Lifecycle Characteristics

Adaptive Software Development Lifecycle has six basic characteristics −

  • Mission focused
  • Feature based
  • Iterative
  • Time-boxed
  • Risk driven
  • Change tolerant

In this chapter, you will understand these six characteristics of Adaptive Software Development.


For many projects, the overall mission that guides the team is well articulated, though the requirements may be uncertain at the beginning of the project. Mission statements act as guides that encourage exploration in the beginning but have a narrow focus over the course of a project. A mission provides boundaries rather than a fixed destination. Mission statements and the discussions that result in those statements provide direction and criteria for making critical project tradeoff decisions.

Without a clear mission and a constant mission refinement practice, iterative lifecycles become oscillating lifecycles, swinging back and forth with no progress in the development.


The Adaptive Software Development Lifecycle is based on application features and not on tasks. Features are the functionality that are developed during an iteration based on the customer’s priorities.

Features can evolve over several iterations when the customers provide feedback.

The application features that provide direct results to the customer after implementation are primary. A customer-oriented document such as a user manual is also considered as a feature. The other documents such as the data model, even if defined as deliverables are always secondary.


The Adaptive Software Development Lifecycle is iterative and focuses on frequent releases in order to obtain feedback, assimilate the resulting learning and setting the right direction for further development.


In Adaptive Software Development Lifecycle, the iterations are time-boxed. However, one should remember that time-boxing in Adaptive Software Development is not about time deadlines. It should not be used to make the team work for long hours challenging a collaborative environment or for compromising on the quality of the deliverables.

In Adaptive Software Development, time-boxing is considered as a direction for focusing and forcing hard tradeoff decisions as and when required. In an uncertain environment, in which change rates are high, there needs to be a periodic forcing function such as a timebox to get the work finished.


In Adaptive Software Development, the iterations are driven by identifying and evaluating the critical risks.


Adaptive Software Development is change-tolerant, viewing change as the ability to incorporate competitive advantage, but not as a problem for development.