Frequently asked questions

If you don’t see your question answered or would like more clarification on an existing question please contact us.

What is KDL's Software Development Lifecycle?

KDL's Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) refers to a methodology with clearly defined processes for creating high-quality software. In detail, the SDLC methodology focuses on the following project phases of software development with more detailed steps within those phases.

Project phases

  1. Pre-project
  2. Active
  3. Maintained
  • Initial contact

    Tell us as much as you can about your project idea, even if it’s at an early stage.

    Contact us

  • Internal assessment

    Do the project’s idea, time frame and strategic fit make it a good match for KDL?

  • Requirements assessment

    An in-depth discussion to define requirements, if feasible, leading to a Product Quote.

  • Funding application

    The Product Quote will have most information you need. We can help write and check relevant sections.

    (Skip this step if funding is available.)

  • Kick off

    Once funding is confirmed, we’ll plan how to work together and what to focus on first.

  • Evolutionary development

    The actual development. Dividing the project into increments, we decide at the end of each which requirements we'll focus on in the next increment.

  • Deployment

    We aim to deploy a portion of the project after each increment.

    This cycles with Evolutionary Development, moving back and forth between stages.

  • Final release

    Final changes and testing, and confirming post-project support. We’ll agree a final release date and any support for launch activities.

  • Post project

    We plan and cost for a period of hosting and maintenance from the start.

    Archiving and sustainability approach

What kind of projects does KDL take on?

KDL works on various kinds of projects where the common thread is a need for digital outputs to present scholarly research or digital methods to enable scholarly research on textual, image and multi-modal datasets (see the projects directory). Our work encompasses data models, data structures, data processing (including machine learning and AI, Natural Language Processing, code reviews), a variety of interfaces for data analysis, interpretation and publication (including data visualization, storytelling, digital maps, digital editions), and XR applications.

How should I contact KDL about my proposed project?

New project ideas appear from a range of different sources, including one-to-one relationships developed between KDL team members and colleagues at King's College London and beyond. If you think someone in KDL might be particularly interested in your project idea, feel free to drop them a line; however it is usually easier to reach us via the contact forms. We will usually get back to you within a week.

How much lead time does KDL need before a funding application deadline?

KDL always welcomes new ideas for involvement in prospective projects. If your project idea involves a funding application, then it is best to contact KDL at least 3 months prior to the deadline. This will allow us time to discuss your idea and assess its feasibility (see also following question). That said, we do understand that some funding calls come out at short notice, or the need for a digital output may become apparent later in the application process. If your deadline is short or you have some budget to spend quickly, please flag this and we will do what we can to work with you.

How does KDL decide whether to take on a project?

We follow a 2-phase decision making process in which we decide if we can accept a new project in our portfolio. Firstly, we discuss all project proposals in our weekly project pipeline meeting to review if it fits within our research strategy, expertise and resource capacity. This first look often raises questions and points which need clarification, and it is common for KDL to meet with you to discuss them. We then review the project a second time at our weekly project planning meeting, after which we either confirm whether we can work on your project proposal or give you a timeline for an answer, if there are any outstanding questions. If you are a potential partner external to the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at King’s College London, we will make sure to discuss your proposal with faculty leadership and management prior to confirm our involvement (we have regular catch up which will facilitate this and notify you promptly of any issues).

What can I do to help the decision-making process?

When you first contact KDL please briefly tell us what the project is about, why it is important, who is involved, and (if applicable) whether you’d like a KDL team member to act as co-Investigator and when you plan to submit a funding application. It is also helpful for KDL to know about the likely nature, format, and quantity of datasets and other material you intend to use in the project. This is especially true if some or all of the datasets and other materials have already been collected / worked on. Details about the funding source and budget are also useful, if they are available.

What happens after KDL takes on a project?

