IT software has evolved from a Consultancy company to a Software Vendor company producing custom software. This focus shift, together with the growing complexity and size of typical software projects/products, has led to the need to achieve a better control on the software development process and an effective management of a cross-project library of reusable components. The objective of the experiment is to introduce and institutionalise sound Software Configuration Management practices. The main expected business benefits are: to achieve a better control of the relationship with customers, to be able to provide a more effective maintenance service so expanding the commercial opportunities, to grow a baseline of reusable components so reducing the internal development costs.
The experiment is developed in the context of two consecutive baseline projects in the area of financial trading. The selected baseline projects are representative of the typical projects carried out at IT Software: about 5 months of elapsed time with a project team of 4 - 5 people, they share the same platform and development tools (Windows NT, Visual C++, SQL Server, SNA Server, Power Builder), and involve a similar technology mix (Client/Server architecture, distributed and replicated Database, real-time data feed, secured WAN inter networking, real time data visualisation).
The experiment, that adopted as a guidance the SEI's CMM framework tailored to the needs of a SME, proceeds through the achievement of four major steps, as follows:
1. Ensure the needed precondition: develop an SCM Handbook that defines the Organisational Policy and the Operational Instructions for SCM; provide adequate resources including tools and training on involved people.
2. Experiment SCM practices: establish an SCM Repository and perform SCM activities.
3. Monitor the process improvement: collect measurement data on predefined indicators and quantitatively measure the process improvement.
4. Disseminate the results toward both an internal and an external audience through in-house workshops, public presentations and publishing of the lesson learned on a Web site.
EXPECTED IMPACT AND EXPERIENCE
IT software expects to improve software process capabilities in the area of SCM as a first step toward incremental process improvement that should lead to reach within two year the Capability Maturity level 2 and the ISO 9000 certification. Also, the success of this experience will raise the awareness that quality issues must be extended from the single professional to the organisational process and will increase employee motivation due to the recognition of higher quality and productivity of their work. From the business point of view, IT Software expects a bottom line cost saving by improving software reuse and reducing the day-to-day effort spent dealing with software changes and configuration management activities without an effective SCM strategy.