Alternative Project Management Frameworks–Spiral


This is the tenth and final post in a series of posts devoted to outlining the various alternative project management  frameworks, most of which exist in the world of agile project management, based on the book “PMI-ACP and Certified Scrum Professional Exam Prep and Desk Reference”, by John Stenbeck.

The first three posts covered those frameworks which are covered on the PMI-ACP exam, namely, Scrum, Extreme Programming (XP), and Lean Software Development (LSD).   The next three posts covered the relatively “minor players” in the marketplace, Feature Driven Development (FDD), Agile Unified Process (AUP), and Crystal, that are covered in John Stenbeck’s textbook.

The next series of three posts cover the very minor players that were considered to have too small a marketshare for John Stenbeck to even cover them in his textbook.    Nevertheless, out of curiosity and for completeness’ sake, I included them in this series of posts.   These included the Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM), Essential Unified Process (EssUP), and Open Unified Process (OpenUP).

Today’s post is on the Spiral process for software development projects; although it is not technically an agile project management framework, it is being included in this series because it is another alternative to traditional waterfall methodology.

The term Spiral is an alternative approach to

  • traditional waterfall (aka “predictive”) methodology
  • incremental (aka “iterative”) methodology
  • agile (aka “adaptive”) methodology

It most closely fits into the second category of incremental or iterative methodologies.    The main idea behind the iterative approach is that the project activity goes back and repeats the same processes within the life cycle, but spiral motion combines two features, a) circular motion around the center and b) outward motion from the center, so each repeat of the process in the cycle is done at a higher level of development.    Another key concept in the spiral approach is that the next higher level of development is risk driven, meaning that it tries to lower the overall risk to the project.

Agile might be seen as the “extreme” version of these three categories, where the length of each increment of “sprint” (using language from Scrum) is fixed, and the focus is on adaptation between the requirements from the customer on the one hand and the development of the technical characteristics of the product on the other.

1.Spiral History

  • 1986–Barry Boehm publishes a paper “A Spiral Model of Software Development and Enhancement”

The key point to remember here is that Spiral is one of the alternative approaches to project management which  actually predated the early formulations of agile.

2. 6 Invariants of Spiral model cycles

  1. The requirements are known in advance of implementation.
  2. The requirements have no unresolved, high-risk implications, such as risks due to cost, schedule, performance, safety, security, user interfaces, organizational impacts, etc.
  3. The nature of the requirements will not change very much during development or evolution.
  4. The requirements are compatible with all the key system stakeholders’ expectations, including users, customer, developers, maintainers, and investors.
  5. The right architecture for implementing the requirements is well understood.
  6. There is enough calendar time to proceed sequentially.

3. 4 Activities performed in every Spiral model ycle

  1. Consider the win conditions of all success-critical stakeholders.
  2. Identify and evaluate alternative approaches for satisfying the win conditions.
  3. Identify and resolve risks that stem from the selected approach(es).
  4. Obtain approval from all success-critical stakeholders, plus commitment to pursue the next cycle.

4. Risk Determines …

  1. Level of effort–project team must decide how much effort is enough, with decisions being made by minimizing overall risk
  2. Degree of detail–project team must decide for any project artifact how much detail is enough, with decisions again being made by minimizing overall risk.

5. 3 Anchor Point Milestones used in Spiral Model

  1. Life Cycle Objectives–Is there a sufficient definition of a technical and management approach to satisfying everyone’s win conditions?
  2. Life Cycle Architecture–Is there a sufficient definition of the preferred approach to satisfying everyone’s win conditions, and are all significant risks eliminated or mitigated?
  3. Initial Operational Capability–Is there sufficient preparation of the software, site, users, operators, and maintainers to satisfy everyone’s win conditions by launching the system?

These three anchor point milestones are similar to those in the Rational Unified Process (RUP)

  1. Spiral Life Cycle Objective (LCO) ==>  RUP Boundary between Inception and Elaboration Phases
  2. Spiral Life Cycle Architecture (LCA) ==> RUP Boundary between Elaboration and Construction Phases
  3. Initial Operational Capability (IOC) ==> RUP Boundary between Construction and Transition Phases

With these ten posts on alternative project management frameworks completed, I will now discuss two agile project management tools, which can be used in conjunction with an agile project management framework, namely

  • Test Driven Development (TDD)
  • Agile Modeling (AM)
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