The V cycle is a well-known organization method originating from the heavy industry. Adapted to the IT sector in the 80s and designed to replace the waterfall cycle, this method is still used in IT project development, even though it has several derivatives. Well adjusted to the sharing of tasks between customers and service providers, and perfectly defining partnership roles, the V cycle also allows to define a mixed framework consisting of offshore and local elements. By implementing successive versions, the cycle is restarted, thus offering a more and more complete product.
Principle and Different Stages
The development of an application can be divided into three large parts (each of which can in turn be divided into sub-parts), regardless of the method being used:
- Defining the need – design
- Development – encoding
- Validation – testing
In concrete terms, this translates into the definition and validation of test cases during the software design stage (specifications + technical design). What differs among the different methods is the content and organization of these different activities. The V cycle principle consists in limiting the number of returns to previous phases, thus avoiding to resume the specifications and development once the testing has been performed.
The main benefit of the V cycle is that it requires to formalize product features and project activities. Thus, it enables the customer and service provider to carefully plan the project and ask the right questions at the beginning.
Risks and Solutions
- The lack of flexibility: each stage must be completed (specifications, design, development etc.) before going to the next one. Each stage will last longer and cost more; in this case, a Scrum methodology is more appropriate.
- Product expiry date: for large projects which require several years to be developed, the classical V cycle is to be avoided. We recommend the setup of a W cycle or a spiral cycle.
- The search for the ideal: when using this cycle, attention must be paid to the time spent on the project starting phase. The developed solution must meet customer needs. Pentalog High Tech assists you and offers you advice in the project specifications phase.
Who is this type of organization addressed to?
This type of organization, in its most narrow definition, is mainly addressed to companies which have experience in outsourcing their IT projects that do not exceed 18 months on the whole. This allows to properly prepare the phases before development and to go through each phase without demanding a major investment from the customer. We also recommend this methodology for small projects which require less than six months to be completed. For projects of this size, it is often easier to validate the complete specifications of the application right from the beginning, as each party has a complete vision of the application to be developed. For projects which do not meet these criteria, we suggest using derived methods like the spiral cycle, the iterative or semi-iterative cycle or the W cycle.
The choice of the methodology to be used depends on several factors:
- The size of the project and expected deadline
- The size of the company in terms of availability and the profile of customer contacts
- The maturity of the need or the level of specifications
- The customer's experience in outsourcing IT projects