Defined simply at Dictionary.com, a Systems Development Life Cycle (SDLC) is:
Any logical process used by a systems analyst to develop an information system, including requirements, validation, training, and user ownership.
An SDLC should result in a high quality system that meets or exceeds customer expectations, within time and cost estimates, works effectively and efficiently in the current and planned Information Technology infrastructure, and is cheap to maintain and cost-effective to enhance.
While SDLC may be a specific process used in the IT world, its spirit can be found in any decision-making process in any arena. In most models of decision-making, there are four basic phases: Identification phase, Development of alternatives, Selection phase, and the Evaluation phase. SDLC incorporates five to six distinct phases, which utilizes the four previously mentioned phases. SDLC is a detailed model that describes the stages involved in an information system development project, from an initial feasibility study through maintenance of the completed application. In every decision-making process, the players or participants can be as important as the process itself. In some business decisions, not every member of the organization will be consulted before a decision is reached. For example, a company trying to cut costs may decide to make changes without seeking every employee's opinion or approval. They may decide to change distributors for their office supplies to take advantage of lower prices. However, in the System Development Life Cycle, all end-users affected should be part of the initial planning process. System analysts and programmers are vital to the behind-the-scenes development. Nickerson suggests that the end-users are just as vital, since they will help determine the success of the process. "An information system is designed to meet the needs of its users. To accomplish this goal,...