The next chapter discusses issues in the Construction phase. First, how can you tell if your project has successfully concluded the Elaboration phase and is ready for Construction? How long should an iteration be? What can the team expect in Construction? What are some of the common pitfalls experienced during a project's Construction phase? Developers, project managers, and test professionals will benefit the most from reading the next chapter.
Chapter 10. Construction Iterations: Staying on Target
In the Construction phase, the project's emphasis shifts away from Requirements Elicitation and more toward Implementation. Indeed, the major goal of the Construction phase is to reach the Initial Operational Capability (IOC) milestone. This represents a point where the product has most of the key requirements implemented. The prime features requested by the users are functional and can be demonstrated to the users. At the conclusion of the Construction phase, the product is suitable for beta testing or end user testing. This chapter includes checklists for determining whether the project is ready to move into the Construction phase. This chapter also discusses some of the common mistakes made by projects moving into the Construction phase and what you can expect from your customers and project team.
How Can You Tell if the Project Is Ready for Construction?
A project's readiness for the Construction phase is largely determined by what happened in the Elaboration phase. In some respects, the shift from the Elaboration phase to the Construction phase is subtle. In other respects, it is a major change in emphasis. Simply stated, during Elaboration, risk reduction is emphasized. This task is accomplished through choosing a suitable architecture for the system and testing it by implementing the requirements that affect the architecture. The project is ready to move into the Construction phase after the following two things happen:
Staffing-wise, Construction is the phase in which the bulk of the product funds and resources are consumed. If the project is truly ready for the Construction phase, the team will settle into a smooth, rhythmic pattern, somewhat resembling an assembly line. If the project and team are not ready for Construction, they lose forward momentum while their "burn rate" (the rate at which money and resources are being consumed) is at its highest. This is a difficult situation from which to recover.
Although the architecture is perhaps the most significant risk that must be mitigated during Elaboration, it is by no means the only risk. For example, is the project infrastructure ready to support the Construction phase? Is the entire team in place, and have they received any applicable training? What about the software development environment and associated tools?
Assessing Project Readiness for Construction: Checklists
When the project is believed to be approaching the end of the Elaboration phase, it is useful to hold a group meeting. The people in the following roles should be present:
The key topic of the meeting is to determine whether the objectives and exit criteria of the Elaboration phase have been reached. During the meeting, discuss the items in the following checklists.
Checklist for the Product in Development
Checklist for the Project Environment and Staffing
Checklist for the Customer
These checklists are not exhaustive, but they cover the major areas. The importance of performing a thorough, accurate self-assessment cannot be overemphasized. Resist the temptation to plunge into the Construction phase until you know the status of these issues.