SSADM (Structured Systems Analysis & Design Method) is a widely-used computer application development method in the UK, where its use is often specified as a requirement for government computing projects. It is increasingly being adopted by the public sector in Europe. SSADM is in the public domain, and is formally specified in British Standard BS7738.
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SSADM divides an application development project into modules, stages, steps, and tasks, and provides a framework for describing projects in a fashion suited to managing the project. SSADM's objectives are to:
- Improve project management & control
- Make more effective use of experienced and inexperienced developmentstaff
- Develop better quality systems
- Make projects resilient to the loss of staff
- Enable projects to be supported by computer-based tools such as computer-aided software engineering systems
- Establish a framework for good communications between participants in a project
SSADM covers those aspects of the life-cycle of a system from the feasibility study stage to the production of a physical design; it is generally used in conjunction with other methods, such as PRINCE, which is concerned with the broader aspects of project management.
In detail, SSADM sets out a cascade or waterfall view of systems development, in which there are a series of steps, each of which leads to the next step. (This might be contrasted with the rapid application development - RAD - method, which pre-supposes a need to conduct steps in parallel.). SSADM's steps, or stages, are:
- Investigation of the current environment
- Business systems options
- Definition of requirements
- Technical system options
- Logical design
- Physical design
For each stage, SSADM sets out a series of techniques and procedures, and conventions for recording and communicating information pertaining to these - both in textual and diagramatic form. SSADM is a very comprehensive model, and a characteristic of the method is that projects may use only those elements of SSADM appropriate to the project. SSADM is supported by a number of CASE tool providers.