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Which Methodology?

What does a methodology need to be able to cope with the idiosyncrasies of e-business projects? It needs to make provision for these techniques:

  • Designing, building, and prototyping the architecture up front

  • Iterative design and development

  • Timeboxing

  • User-centered approach via JAD and prototyping

While other methodologies, such as the Rational Unified Process (RUP), make provision for some of these aspects, it appears to me that the only widely known methodology that fully supports the needs of building e-business systems is the Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM)4.

The prime focus of DSDM is providing the critical business functionality when it's really needed, using the iterative prototyping approach married with the timeboxing technique. These techniques also allow it to cope well with changing requirements—and changing understanding of requirements—without having to trash the project and start over. The prioritization exercises that have to take place in order to fully determine deliverables for a timebox reduce the pain involved in making difficult e-business decisions.

DSDM also aims to resolve business/change management issues by identifying stakeholders of the system and determining how they will be affected by its implementation, getting representatives of all stakeholders involved early on in the process. However, DSDM requires a great deal of commitment from all the stakeholders in order to work effectively.

All in all, DSDM provides an effective methodology for capturing requirements for an e-business system, and implementing that system in a timely fashion but with quality built in.

In my next article, I describe in detail two e-business projects—one failure and one resounding success—and explore how DSDM/RAD methodology might have saved the failed project.

For further reading on DSDM/RAD and good development techniques, see Steve McConnell's books Code Complete: A Practical Handbook of Software Construction (Microsoft Press, 1993) and Rapid Development: Taming Wild Software Schedules (Microsoft Press, 1996).

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