PROCESS ASSETS AND THE BODY OF KNOWLEDGE SYSTEM

2.3 PROCESS ASSETS AND THE BODY OF KNOWLEDGE SYSTEM

As discussed in Chapter 1, a process encapsulates an organization's experience in form of successful "recipes." Process descriptions, however, usually contain the sequence of steps to be executed, identify who executes them, specify the entry and exit criteria for major steps, and so on. To facilitate the use of processes, guidelines, checklists, and templates often provide useful support. Together, these materials are called process assets.

Guidelines usually give rules and procedures for executing a step. For example, a step in the project planning process is "Estimate effort." To execute this step, a project manager needs guidelines. Checklists are usually of two types: activity checklists and review checklists. As the name suggests, an activity checklist is a list of the activities that constitute a process step. The purpose of review checklists is to draw the attention of reviewers to the defects that are likely to be found in an output. Templates essentially provide the structure of the document in which the output of a process or step can be captured. Figure 2.1 shows the relationship between the process and these assets.

Figure 2.1. Process assets

graphics/02fig01.gif

The main purpose of these process assets is to facilitate the use of processes by saving effort, thereby improving productivity. For example, using a template to create a document can be much easier and less time-consuming than creating it from scratch. These assets also help improve the quality of the project, first by providing proper guidelines and activity checklists and thereby minimizing the number of defects injected, and then by aiding reviews and thereby catching the injected defects early.

In short, to derive full benefits from a process-oriented approach for project execution, it's crucial to capture and use process assets. At Infosys, all guidelines, checklists, and templates are available online and are regularly updated. Table 2.6 shows a sample of these materials relating to project management.

In addition to these generic assets (which are part of the Infosys quality management system), a project manager may want to reuse some of the outputs of a past project that was similar in some respects. Reusing artifacts can save effort and increase productivity. To promote this goal, process assets from projects can also be collected when projects terminate. The assets that are typically collected, and made available through a separate system, include the following:

Table 2.6. Guidelines, Checklists, and Templates for Project Management

Guidelines

Checklists

Templates/Forms

Effort and schedule estimation guidelines

Requirements analysis checklist

Requirements specification document

Group review procedure

Unit test and system test plan checklists

Unit test plan document

Process tailoring guidelines

Configuration management checklist

Acceptance test plan document

Defect estimation and monitoring guidelines

Status report checklist

Project management plan

Guidelines for measurements and data analysis

Requirement review checklist

Configuration management plan

Risk management guidelines

Functional design review checklist

Metrics analysis report

Guidelines for requirement traceability

Project plan review checklist

Milestone status report

Defect prevention guidelines

Code review checklist for C++

Defect prevention analysis report

         Project management plan

         Configuration management plan

         Schedule

         Standards, checklists, guidelines, templates, and other aids

         Developed tools and related notes

         Training material

         Other documents that can be reused by future projects

Although process assets attempt to encapsulate experience through checklists, templates, and so on, they cannot always capture the diverse forms of knowledge gained in executing projects. Capturing and reusing different forms of knowledge require proper knowledge management, which has become important in knowledge-based organizations such as solution providers and consulting companies. Many organizations have developed systems to effectively leverage the collective experience and knowledge of their employees. At Infosys, in addition to the process database and process assets, a system called the body of knowledge (BOK) is used to encapsulate experience.

The Web-based BOK system has its own keyword- or author-based search facility. The knowledge in BOK, which is primarily in the form of articles, is organized by topics. Key topics include the following:

         Computer and communication services

         Requirements specification

         Build

         Tools

         Methodologies and techniques

         Education and research

         Design

         Reviews, inspection, and testing

         Quality assurance and productivity

         Project management

The BOK system contains posted articles relating to lessons learned and best practices. The entries are general and are not tied to a particular project. Using a template set up for this purpose, any member of the organization can submit an entry for inclusion in the BOK. Each submission undergoes a review, which focuses on its usefulness, generality, changes required, and other characteristics. Editorial control is maintained to ensure that entries meet the quality standards. Financial incentives have been provided for employees to submit information to the BOK, and the department that manages the BOK actively pursues new articles. To further the cause, submission to the BOK is one factor considered during employees' yearly performance appraisal.

 



Software Project Management in Practice
Linux Annoyances for Geeks: Getting the Most Flexible System in the World Just the Way You Want It
ISBN: 0596008015
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2005
Pages: 83
Authors: Michael Jang

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