System Life Cycle and Methodologies: Chapter 3

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The life cycle process was developed so managers of major defense acquisition programs are not forced into making snap decisions. Rather, a structured process, replete with controls, reviews, and key decision points, provides the basis for sound-decision making based on knowledge, experience, and training. In this chapter you will learn that the life cycle process is a logical flow of activity representing an orderly progression from the identification of a mission need to final operational deployment and support.

As a program manager, you must be prepared to develop a tailored management approach that will achieve an operational capability with the most effective use of resources and time available. Choosing the right life cycle management methodology for your program depends on the nature of its operational environment, stability of requirements and technology, your software domain, the methods and tools used, and the controls and deliverables required. If appropriate, life cycle phases can be combined or omitted. Some programs [especially in the case of MIS where technology is well-developed, purchased as commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS), or government-off-the-shelf (GOTS)] may enter the life cycle midstream. Each life cycle phase is designed to develop a level of confidence in the solution(s) offered and to reduce the risks involved in making a decision to proceed to the next phase. Outputs of each phase constitute a definitive, documented baseline for entry into subsequent phases.