Table of Contents | Executive Summary | Chapter 1


SDLC Objectives

This guide was developed to disseminate proven practices to system developers, project managers, program/account analysts and system owners/users throughout the DOJ. The specific objectives expected include the following:

Key Principles

This guidance document refines traditional information system life cycle management approaches to reflect the principles outlined in the following subsections. These are the foundations for life cycle management.

Life Cycle Management Should be used to Ensure a Structured Approach to Information Systems Development, Maintenance, and Operation

This SDLC describes an overall structured approach to information management. Primary emphasis is placed on the information and systems decisions to be made and the proper timing of decisions. The manual provides a flexible framework for approaching a variety of systems projects. The framework enables system developers, project managers, program/account analysts, and system owners/users to combine activities, processes, and products, as appropriate, and to select the tools and methodologies best suited to the unique needs of each project.

Support the use of an Integrated Product Team

The establishment of an Integrated Product Team (IPT) can aid in the success of a project. An IPT is a multidisciplinary group of people who support the Project Manager in the planning, execution, delivery and implementation of life cycle decisions for the project. The IPT is composed of qualified empowered individuals from all appropriate functional disciplines that have a stake in the success of the project. Working together in a proactive, open communication, team oriented environment can aid in building a successful project and providing decision makers with the necessary information to make the right decisions at the right time.

Each System Project must have a Program Sponsor

To help ensure effective planning, management, and commitment to information systems, each project must have a clearly identified program sponsor. The program sponsor serves in a leadership role, providing guidance to the project team and securing, from senior management, the required reviews and approvals at specific points in the life cycle. An approval from senior management is required after the completion of the first seven of the SDLC phases, annually during Operations and Maintenance Phase and six-months after the Disposition Phase. Senior management approval authority may be varied based on dollar value, visibility level, congressional interests or a combination of these. The program sponsor is responsible for identifying who will be responsible for formally accepting the delivered system at the end of the Implementation Phase.

A Single Project Manager must be Selected for Each System Project

The Project Manager has responsibility for the success of the project and works through a project team and other supporting organization structures, such as working groups or user groups, to accomplish the objectives of the project. Regardless of organizational affiliation, the Project Manager is accountable and responsible for ensuring that project activities and decisions consider the needs of all organizations that will be affected by the system. The Project Manager develops a project charter to define and clearly identify the lines of authority between and within the agency’s executive management, program sponsor, (user/customer), and developer for purposes of management and oversight.

A Comprehensive Project Management Plan is Required for Each System Project

The project management plan is a pivotal element in the successful solution of an information management requirement. The project management plan must describe how each life cycle phase will be accomplished to suit the specific characteristics of the project. The project management plan is a vehicle for documenting the project scope, tasks, schedule, allocated resources, and interrelationships with other projects. The plan is used to provide direction to the many activities of the life cycle and must be refined and expanded throughout the life cycle.

Specific Individuals Must be Assigned to Perform Key Roles Throughout the Life Cycle

Certain roles are considered vital to a successful system project and at least one individual must be designated as responsible for each key role. Assignments may be made on a full- or part-time basis as appropriate. Key roles include program/functional management, quality assurance, security, telecommunications management, data administration, database administration, logistics, financial, systems engineering, test and evaluation, contracts management, and configuration management. For most projects, more than one individual should represent the actual or potential users of the system (that is, program staff) and should be designated by the Program Manager of the program and organization.

Obtaining the Participation of Skilled Individuals is Vital to the Success of the System Project

The skills of the individuals participating in a system project are the single most significant factor for ensuring the success of the project. The SDLC manual is not intended as a substitute for information management skills or experience. While many of the skills required for a system project are discussed in later sections, the required skill combination will vary according to the project. All individuals participating in a system development project are encouraged to obtain assistance from experienced information management professionals.

Documentation of Activity Results and Decisions for Each Phase of the Life Cycle are Essential

Effective communication and coordination of activities throughout the life cycle depend on the complete and accurate documentation of decisions and the events leading up to them. Undocumented or poorly documented events and decisions can cause significant confusion or wasted efforts and can intensify the effect of turnover of project management staff. Activities should not be considered complete, nor decisions made, until there is tangible documentation of the activity or decision. For some large projects, advancement to the next phase cannot commence until the required reviews are completed and approved by senior management.

Data Management is Required Throughout the Life Cycle

The DOJ considers the data processed by systems to be an extremely valuable resource. Accurate data is critical to support organizational missions. The large volumes of data handled by the DOJ (and its components) systems, as well as the increasing trend toward interfacing and sharing data across systems and programs, underscores the importance of data quality. Systems life cycle activities stress the need for clear definition of data, the design and the implementation of automated and manual processes that ensure effective data management.

Each System Project Must Undergo Formal Acceptance

The program sponsor identifies the representative who will be responsible for formally accepting the delivered system at the end of the Implementation Phase. The system is formally accepted by the program sponsor by signing an Implementation Phase Review and Approval Certification along with the developer.

Consultation With Oversight Organizations Aids in the Success of a System Project

A number of DOJ oversight bodies, as well as external organizations, have responsibility for ensuring that information systems activities are performed in accordance with DOJ/Federal guidance and standards and available resources are used effectively. Each project team should work with these organizations, as appropriate, and encourage their participation and support as early as possible in the life cycle to identify and resolve potential issues or sensitivities and thereby avoid major disruptions to the project. Assume all documentation is subject to review by oversight activities.

A System Project may not Proceed Until Resource Availability is Assured

Beginning with the approval of the project, the continuation of a system is contingent on a clear commitment from the program sponsor. This commitment is embodied in the assurance that the necessary resources will be available, not only for the next activity, but as required for the remainder of the life cycle.

Each System Project Should Comply with the DOJ Enterprise Architecture (EA).

The DOJ EA provides a common conceptual framework and a Technical Reference Model (TRM) all DOJ organizations can use to coordinate the acquisition, development, and support of information systems. The TRM standards profile identifies the Government, industry, and de facto standards DOJ organizations will use a guides for acquiring COTS information technology products. These standards and architectural objectives advance DOJ’s ability to implement systems that are more interoperable and maintainable.

Table of Contents | Executive Summary | Chapter 1