Engineering, Management, Posts

Between Waterfall and Agile – The Grey Area

What is the development theory that Steve Jobs used to develop the Apple II computer? Do you think that when Thomas Edison invented and mass-produced the light bulb, and many other inventions, he was thinking about what project development model to apply? What model was on the mind of Henry Ford when he revolutionized the automotive industry (besides the model T)?

If you have great visionary leaders who have a good understanding of the market, and talented people who master the state-of-the-art technology, with a bit of luck, you can develop a best-in-class product, and disrupt the market, without the need for any management/development theory. Following your success, people (not as smart as your people) will try to extract lessons from your good practices, theorize them, and sell them to other companies as remedies to their problems. Good practices will always help to improve the outcome, but will never fix the problem of narrow-minded leadership and unmotivated people.

This sets the ground for the sequel.

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Product/Software Development

The development of a product/software comprises the following key activities:

Continue reading “Between Waterfall and Agile – The Grey Area”
Engineering, Management, Posts

What is Agile Software Development ?

Software development is a tough process. It starts off by identifying and understanding what the user/client needs, and ends by deploying a solution that may, or may not, satisfy the user. During this journey, a group of Homo sapiens work together, organize teams, conceive plans, define tasks, rules and tools. They spend time and effort specifying, designing, programming, testing, documenting, bug fixing, etc. and hoping that they will deliver on time.

Some of those sapiens groups outperform their peers, and manage to provide high quality solutions on time. Other groups fail to deliver any solution, and waste their effort, time and resources in vain. Successful software developers (at least some of them) decided to help the others with their skills, by teaching them how they are doing Software development. This is why, on February 11th – 13th, 2001, at The Lodge at Snowbird ski resort in the Wasatch mountains of Utah, USA, seventeen Homo sapiens met to talk, ski, relax, and try to find common ground—and of course, to eat. What emerged was the Agile Software Development Manifesto.

Agile is a Software development mindset that embraces change. It is neither a process nor a model, but rather a set of values and principles. It is a flexible approach for Software development, that helps organizations to adapt fast to the market change.

Agile_Values

Processes and documentation are important, but not the main concern in Agile mindset.

Continue reading “What is Agile Software Development ?”

Engineering, Management, Posts

Software Development Models

There exist a wide variety of software development models, that have evolved to address the evolving challenges facing the software industry. In this post, the following models are reviewed:

  • Waterfall Model
  • V-Model
  • Sashimi Model
  • Incremental Model
  • Unified Process Model
  • Spiral Model

We present a summary of their pros and cos, and the cases for which each model is best suited for. Note that the same models apply to other product (or system) development, therefore, we will use software and product interchangeably in this post. It is worth noting also that, in practice, most organizations combine two or more models in their development process.

First, let’s take a look at the software development phases.

Software Development Phases

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The Waterfall Model

The conventional way to conduct software development projects consists broadly of the following steps:

  • Requirements: they are gathered from the customer/user at the beginning of the project. Requirements are system-level and independent of the technical solution.
  • Architecture & Design: architecture deals with the high level design, and the definition of the interfaces and interactions between subsystems. Then detailed design deals with components, functions, subsystems, etc.
  • Implementation: the design is now a coded software that is ready to be tested.
  • Testing: it includes verification and validation (V&V) of the product. First, the verification means to check that what we designed is working as expected (unit testing for instance). Then the validation is to check that what we designed and implemented actually fulfills the requirements (system testing).
  • Release: the software is released and is ready for deployment. Sometimes, deployment and maintenance are considered to be part of the software development phases.

This sequential process is called Waterfall, as it can be illustrated in the figure above.  Continue reading “Software Development Models”