Deliverables, Process and StandardsΒΆ

date:2005-09-27 01:22:49
category:Methodology for Non-Programmers

Software development evolves through four phases:

  1. Identification of a problem and inception of a project to implement a solution.
  2. Elaboration (analysis) of that problem to determine the most effective solution.
  3. Design of software to implement that solution.
  4. Implementation of the solution; installing and configuring software, training, and everything that goes with creating a software product.

Development proceeds more or less sequentially through these phases. Where possible, iteration should be confined to the first two. Problem identification and elaboration, being discovery exercises, require careful control of scope. This is sometimes accomplished by starting, pruning back the domain of possible problems, and restarting. There are not a lot of opportunities for parallelism until discovery is complete.

The goal is successful deployment of software that creates value for the users. The purpose of producing intermediate documents is to steer toward that goal in spite of the often overwhelming complexity of the software that will get built.

Several documents collect information on the process and serve as specification for future steps of that process. A methodology provides guidance on tasks that will create the various documents and deliverables. A methodology should also provide techniques for accomplishing the tasks.

This BLOG describes five recommended deliverables with some notes on content, process and standards. Each of these are independent documents. However, some elements may be derived out of a strict linear sequence. For example, when developing the architecture, there will be both architectural and design implications; this may lead to creating some preliminary sections of the design document while developing the architecture.

The documents are:

  1. Scope or**Problem** . This is a clear, complete statement of the context, problem and constraints on any candidate solution. This is produced during project inception. It is the “charter” that describes what constitutes success by defining the problem.
  2. Requirements . [link ] This is the result of problem elaboration or analysis. This is the use case view and analysis versions of the other views; they are necessarily incomplete and preliminary.
  3. Architecture . [link ] This is the high-level description of a solution. Where the solution requires a novel architecture, this will be a complex document. If the solution adds application software to an existing architecture, this will be a very simple document.
  4. Design . [link ] This is the description of components to be built.
  5. Implementation [link ]**** and**Deployment** [link ]. This document describes packaging of components and their final deployment for value-creating work.

Each of these documents are developed more or less independently and sequentially. There is no easy way to start design or implementation until the requirements and architecture are complete. Any attempt will typically burn up labor hours that will be invalidated by changes to the requirements.

Each of these documents looks at the system from five distinct points of view. The first phases (Inception and Elaboration) merely outline these views. The architecture, design and implementation documents add detail to this structure. They call this the 4+1 model because 4 views are technical and one is non-technical. [link ] [link ] [link ]

  • Use Case View - what the interactions are that create value. A use case defines how an actor interacts with the system to create business value. This is the who, when and why of the system.
  • Logical or Static View - structure of the information. The data side of “data processing”.
  • Functional or Dynamic View - the states and activities. The processing side of “data processing”.
  • Component View - the technology stack, the hardware and software components that build out the solution. The “Architecture”. This is the how of the system.
  • Deployment View - the installation on specific servers with specific IP addresses. This is the where of the system.

These are not, of course, distinct in any way. Changing one changes the others. Indeed, merely attempting to write from one POV is almost impossible, since you have to fill in functional aspects to support the data model (triggers, constraints, etc.) as much as you need a data model to explain the functionality of the system.

This overview omits project management concerns. For example, the strategies for team communication, work procedures, development environment setup, etc. are not covered at all in this document. Nor does this approach include any kind of formal quality management plan. This is just enough documentation to successfully craft working software.

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