Affiliated Organization

Case Western Reserve University, USA


The idea of iteration is inherent to systems analysis and design methodologies and practices. In this essay we explore the notion of iteration, and distinguish two dimensions of iteration: iterations inherent in cognitive processes and iterations over representational artifacts. Cognitive iterations can be concerned with the design; the design process; or stages within the design process. Representational artifacts can take the form of documentation or the software code itself. We identify and discuss the promise of “iterative development” and compare this promise to empirical findings on the effects of iterative methods. The findings are generally consistent with expected outcomes. We conclude with an observation that the difference between “iterative development” and more traditional methodologies lies not in the presence of iteration, but in the locus of visibility and control, and the associated timing and granularity.