficient manner? Here are some ways you can maximize the software development life cycle to not only hit your deadlines but to exceed expectations and create unprecedented morale within your team and with your customers.
Be Conservative with Your Project Plan
You know your team. You know how long it takes them to complete a variety of tasks. You’re a fair manager and you know they’ll fight for you to hit a deadline. But how are they really? Are they overworked? Exhausted? Has your customer put increasing pressure on you to do more with less time? Has that led you to put increased pressure on your team? Most of the time, your customer has an urgent deadline that needs to be hit no matter what. Everyone suffers from that mentality – including your customer. This needs to be tackled in the first phase of the software development life cycle: requirements. Your tendency will be to fit as much as possible into your customer’s time frame. That’s a dangerous precedent to set. Be realistic with your customer and deliver your best work. Rushing through design, development, and testing only makes everyone tired, frustrated, and results in poor delivered work.
Plan Padding Time
Plan padding time into the project plan that your customer won’t see but you know is there. Your customer will come up with something urgent in the middle of your project that just needs to get done. You want to have some extra time so you’re not scrambling.
Request Additional Help Right Away
Things rarely go as planned. If your customer insists on including too much in the project plan and you know it will result in poor delivery, request or hire additional help immediately. The upfront cost will save you in the long run. It’s always good to have one more hand on the team than you think you need.
As you can see, making the most out of the software development life cycle really mean making the most out of the requirements phase. The SDLC does most of the work for you. Once you have a plan in place, you move linearly from one phase to the next. Complete design. Move onto development. Test it. Deliver. But, with a crowded project plan, you might find yourself having to redesign, re-develop, and retest because of rushed shoddy work. Take the time in the beginning to really put your foot down in a professional way about what you can deliver while also keeping the health of your team and of your customer a priority. The software development lifecycle will then work for you. You’ll be able to neatly wrap up each phase before moving onto the next, which is how it’s supposed to work.