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Practising Best Practises in Your Software Development Process


Software practices. Do you know what they are? Do you employ them in your everyday development? Whether you do or you don't, Simon outlines the practices needed to achieve a development process model.

Author Info:
By: Simon White
Rating: 4 stars4 stars4 stars4 stars4 stars / 39
October 28, 2003
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
  1. · Practising Best Practises in Your Software Development Process
  2. · What is a Software Development Process?
  3. · Why You Need a Process
  4. · Why a Learning Organisation is Not Enough
  5. · The Knowing-Doing Gap
  6. · Bridging the Knowing-Doing Gap in Software Development
  7. · Conclusion

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Practising Best Practises in Your Software Development Process - What is a Software Development Process?
(Page 2 of 7 )

It cannot be stated too often that if you are developing software, you need a process. By process, I mean a guideline description of a repeatable procedure that both describes and prescribes the way that your organisation develops software. It describes the process because the process that works best for your organisation is different to the process that works best for another organisation. So the process says something about how your organisation works. It prescribes the way that your organisation develops software because it is the process that will be applied to the development of future projects

It is not sufficient just to say that the process is simply:

Requirements->
  Design->
    Implementation->
      Testing->
        Documentation->
          Maintenance

as this leaves far too many questions open to interpretation by customers, managers, and developers alike. For example, what kinds of requirements are gathered in the first phase? How detailed is this analysis? Does the design phase wait until the requirements phase is completed before it starts? How is the usability of the end-product ensured? How is the assessment of usability represented in the phases given above?

Of course, every organisation will have its own answers to these and other questions. The answers to such questions should be recorded in some sort of a document; say a process manual. Then, if a potential customer asks the (almost inevitable) question "How do you develop software?", you can then demonstrate not only that you have thought about it, but that you have a well documented, mature process that works for you.

Different organisations have different requirements for their processes, so there is not one "correct" process. That's why, in this document, I can't tell you what your process should be. In a sense, it doesn't really matter what your process is, as long as you are confident that it works for you. To be more precise, all the stakeholders in the process need to be confident that it will help them to achieve their goals. In bespoke development projects, the customer needs to respect that this process is the one that best suits your organisation, people, and products. The managers in your organisation need to believe that it works for them, so that they continually refer to the process and do not allow the project to be diverted. The developers also need to believe in the process so that they can work together as a team, respecting the boundaries between different parts of the process and the implications of the process on their roles in the overall development.

A process can be lightweight to offer flexibility and minimal overhead to a small development team, or it can be more heavyweight to provide firmer expectations of the way that the project will be run.


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