A component of the monitoring and control phase of the project is its software development methodology. In the earliest stages of planning, a decision about what techniques(s) to be used is made. If schedule is not a concern, then the developing approach is likely to be slower and more deliberate to ensure quality and to ensure that numerous alternative approaches can be explored. If there is an urgency to field a system, then some form of a rapid development technique will be used. Likewise, if the project runs behind schedule, then the rapid development techniques can be employed as a controlling mechanism.
Rapid development techniques are becoming more critical and useful as information technology projects compete in the world market. Some companies seek a special rapid development technique that will significantly improve the project schedule and beat the rush-to-market goal, thus burying the competition forever. Others seek a way to improve schedules so that they can just maintain market share. All companies are seeking ways to improve project performance. Each is looking at rapid development techniques for the answer. But which technique is the silver bullet?
There has been much written on light methodologies during the past five years. Light methodologies refer to techniques that provide processes for significantly decreasing the amount of time spent in the development cycle. These methodologies were developed with a focus on software development, but most are equally applicable to other engineering projects as well. One common problem with the light methodologies is that they all introduce an element of risk into the project. As we saw earlier, risk is not necessarily bad, if it is properly planned for and handled correctly. Another problem, at least as viewed by some organizations, is that some of these techniques require extraordinary discipline to properly implement and use, which may not be easy for some individuals or organizations. So the search for and the selection of the right technique is critical and difficult, particularly when the right technique might just be an improvement in the organization's existing processes.
This chapter discusses the dimensions of rapid development in order to provide a basis of understanding about the project elements that can be modified to improve the development process, and it provides a strategy for making these improvements. It also discusses how to determine whether a rapid development technique, in the sense of a light methodology, is needed at all. The chapter also discusses some common development models and how they can be enhanced to improve development schedules. It ends with a discussion of the better-known rapid development techniques and light methodologies and the advantages and disadvantages of each.