Selecting Software Engineering Tasks


In order to develop a project schedule, a task set must be distributed on the project time line. The task set will vary depending upon the project type and the degree of rigor. Each of the project types may be approached using a process model that is linear sequential, iterative (e.g., the prototyping or incremental models), or evolutionary (e.g., the spiral model). In some cases, one project type flows smoothly into the next. For example, concept development projects that succeed often evolve into new application development projects.

As a new application development project ends, an application enhancement project sometimes begins. This progression is both natural and predictable and will occur regardless of the process model that is adopted by an organization. Therefore, the major software engineering tasks described in the sections that follow are applicable to all process model flows. As an example, we consider the software engineering tasks for a concept development project.

Concept development projects are initiated when the potential for some new technology must be explored. There is no certainty that the technology will be applicable, but a customer (e.g., marketing) believes that potential benefit exists. Concept development projects are approached by applying the following major tasks:

Concept scoping determines the overall scope of the project.

Preliminary concept planning establishes the organization’s ability to undertake the work implied by the project scope.

Technology risk assessment evaluates the risk associated with the technology to be implemented as part of project scope.

Proof of concept demonstrates the viability of a new technology in the software context.

Concept implementation implements the concept representation in a manner that can be reviewed by a customer and is used for “marketing” purposes when a concept must be sold to other customers or management.

Customer reaction to the concept solicits feedback on a new technology concept and targets specific customer applications.

A quick scan of these tasks should yield few surprises. In fact, the software engineering flow for concept development projects (and for all other types of projects as well) is little more than common sense
The software team must understand what must be done (scoping); then the team (or manager) must determine whether anyone is available to do it (planning), consider the risks associated with the work (risk assessment), prove the technology in some way (proof of concept), and implement it in a prototypical manner so that the customer can evaluate it (concept implementation and customer evaluation). Finally, if the concept is viable, a production version (translation) must be produced.

It is important to note that concept development framework activities are iterative in nature. That is, an actual concept development project might approach these activities in a number of planned increments, each designed to produce a deliverable that can be evaluated by the customer. 
If a linear process model flow is chosen, each of these increments is defined in a repeating sequence . During each sequence, umbrella activities  are applied; quality is monitored; and at the end of each sequence, a deliverable is produced. With each iteration, the deliverable should converge toward the defined end product for the concept development stage.
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