Any business, whether digitalized or not, remotely or on site, must adopt efficient project management to gain productivity and profitability. And yet, how many companies have really realized this need? A Wrike study reveals that 66% of employees say they are dissatisfied with the project management process of their business. We must act ! But how do you choose the right method for your company and how to integrate this brand new organization without a hitch? Because making the wrong choice in one of these aspects could have serious consequences (delivery problem, bad atmosphere at work, etc.). Proinfluent supports you by starting by presenting the V cycle . Do you want to know if this management method, which is as classic as it is essential, can meet your needs? Read this article without further ado!
What is the V-cycle?
The “V-Cycle” method initially originated in the industrial sector, then spread widely to IT projects in the 1980s. But its success goes far beyond! Because today, it is management model par excellence , the one taught mainly in schools. Today, this model is contrasted with so-called “agile” methods, which are increasingly popular. But we will come back in detail to the differences between the V cycle and the agile method later!
The V-cycle, or V model in English, is a project management method in two phases, one for each branch of V. We thus find a descending phase , from the need expressed by the customer until the product is produced, and a ascending phase , from the finished product to the verification of its quality. But the two branches of the V also communicate and interact with each other. Thus, each production phase corresponds to a verification and validation phase. This referral game ensures the quality of the finished product for guaranteed customer satisfaction.
The 9 stages of the V-cycle
If the V-cycle is divided into two phases (design and validation), the latter are subdivided into 9 stages. Here they are :
- Analysis of the need : collection of customer needs (desired product, available budget, etc.). This step can also be the subject of a feasibility study;
- Specification : drafting of functional specifications (CDCF) based on the functional specifications of the product. This is a document summarizing the objectives of the project, the stakeholders, the technical constraints, the expectations … This step can be based on a SWOT analysis for a complete external and internal diagnosis of the company;
- General design (also called architectural design or preliminary design): list of the means required to carry out the project. This step makes it possible to understand the technical and financial needs for the realization of the project. If the company identifies a blocking point at this stage, it can, in agreement with the customer, review the specifications;
- Detailed design : detail of the components (steps) essential to the creation of the product.
- Implementation (also called realization or system integration): creation and assembly of all the components to achieve the final product.
- Unit tests : verification of proper operation and compliance with the specifications of each component;
- Integration test : verification of the functioning of the finished product, once all the components have been assembled;
- System tests (also called validation tests): real-life situation to check the conformity of the product with the specifications and the specifications of the product;
- Acceptance test (also called functional recipe): validation of the product in relation to the needs expressed by the customer during step 1. This validation can either be done with a validation body made up of experts, or directly by the customer.
Advantages and disadvantages of the V-cycle
There are real opportunities for companies that use the V-cycle to shape their project management. And for good reason, there are many advantages that the method offers today:
- Easy to set up : the V-cycle requires less employee training than a Scrum method (an agile project management method that requires breaking down and organizing all the tasks);
- Productivity improvement : exchanges with the client upstream of the project and the development of specifications allow stakeholders to have all the necessary information in their possession. In addition, each team member knows exactly what their role is and what they have to do;
- Time saving : a piloting a project from a single block, one thus avoids the daily meetings and the incessant backtracking to redefine the initial specifications. For the V-cycle, only steering meetings to act as a switch from one stage to another are necessary. In addition, this almost military planning minimizes downtime and allows a certain production rate to be respected. Finally, the exhaustive documentation, created during the downward phase, makes it possible to resolve many of the problems encountered during the upward phase. This considerably reduces the need for touch-ups on delivery;
- Money saving : the transparent process of the entire life cycle of the project makes it possible to define a budget envelope from the general design stage. Few surprises are to be expected;
- Improvement of the quality of the delivered product : the entire top-down phase of project design, coupled with the bottom-up phase of verification via tests, ensures the quality of the final product. And for good reason, the value is measurable thanks to precise criteria. This also makes it possible to limit the risks and problems encountered during the realization.
This classic model of project management is not without risk, however. And for good reason, the V-cycle has some drawbacks that can push companies to adopt other management methods.
- Lack of flexibility : the V-shaped cycle is quite rigid, which leaves little room for the unexpected. Thus, it is sometimes complicated to bounce back when teams encounter, despite the estimates, a problem. Likewise, the V-cycle is often used for fairly large projects. In other words, the time between the expression of the need and the recipe for the final product is sometimes long, if not very long. Except that in the meantime the market is changing, the economic context is changing. It is therefore possible that the product no longer meets customer expectations. In short, it does not tolerate changes well due to the “tunnel” effect. However, it is possible to limit this risk by carrying out a PESTEL analysis upstream of the project;
- Lack of communication : each team member has a well-defined role and relies on documentation when encountering a problem. As a result, communication between the different members of the team is almost non-existent;
- Tedious set-up : anticipating all the needs and necessary specifications right from the start by drafting various documents is a rather tedious job, we will not hide it from you.
