Information Systems Development


When someone has an idea for a new function to be performed by a

computer, how does that idea become reality? If a company wants to

implement a new business process and needs new hardware or software

to support it, how do they go about making it happen? In this reading, we

will discuss the different methods of taking those ideas and bringing them

to reality, a process known as information systems development.


As we learned in Software, it is created via programming. Programming is

the process of creating a set of logical instructions for a digital device to

follow using a programming language. The process of programming is

sometimes called coding because the syntax of a programming language

is not in a form that everyone can understand—it is in “code.”

The process of developing good software is usually not as simple as

sitting down and writing some code. True, sometimes a programmer can

quickly write a short program to solve a need. But most of the time, the

creation of software is a resource‐intensive process that involves several

different groups of people in an organization. In the following sections,

we are going to review several different methodologies for software

Learning Resource

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Systems‐Development Life Cycle

The development methodology, systems‐development life cycle (SDLC),

was first developed in the 1960s to manage the large software projects

associated with corporate systems running on mainframes. It is a very

structured and risk‐averse methodology designed to manage large

projects that included multiple programmers and systems that would have

a large impact on the organization.

Various definitions of the SDLC methodology exist, but most contain the

following phases.

1. Preliminary Analysis. In this phase, a review is done of the request. Is

creating a solution possible? What alternatives exist? What is

currently being done about it? Is this project a good fit for our

organization? A key part of this step is a feasibility analysis, which

includes an analysis of the technical feasibility (Is it possible to create

this?), the economic feasibility (Can we afford to do this?), and the

legal feasibility (Are we allowed to do this?). This step is important in

determining if the project should even get started.

2. System Analysis. In this phase, one or more system analysts work

with different stakeholder groups to determine the specific

requirements for the new system. No programming is done in this

step. Instead, procedures are documented, key players are

interviewed, and data requirements are developed in order to get an

overall picture of exactly what the system is supposed to do. The

result of this phase is a system‐requirements document.

3. System Design. In this phase, a designer takes the system‐

requirements document created in the previous phase and develops

the specific technical details required for the system. It is in this

phase that the business requirements are translated into specific

technical requirements. The design for the user interface, database,

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data inputs and outputs, and reporting are developed here. The

result of this phase is a system‐design document. This document will

have everything a programmer will need to actually create the


4. Programming. The code finally gets written in the programming

phase. Using the system‐design document as a guide, a programmer

(or team of programmers) develop the program. The result of this

phase is an initial working program that meets the requirements laid

out in the system‐analysis phase and the design developed in the

system‐design phase.

5. Testing. In the testing phase, the software program developed in the

previous phase is put through a series of structured tests. The first is

a unit test, which tests individual parts of the code for errors or bugs.

Next is a system test, where the different components of the system

are tested to ensure that they work together properly. Finally, the

user‐acceptance test allows those that will be using the software to

test the system to ensure that it meets their standards. Any bugs,

errors, or problems found during testing are addressed and then

tested again.

6. Implementation. Once the new system is developed and tested, it

has to be implemented in the organization. This phase includes

training the users, providing documentation, and conversion from

any previous system to the new system. Implementation can take

many forms, depending on the type of system, the number and type

of users, and how urgent it is that the system become operational.

These different forms of implementation are covered later in this


7. Maintenance. This final phase takes place once the implementation

phase is complete. In this phase, the system has a structured support

process in place: reported bugs are fixed and requests for new

features are evaluated and implemented; system updates and

backups are performed on a regular basis.

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SDLC Waterfall

Seven phases of the systems‐

development life cycle methodology

The SDLC methodology is sometimes referred to as the waterfall

methodology to represent how each step is a separate part of the

process; only when one step is completed can another step begin. After

each step, an organization must decide whether to move to the next step

or not. This methodology has been criticized for being quite rigid. For

example, changes to the requirements are not allowed once the process

has begun. No software is available until after the programming phase.

Again, SDLC was developed for large, structured projects. Projects using

SDLC can sometimes take months or years to complete. Because of its

inflexibility and the availability of new programming techniques and tools,

many other software‐development methodologies have been developed.

Many of these retain some of the underlying concepts of SDLC, but are

not as rigid.

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The RAD Methodology

Rapid application development


Public Domain

Rapid application development (RAD) is a software‐development (or

systems‐development) methodology that focuses on quickly building a

working model of the software, getting feedback from users, and then

using that feedback to update the working model. After several iterations

of development, a final version is developed and implemented.

The RAD methodology consists of four phases:

1. Requirements Planning. This phase is similar to the preliminary‐

analysis, system‐analysis, and design phases of the SDLC. In this

phase, the overall requirements for the system are defined, a team is

identified, and feasibility is determined.

2. User Design. In this phase, representatives of the users work with

the system analysts, designers, and programmers to interactively

create the design of the system. One technique for working with all

of these various stakeholders is the so‐called JAD session. JAD is an

acronym for joint application development. A JAD session gets all of

the stakeholders together to have a structured discussion about the

design of the system. Application developers also sit in on this

meeting and observe, trying to understand the essence of the


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