Information Systems in Organizations

SDLC vs. The Chaotic Evolution of Technology (System Development Life Cycle)

One of the topics discussed in Chapter 9 of Information Systems Today describes the systems development life cycle and its four primary stages:

  1. Systems planning and selection
  2. Systems analysis
  3. Systems design
  4. Systems implementation and operation

In the article System Development Life Cycle, written by Russel Kay, he mentions a number of system development life cycle (SDLC) models that were developed in order to make it easier to manage todays much larger and complex systems, allowing teams to work more efficiently in parallel.

The oldest and best known of these is the waterfall model, which is very similar to the process described by Valacich.  But even though this model is well understood, Kay argues that it’s not as useful as it used to be.  In a 1991 Information Center Quarterly article, Larry Runge stated that SDLC “works very well when we are automating the activities of clerks and accountants. It doesn’t work nearly as well, if at all, when building systems for knowledge workers — people at help desks, experts trying to solve problems, or executives trying to lead their company into the Fortune 100.”


Another issue is that the waterfall model operates under the assumption that the only role for users is in specifying requirements, and that the requirements can be specified in advance.  The problem here is that requirements grow and change throughout the entire process, which calls for extensive feedback and iterative consolation.

As a result of trying to solve these types of issues, these others SDLC models have been developed: waterfall, fountain, spiral, build and fix, rapid prototyping, incremental, and synchronize and stabilize.





1. Can you recall something you’ve heard or read where a company applied some sort of SDLC?

2.  Do you think more complex models of SDLC will be introduced with technologies fast paced evolution?

3.  Can you think of an example of any positions or industries where the water fall module would not be suitable?

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