synchronize-and-stabilize (sync-and-stabilize)

Synchronize-and-stabilize (sometimes just called sync-and-stabilize) is a systems development life cycle model in which teams work in parallel on individual application modules, frequently synchronizing their code with that of other teams, and debugging (stabilizing) code regularly throughout the development process. The sync-and-stabilize model offers advantages over the older waterfall model, which is strictly sequential in nature. Because sync-and-stabilize development allows for changes at any point in the process, it can be flexible, and more easily able to respond to market requirement changes.

The sync-and-stabilize approach was created by David Yoffie of Harvard University and Michael Cusumano of MIT. Cusumano and Yoffie studied commonalities between processes Microsoft used in developing Internet Explorer and those Netscape Communications Corp. used in developing Netscape Communicator. The researchers found that, among other similarities, both companies compiled all the project code nightly. They both also brought together all the components and tried to stabilize code before it was released. Cusumano and Yoffie integrated the successful common strategies of the two projects into the sync-and-stabilize model.

At a recent XML Web Services One conference, Cusumano cited as-yet unpublished research findings indicating that a majority of development projects follow the sync-and-stabilize approach.

This was last updated in September 2005

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