The Spiral Development Model

After what has been a very long pause, we’re going to go in a bit of a different direction and take a look at some project management, specifically the Spiral Development Model, which is software development process model. It can also be used for other development processes though. Like all process models, it tries to answer a few central questions:

  • What should we do next?
  • How long should we continue?
  • What can we do to have a high chance of completing our project successfully?

The spiral model takes a very unique approach to answering these questions in that it is driven by risk considerations at every step. While it’s has been around since 1986, it’s probably also one of the most misunderstood process models out there. Strictly speaking it is not really a process model per se, but a process model generator, where, depending on risk considerations, a number of development cycles are performed, always with the aim of minimizing the project risk and identifying non-viable alternatives as early as possible.

The whitepaper “Spiral Development: Experience, Principles, and Refinements” by Boehm from back in 2000 (which can be found here) gives a pretty good overview of the process, and couple of good real world examples. I want to give the process model a go for a couple of small projects I’m working on, so I wrote a short (one page!) summary as a guide to getting started with the spiral model. See you in the next post!

Cheers!
Marco

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