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Sunday, September 9, 2007

What is the Rational Unified Process (RUP) ?

To simplify and make the strategy of iterative software development, the rational software corporation came up with an iterative software development process framework, now popularly known as the rational unified process or RUP. The rational software corporation has been a division of IBM since 2003. RUP has been developed as a process framework that is adaptable rather than being a rigid perspective process. One of the advantages of this process is that development organizations have the freedom to tailor it for their needs. The required elements of the process can be selected by the software projects teams as they think is appropriate. 
The product comes with many sample artifacts and a number of detailed descriptions for a number of activities that are supported by the RUP. It has been included as a part of the IBM’s RMC (rational method composer) allowing the easy customization of the software development process. The RUP lays down six best practices which evolved by the combination of the experience of various companies. These six best practices are:
Ø  Iterative development driven by risk. Risk is the primary iteration driver.
Ø  Management of requirements
Ø  Employment of component based architecture
Ø  Visually modeling the software.
Ø  Verifying the quality of the product continuously.
Ø  Controlling the changes
All these practices are employed by rational corporation for the development of their products. They are even used by its members for helping the customers in making improvements to the predictability and the quality of the development efforts. The RUP can be tailored for guiding the software development. It comes with all the tools that are used for automating the application of the RUP. It also offers services for accelerating the process’ and its tools’ adoption. All these three things form a strategic tripod for the implementation of RUP. The foundation of the process is based up on certain building blocks and elements which describe the thing that has to be produced and how it is to be produced and what are the requirements. Following are the three main building blocks:
Ø  Roles: This defines the skills required and who should take what responsibilities and has which competencies.
Ø  Work products: This represents the result of an activity. The result includes all the models and the documents produced during the process.
Ø  Tasks: The work assigned to the roles is described by this element. The work should be such that it should provide a meaningful result.
Many iterations might be carried out. In each iteration the tasks are divided in to a total of 9 categories:

Ø  Six disciplines of engineering:
-          Business modeling
-          Analysis and design
-          Requirements
-          Test
-          Implementation
-          deployment
Ø  Rest are supporting disciplines:
-          environment
-          configuration and change management
-          project management

There is also a tool that you can use for configuring, authoring and viewing the processes. Processes can even be published. Certification for RUP i.e., the IBM certified solution designer – rational unified process 7.0 was released in the year of 2007. The earlier version was the IBM rational certified specialist – rational unified process. The new version of the exam focuses on both the RUP content and the process structure elements. For passing this certification examination, the test you have to take is the test 839: rational unified process v7.0 in which you are given 52 questions to be done in 75 minutes.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Factors in making a project successful - some quick factors

Unpredictable, late, over budget projects are not something very uncommon. In some cases the project even fails before it delivers even one program. In this article we discuss about some success factors that are crucial for a successful project. Even though we have gone through 4 programming languages generations, 3 development paradigms, we are still not capable of transforming our ideas in to successful software. The number of software project failures has risen rapidly since recent years. No magic goes in to successful management of software development. But there are some factors that make it better:  Complexity management: There are several characteristics of software that make the management of the development process very complicated and thus difficult. First, the systems that are based up on software are quite complex. Secondly computing itself is a complex thing. The problem of mastering it is the basic problem. The software developers have to work out such complex problems and so no doubt they are very intelligent people and complex individuals in themselves. This complicates their management also. On top of that if the developers are trying to target user requirements, all the management issues mix up. One study has shown an improvement in the completion rate of the software if the complexity is lower. Companies are now adopting the projects that are small and thus easy to manage rather than taking up large projects, or breaking up larger ones into smaller pieces.  Starting on the right side: It is difficult to develop successful software when the development efforts are not proper just like you cannot grow strong plants in soil that is weak. Below we list some failure symptoms out which some are predetermined before the development starts: - A lack of understanding of the users’ needs. - Poorly defined scope of the project. - Changes in the technology chosen for development. - Changes in the business needs. - Setting unrealistic deadlines. - Resistant users - Lack of sponsorship. - Lack of appropriate skills - Ignorance towards best practices. For avoiding this we should have objectives that can be really achieved and the expectations that can really come true. Your team should consist of people with proper skills required for the job. Adequate resources must be given to the team to meet their requirements.  Momentum maintenance: Now that you have a strong team, a good working environment, good resources etc. you can gain the momentum. Next you need to keep increasing this momentum. Having a high momentum is quite easy but taking it further from here is very difficult. It keeps changing with the course of development. Your focus should be keeping the attrition low, monitoring quality early and managing the product more.  Progress tracking: The nature of the software is intangible i.e., it cannot be physically touched or measured. If you don’t know what mistakes you are making while doing the project, it is quite possible that you’ll keep repeating them.  Smart decision making: Difference between the project failures and successful projects comes from making smart decisions. It is often not difficult to analyze whether a decision is good or bad before you implement it. Bad decisions are often made while selecting what technologies are to be used. It may happen that you might not be able to finish your project and the platform your project supports goes away. Before picking up a technology, its analysis must be done and you should if there is a market for it.  Post – mortem analysis: Successful companies analyze the project to learn from their mistakes. If this not done, the same mistakes will be repeated again and again.

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