A best practice approach to process

Process optimisation can cut the amount of reworking needed during software development, says Borland VP Mike Epner

Process and technology can’t now be separated, says Mike Epner, vice president of process optimisation at Borland.

Epner was formerly president of process optimisation firm TeraQuest in Austin, Texas and took up his role at Borland when Borland bought TeraQuest earlier this year.

“Supply chain is a good example of why you can’t separate process from technology, and software development is going the same way,” he says.

“In the average development shop, 40% of what is done is reworking. We’ve introduced a lifecycle approach that cuts rework in half.”

He says its about overall risk management. “Best practices have been around for more than 10 years, but what we’re doing is not about writing a document; rather, it’s on an on-going basis and about using technology for traceability, so changes are visible to all in an organisation.

“Risk is about where you are coming from. You next have to look at the state of the business and use risk management to position mitigation strategies to prevent a project being affected.”

Borland's purchase of TeraQuest was to add software delivery optimisation to its application lifecycle management strategy, building into its Caliber software processes and templates around best practice.

TeraQuest brought templates, training courses and consultancy to the mix.

Caliber, which is a requirements management tool, has also had estimation capability embedded, through Borland's purchase of EstimatePro.

Estimation is one of the most difficult parts of project management. The Standish Group recently said that IT executives first got their best estimate then multiplied it by two and a half to get the most likely end cost.

In essence, good data is needed up front but is not usually available until too late in the project to make a difference.

Epner says successful software project estimation and planning "is based on credible corporate expectation setting, where software development organisations can realistically state, up front, the necessary efforts in time human and technology resources, and the budget needed for successful project completion."

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