Spiral Methodology

The spiral methodology extends the waterfall model by introducing prototyping. It is generally chosen over the waterfall approach for large, expensive, and complicated projects.

At a high-level, the steps in the spiral model are as follows:

  1. The new system requirements are defined in as much detail as possible. This usually involves interviewing a number of users representing all the external or internal users and other aspects of the existing system.
  2. A preliminary design is created for the new system.
  3. A first prototype of the new system is constructed from the preliminary design. This is usually a scaled-down system, and represents an approximation of the characteristics of the final product.
  4. A second prototype is evolved using four steps:
    1. Evaluate the first prototype and identify its strengths, weaknesses, and risks.
    2. Define the requirements of the second prototype.
    3. Plan and design the second prototype.
    4. Construct and test the second prototype.
  5. At the project sponsor's option, the entire project can be aborted if the risk is deemed too great. Risk factors might involve development cost overruns, operating-cost miscalculation, or any other factor that could result in a less-than-satisfactory final product.
  6. The existing prototype is evaluated in the same manner as was the previous prototype, and, if necessary, another prototype is developed from it according to the fourfold procedure outlined above.
  7. The preceding steps are iterated until the customer is satisfied that the refined prototype represents the final product desired.
  8. The final system is constructed, based on the refined prototype.
  9. The final system is thoroughly evaluated and tested. Routine maintenance is carried out on a continuing basis to prevent large-scale failures and to minimize downtime.

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Other Methodologies

For a high-level look at project management in general, check out my introduction to project management fundamentals.

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