Software Process Improvement and Metrics Project Abstract

Project Background

The client was a major bank’s Information Systems (IS) unit with 800 staff members responsible for development and support of operation critical software applications, including some that were sold commercially as well as used internally. TBI was engaged to assist the organization in its efforts to improve its software delivery process capability and to implement software metrics.

Problem Summary

Constant change in both the overall business environment and in the bank’s own
organizational structure put pressure on IS to improve the efficiency of its software delivery at the same time that this was made more difficult due to increased volatility in business requirements. There was also pressure to “prove” IS value to the business. Additionally, the bank was losing IS personnel to other employers and needed to-find ways to improve employee retention.

The client had established a Process Improvement and Metrics Steering Committee that consisted of software project managers and mid-level IS management. Steering Committee members had little experience in metrics or process improvement analysis so didn’t know where to begin. TBI was engaged to work with the Steering Committee to establish the key objectives for software process improvement and metrics implementation and then to help them to organize and execute an action plan.

TBI’s Approach

TBI met with Steering Committee and began working with its members to gather and analyze information on the current status of software metrics in the organization, on IS management goals for the Steering Committee, and on the overall IT objectives and strategies for the bank. Metrics reporting methods for measurement already in place were also part of the review. Interviews were conducted with senior IT and business management to gain their perspectives. Presentations on existing metrics processes, software and standards, and different metrics formats, project management methodologies reporting (e.g., print, intranet) in use were arranged and conducted for the benefit of the entire team.

TBI quickly identified and verified the goals for the engagement and initiated a two-phase project plan. In Phase One, TBI’s approach employed two elements of its standardized benchmarking processes, a human resources management and motivation benchmarking analysis (the Job Diagnostic Study-IT), and a software development benchmarking analysis that focuses on both quality and productivity. Two other survey measures were also employed, one focusing on software requirements uncertainty, the other on software quality. The methodology was
recommended by TBI as the quickest means of introducing the organization to software metrics, providing a standard structure for project data collection and analysis, and identifying opportunities for software process improvement.

In Phase Two, TBI assisted the organization in specifying metrics for ongoing tracking which could help to answer key business questions facing them. We also worked with them to develop and establish regular reporting formats for both operational and strategic software metrics, using the bank’s Intranet web site.

Successful Business Solutions

The client received:

  • A structure for software project tracking of project attributes, resource and quality results.
  • An analysis of IS human resource management issues and strategies for improving employee motivation and retention, by job type and organizational unit.
  • An analysis of software delivery process strengths and opportunities for improvement.
  • A strategy for managing software requirements uncertainty.
  • An analysis of common software quality issues.
  • Specifications of a core set of software metrics for on-going operational tracking and analysis.
  • Specification of a set of higher-level software metrics for communication with management about software quality and productivity trends.
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