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    A Pragmatic approach to Software Process: UP + Critical Chain; Applied to a Retro-Engineering fixed-price project

A Pragmatic approach to Software Process: UP + Critical Chain; Applied to a Retro-Engineering fixed-price project

Software Process is great topic for endless conversations (and battles) among IT professionals. Every now and then, a new process is arriving on the market that is introduced as the new marvel of the world, the new silver bullet, thanks to which every software project is going to be a never seen before success. We can name a few:

Prince 2 (although this one is not really an IT project process)
Unified Process
Agile family

eXtreme Programing
DSDM (Dynamic systems development method)

During our decades of projects experiences, we have encountered many of these processes, used on various projects and in various circumstances. Today, I would like to talk about a project during which we have used a combination of a “proper” (in the sense of created with this purpose) software development process and a more generic project management approach. The two processes are:

The Unified Process (also known as Rational Unified Process, before IBM bought Rational) created initially by Ivar Jacobson, Grady Booch and James Rumbaugh.
Critical Chain, created by Eliyahu Goldratt

The Unified Process
The Unified process is not only a process but more generally it is a framework that has been created for being tailored for each project. It is the first iterative and incremental framework that has been applied widely in the industry.

It is composed globally of four Phases, each Phase being composed of Activities.

One of the most interesting elements is the Phases as they describe periods of the project during which the objectives are different. The first phase, the Inception is about scoping the project, identifying a possible architecture and listing the risks to come. Then comes the Elaboration phase, mostly about validating an architecture, [...]

Time for even better projects in the Games Industry

The UK government, in its attempt to save money (like almost all European government) has scrapped the Games industry tax relief. Clearly, the industry is in shock and the different interviews available online from people representing the Games are using words such as betrayal. It is not for me to judge. Britain’s studios have produced some of the world’s biggest selling games titles for over 15 years.
Personally, I have played more games during the recession than at any point in my life. A good game eases the economic misery and they are still fantastic value for money. I’ll be continuing my unwavering support of the UK’s creative industries. We pack a big punch for a small island – but we all know that!
Anyway, my point here is that the time has come for more efficiency, better projects, risk reduction, etc. But the Games industry is not precisely working like most other industries. It has strong specificities that make applying traditional recipes for software efficiency more difficult. It also has very strong structural reasons to have disturbed human dynamics such as the ones I talk about in other articles of this blog. Communication of clear information between people and between sub-teams is a permanent challenge. Managing expectation properly between Producers and Studios is always challenging. Cross-cultural communication is a daily reality with all its difficulties. Last but not least, the transition of the industry from Waterfall to Agile processes such as Scrum is not an easy move (it’s never been easy for any industry anyway).
To contribute my effort in support of the industry I will be speaking at the DEVELOP Conference in Brighton next month (13-15 July 2010) and taking out a [...]