Magazine article CMA - the Management Accounting Magazine

The Evolution of the Silver Bullet

Magazine article CMA - the Management Accounting Magazine

The Evolution of the Silver Bullet

Article excerpt

In the world of systems development, there is an on-going quest for the "perfect" development methodology. This blueprint for building applications has a different name and a different face every decade.

The 1970's offered off-the-shelf purchased methodologies, fully featured with steps and deliverables for each stage in the development of a new system. These paper-based methodologies, refined over the years, often took the shape of thick multibinder volumes of standards manuals.

The 1980's offered three trends. Many organizations, having experienced the bureaucracy of the purchased methodology, evolved to a "grow your own" variety; other first-timers looked to the purchased methodology as the way to make the transition to a repeatable way of building systems more quickly; still others used prototyping as the rationale for continuing the practice of development with no formal methods.

Now, in the 1990's, many IS organizations are again addressing the topic of development methodology. The impetus for this renewed interest comes from:

* The advent of powerful development tools

* The return to major development efforts after years of maintenance

* The business demands for new applications

* The belief that there is a better way.

IS professionals want to find radical new ways of delivering information systems to satisfy their customer needs. While we know there is no silver bullet or magic solution, we want to believe there is a significantly better way. There probably is, but that "way" will always be evolving.

Industry guru James Martin proposes rapid application development (RAD) as the answer to information systems productivity. RAD is a development lifecycle built around the powerful new development software tools to give much faster development and higher quality results than previously possible. The RAD 'approach proposes that large systems can be delivered within six months.

While the majority of Canadian companies may not fit under the large enterprise title, many of the concepts within RAD are applicable and can be adapted to smaller environments.

There is no universal development methodology that fits all. Each organization brings its own use of and emphasis on tools and techniques to any development project. For example, where do prototyping, reusable designs and code, fourth generation languages, CASE tools, data modeling and process modeling fit into the development environment? …

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