KDL undertakes a Feasibility Assessment to determine whether the project as proposed looks feasible with respect to the intended budget and timeline. We will define the methodological and technical requirements of the project with you, establishing for each its scope and relative priority (see What is MoSCoW prioritization?), and the nature of KDL involvement. Based on the requirements we will consider various aspects of KDL’s involvement over the project life cycle: the likely technical solution; development and management approaches; research contribution; delivery plan; hosting and maintenance as well as archiving and sustainability plans. The results of these discussions and considerations are recorded in an internal Feasibility Assessment document which also sets out the estimated costs of KDL involvement including management and infrastructure charges as appropriate. The document undergoes internal review and revision by KDL staff, and this process often helps us rethink and reformulate aspects of the project plan with you. We will then extract a version of that assessment to share with you in the form of a Product Quote (see How does KDL help with a funding application?) to inform your project budget and case of support for a funding application when applicable. In very rare instances we may conclude we would not be able to satisfactorily deliver the project as you would like and would then suggest other possible teams for you to contact.

What is ‘MoSCoW’ prioritization?

This is an industry-standard approach to prioritizing project requirements. Each requirement is assigned to one of the following four categories: Must Have, Should Have, Could Have, and Won't Have (this time). Identifying the Must Haves helps the project focus on delivering the most important requirements, and the decreasing levels of priority with Should and Could Haves build in contingency to the overall delivery timetable. Won’t Have (this time) is useful both for clarifying project scope and for capturing intentions for possible future project phases. For more information on how KDL uses MoSCoW see our Software Development Life Cycle for Research Software Engineering wiki.

How does KDL determine its costs for partners and funders?

The different perspectives and combined experience the team brings to proposal drafting and reviewing helps us produce reliable estimates of the number of work days needed to meet each requirement and then the cost is calculated using the appropriate day rate for the funding context. KDL is a TRAC-listed research facility, meaning we have set “access charges” based on the TRAC costing methodology approved by UKRI. For KDL, the main cost is for staff time, so the main access charge is our day rate. This varies by funder and is calculated annually to reflect the costs involved in running the Lab. For projects costed from 2 February 2024, KDL’s day rate is £770-£914.55. The final estimate will also include the cost associated with use of KDL server infrastructure, if applicable, as well as costs for hosting and maintaining a digital output beyond its funded period.

How does KDL help with a funding application?

Upon successful Feasibility Assessment KDL will give you a Product Quote. This document has the same information as the Feasibility Assessment but is set out as a formal agreement which will be signed by you and KDL. The Product Quote will help you write your case for support, budget, and workplan.

If agreed in advance, KDL may also contribute to data management plans or equivalent technical documentation required by the relevant funding scheme.

My project is funded and KDL is ready to start what happens next?

Your project will have a dedicated Solution Development Team (SDT) drawn from KDL staff. This core team usually comprises a research software analyst, a research software developer, and a research software UI/UX designer. The analyst leads the KDL side of the project, coordinating the work of the development team and handling associated communications and internal documentation. In addition to the SDT, you will also have dealings with the KDL Project Manager (who acts as main contact for process-oriented queries, team workflow planning across projects as well as first point of escalation) and the KDL Lab Manager who handles all the financial aspects as well the post-funding life of the project's digital outputs.

A kickoff meeting with the SDT and Project Manager will explain KDL's incremental development process and documentation and will plan initial increments and deliverables.

What happens to my project's digital outputs when the funded period ends?

KDL offers the option of maintaining relevant project components under a costed Service Level Agreement (SLA). Usually, the SLA is costed at pre-project phase as part of the Product Quote (see How does KDL help with a funding application?), and an email is sent out to request signatures prior to project final release. For SLA renewals partners are usually contacted 6-months before it expires. We offer agreements of variable durations depending on project age, infrastructure requirements, and Principal Investigator preference but our standard SLA duration is five years. Typically, an SLA with KDL includes Support and Troubleshoot (e.g., issues with hosting and CMS) as well as periodic renewals and updates (e.g., hosting, licenses, frameworks, libraries).

Other options for archiving and sustainability are available and can be explored on a case-by-case basis (see more details on our archiving and sustainability approach).

Does KDL provide hosting and maintenance services for externally developed digital resources?

No, but if you’re unsure whether we can help, please contact us, and we’ll point you in the right direction.