When to choose the V-cycle for your project management?
Does the V-cycle adapt to all types of projects and all types of businesses? The answer is no ! However, it brings enormous value to multisite or remote structures . In other words, the companies for which the employees are spread over the four corners of France or the world. Why ? Because the V-cycle does not require no daily meeting , as can be the case with other methods. The only steering meetings that act as a transition from one phase to another and that can be carried out remotely therefore allow a fragmented geographical organization.
This management method also remains a relevant solution during projects launched in response to a call for tenders. This also applies to projects that meet quality requirements defined upstream, such as eligibility for Qualiopi training. And for good reason, in this specific case, customers express their needs from the start and very precisely. Are you used to working with changing clients whose needs change systematically throughout a project? Definitely abandon the V-cycle method, much too rigid for this organization!
Another criterion to take into account before you start: the timelessness of the project. Make sure that the project does not risk suffering from a technological and economic lag between the first and the last stage of the V-cycle!
Agile, the alternative project management method
V cycle vs. Agile
The main difference between the V-cycle and the agile method is based on the notions of adaptability and flexibility in the face of changes. And this, because of the organization and the vision of the project which are totally different.
With the V-cycle, you put the project at the center thus adopting an overview from the beginning. Everything is then managed in a single unit, from the expression of the customer’s needs to the delivery of the finished product.
With agile, you put the product at the center. The project is no longer seen as a whole, but by components. In other words, you divide the project into iterations , in sprint . Deliveries are then made at each end of the iterative cycle to the customer so that he can give his opinion and check that everything corresponds to his expectations. In short, not everything is set in stone, and the project is refined according to the problems encountered and the evolutions of the market. This then avoids any excessive risk taking, as during a delivery at the end of the project. Do you realize that you are going straight into the wall? Correct or stop the project whenever you want!
The other big difference between the V-cycle and the agile remains listening and understanding . In fact, in the context of agile management, meetings are much more frequent than in the V cycle. Following these sessions, a report is sent to the manager who takes note of it and informs the client. In other words, there is a real exchange between the different stakeholders, which is not necessarily the case with the V-cycle. But for it to work, all the members of the project must play the game.
Benefits of the agile approach
The first advantage of agile methods is the flexibility it brings in the management of a company’s projects. Short cycles between production and customer validation provide better control over the final product. As a leader, this allows you to deliver faster, because it is iterative. In other words, you reach your breakeven point during the development phase of the project, not at the end .
The second advantage is better risk control. Agile methods give information from the start whether the product is working or not. This way, you don’t waste time, energy or money on a project that is doomed to failure.
And the third advantage is productivity gains encouraged by an “agile” mindset that has a positive impact on all team members. Indeed, agility has a positive influence on the well-being of employees. Not only do they feel considered, but they are also given more responsibility. For your human resources department, this helps to retain your employees and avoid turnover. And for good reason, your employees feel listened to and necessary in the proper development of the project. In addition, they evolve in a company where communication is essential, and that is priceless.
The V-cycle, in conclusion
The V-cycle is a classic project management method that is efficient and easy to implement. Do you want to know if this method is right for you? Let’s do a check in !
- The V-cycle is made up of two phases (descending and ascending) and 9 stages.
- This project management method has many advantages (easy to set up, improved productivity, saved time and money, improved the quality of the final product).
- But it also has some drawbacks such as a lack of flexibility and communication. The setting up of all the documentation part is also quite tedious.
- As a result, the V-cycle is particularly suitable for multi-site structures, projects resulting from a call for tenders and timeless projects.
- If the V method does not suit you for the management of your projects, you can always opt for the so-called agile methods.
Cycle in V, to sum up in 4 questions
Qu'est-ce que le cycle en V ?
The V cycle, or V model in English, is a project management method in two phases, one for each branch of the V. We thus find a descending phase, from the need expressed by the customer to the realization of the product, and an ascending phase, from the finished product to the verification of its quality.
À quoi sert le cycle en V ?
The V-cycle is a project management method that improves team productivity by properly framing the project from the start of the mission. This working method also saves time by defining a clear production schedule and roles for each member of the project team.
Comment choisir entre cycle en V et agile ?
The V-cycle is opposed to so-called agile methods. While the V-cycle is project management, agility is product management. Thus, if a project is managed in its entirety for the V cycle, it is managed by iterations with the agile method.
Quelle est la différence entre le cycle en V et la méthode en cascade ?
The V-cycle is a derivative of the cascade method. Thus, if the cascade method does not allow a return to the previous steps, the V cycle makes it possible to go back thanks to the communication between the two phases. The V-cycle therefore offers a little more flexibility than the cascade method.