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Initiation and scope definition

The focus of this set of activities is on the effective determination of software requirements via various elicitation methods and the assessment of the project’s feasibility from a variety of standpoints. Once feasibility has been established, the remaining task within this process is the specification of requirements validation and change procedures.

Determination and negotiation of requirements

Software requirement methods for requirements elicitation (for example, observation), analysis (for example, data modeling, use-case modeling), specification, and validation (for example, prototyping) must be selected and applied, taking into account the various stakeholder perspectives. This leads to the determination of project scope, objectives, and constraints. This is always an important activity, as it sets the visible boundaries for the set of tasks being undertaken, and is particularly so where the novelty of the undertaking is high.

Feasibility analysis

Software engineers must be assured that adequate capability and resources are available in the form of people, expertise, facilities, infrastructure, and support (either internally or externally) to ensure that the project can be successfully completed in a timely and cost-effective manner (using, for example, a requirement-capability matrix). This often requires some “ballpark” estimation of effort and cost based on appropriate methods (for example, expert-informed analogy techniques).

Process for the review and revision of requirements

Given the inevitability of change, it is vital that agreement among stakeholders is reached at this early point as to the means by which scope and requirements are to be reviewed and revised (for example, via agreed change management procedures). This clearly implies that scope and requirements will not be “set in stone” but can and should be revisited at predetermined points as the process unfolds (for example, at design reviews, management reviews). If changes are accepted, then some form of traceability analysis and risk analysis should be used to ascertain the impact of those changes. A managed-change approach should also be useful when it comes time to review the outcome of the project, as the scope and requirements should form the basis for the evaluation of success.

Software project planning

The iterative planning process is informed by the scope and requirements and by the establishment of feasibility. At this point, software life cycle processes are evaluated and the most appropriate (given the nature of the project, its degree of novelty, its functional and technical complexity, its quality requirements, and so on) is selected. Where relevant, the project itself is then planned in the form of a hierarchical decomposition of tasks, the associated deliverables of each task are specified and characterized in terms of quality and other attributes in line with stated requirements, and detailed effort, schedule, and cost estimation is undertaken. Resources are then allocated to tasks so as to optimize personnel productivity (at individual, team, and organizational levels), equipment and materials utilization, and adherence to schedule. Detailed risk management is undertaken and the “risk profile” of the project is discussed among, and accepted by, all relevant stakeholders. Comprehensive software quality management processes are determined as part of the planning process in the form of procedures and responsibilities for software quality assurance, verification and validation, reviews, and audits. As an iterative process, it is vital that the processes and responsibilities for ongoing plan management, review, and revision are also clearly stated and agreed.

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Source:  OpenStax, Software engineering. OpenStax CNX. Jul 29, 2009 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10790/1.1
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