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Specialization in: coaching, training, mentoring, organizational assessments for all aspects of software development, and consulting on strategies & implementations of process improvement engagements. Expertise in all leading methodologies such as IBM Rational Unified Process (RUP), OpenUP, EnterpriseUP, and Agile approaches such as XP, Scrum, and DSDM. Over 15 years of experience in guiding companies toward improving the implementation of new process solutions and technology, providing services as an agile coach, process mentor, and trainer. Organizational change management leader, working hand and hand with organizations in developing a strategy for implementing an improved process and the resulting organizational culture changes. Focus is the company’s Return on investment (ROI) and helps manage how much effective change a given organization can adopt at any given point. Coached, mentored, and trained thousands of practitioners on all aspects of software development, conducted dozens of Conference presentations, authored many publications, sat on advisory boards, and chaired User Groups. Author of “Implementing the IBM Rational Unified Process and Solutions – A Guide to Improving Your Software Development Capability and Maturity, IBM Press 2007”. This is the book on how to implement & adopt RUP and make it agile, that was written at the request of the IBM Rational brand, and is based on more than a decade of real life practical experiences implementing, mentoring, and coaching on software development process engagements. Invited by the IBM Rational brand in 2003 to become a member of the Methods Client Advisory Group (CAG), providing input and direction to the development of RUP and other IBM methods. The group consists of 20 selected individuals representing expertise from around the world. Program Director of the largest Rational User Group in the country, Co-Discussion Facilitator of the Rational RUP Discussion forum for IBM’s developerWorks, and a recurring member (1 of 4) of the Process and Portfolio Management Panel of Experts IBM Rational Software Development Conferences for consecutive years. Frequent speaker at industry conferences on topics related to software development best practices, effective coaching & mentoring, and organizational change management. Joshua has posted 7 posts at DZone. View Full User Profile

Using a Process Management Tool

03.31.2010
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Last week I posted a follow up and a new entry on processes that I have been working on for a client and the delivery mechanism.  Although my partners and I have evaluated and demoed various tools over the years to create, modify, or publish processes, the two process management tool platforms we use most often are Rational Method Composer, “RMC”, and the Eclipse Process Framework Composer, “EPF Composer”. 

Both of these tools are used to author, tailor, document and deploy “method content” (the stuff that is the process) as a framework.  Tools such as these really make process engineering and architecture take on a larger return of value.  There are countless ways to push out a process, everything from simply writing it down on a wall (maybe a giant whiteboard) to publishing as a humongous document such as a pdf that is out on the company website, to a process website.  That last one is where these two tools have a lot of robustness. 

Although printed manuals are still the comfort of many people, moving your organization’s methodology to a web based format provides easy navigation, indexing, and search engine capability which enables the day in and day out users to find information quickly and easily such as: templates, examples, and guidance on what tasks to do, when to do them, and what is the resulting work product (amongst lots of other meaningful stuff).

Often when I am discussing using either of these tools as part of a process improvement strategy with clients, the simple analogy is the difference between looking a something like the old Sears Catalog that came out once a year or going to Amazon and finding what you are looking for (plus all sorts of other content that should help with items you are looking at).

Using a process management tool such as these also enables a standardized and managed development process library of reusable process content that can be based on existing policies and procedures as well as industry best practices.  Once created, this provides an extensible knowledge base of intellectual capital.  It also supports the systematic growth and management of the development processes (continuous process improvement) while maintaining methodology alignment throughout the organization for differing project patterns (large, small, new development, enhancing an existing app, build, buy, IT development vs. small app dev outside of IT vs. other types of development – fin modeling).

RMC is the commercially available tool from IBM and the Eclipse Process Framework Composer is the open source version (see www.eclipse.org/epf).  More and more I have found that starting with the open source version, and using the process library content that comes with it as a starting place has worked really well.  Plus, it is free!  Some clients do want to purchase licenses from a vendor so they can pick the phone and chat with support, so that may a constraint you could face.  If you think you can get value from a process management tool, I suggest starting with the open source version and when the time comes to comply with the push to buy something, and then reach out your sales person.  No need to rush when there is so much that can be done initially with the eclipse version and what you do in the eclipse version can be imported into the for money version…

References
Published at DZone with permission of its author, Joshua Barnes. (source)

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)

Comments

Erich Meier replied on Thu, 2010/04/01 - 3:21am

Good points, Joshua!

As you noted, there are a number of process management tools out there, that can even bring more value than EPF or RMC. Additional features that might be important are easy-to-use process definition (e.g. Wiki style), guided process tailoring, process baselining, compliance management (checking compliance to CMMI, SPICE, ISO9000, ISO20000 and many more) or process metrics collection/reporting.

For making the most out of your process definition work, some process management tools even allow the instantiation or enactment of the defined processes. This allows to use a tailored process in a project and connect it to configuration or document management systems, e.g. CVS or subversion. This enables a process-oriented work product management for all participants of a process.

One example for such a tool is the Stages process management suite, that covers most if not all of these features. Additionally, it can export processes to IBM Jazz/TeamConcert for implementation.

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