Software Engineering Management
In software engineering, management activities occur at three levels: organizational and infrastructure management, project management, and measurement program planning and control. This section describes the areas of project management, including initiation and scope definition, project planning, project enactment, review and evaluation, and engineering measurement. These subjects are often regarded as being separate, and indeed they do possess many unique aspects, their close relationship has led to their combined treatment in software engineering as effective management requires a combination of both numbers and experience.
Topics for software engineering management
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.
Selection of the appropriate software life cycle model (for example, spiral, evolutionary prototyping) and the adaptation and deployment of appropriate software life cycle processes are undertaken in light of the particular scope and requirements of the project. Relevant methods and tools are also selected. At the project level, appropriate methods and tools are used to decompose the project into tasks, with associated inputs, outputs, and completion conditions (for example, work breakdown structure). This in turn influences decisions on the project's high-level schedule and organization structure.
The product(s) of each task (for example, architectural design, inspection report) are specified and characterized. Opportunities to reuse software components from previous developments or to utilize off-the-shelf software products are evaluated. Use of third parties and procured software are planned and suppliers are selected.
Effort, Schedule, and Cost Estimation
Based on the breakdown of tasks, inputs, and outputs, the expected effort range required for each task is determined using a calibrated estimation model based on historical size-effort data where available and relevant, or other methods like expert judgment. Task dependencies are established and potential bottlenecks are identified using suitable methods (for example, critical path analysis). Bottlenecks are resolved where possible, and the expected schedule of tasks with projected start times, durations, and end times is produced. Resource requirements (people, tools) are translated into cost estimates. This is a highly iterative activity which must be negotiated and revised until consensus is reached among affected stakeholders (primarily engineering and management).
Equipment, facilities, and people are associated with the scheduled tasks, including the allocation of responsibilities for completion. This activity is informed and constrained by the availability of resources and their optimal use under these circumstances, as well as by issues relating to personnel (for example, productivity of individuals/teams, team dynamics, organizational and team structures).
Risk identification and analysis (what can go wrong, how and why, and what are the likely consequences), critical risk assessment (which are the most significant risks in terms of exposure, which can we do something about in terms of leverage), risk mitigation and contingency planning (formulating a strategy to deal with risks and to manage the risk profile) are all undertaken. Risk assessment methods (for example, decision trees and process simulations) should be used in order to highlight and evaluate risks. Project abandonment policies should also be determined at this point in discussion with all other stakeholders. Software-unique aspects of risk, such as software engineers' tendency to add unwanted features or the risks attendant in software's intangible nature, must influence the project's risk management.
Quality is defined in terms of pertinent attributes of the specific project and any associated product(s), perhaps in both quantitative and qualitative terms. These quality characteristics will have been determined in the specification of detailed software requirements.
Thresholds for adherence to quality are set for each indicator as appropriate to stakeholder expectations for the software at hand. Procedures relating to ongoing SQA throughout the process and for product (deliverable) verification and validation are also specified at this stage (for example, technical reviews and inspections).
How the project will be managed and how the plan will be managed must also be planned. Reporting, monitoring, and control of the project must fit the selected software engineering process and the realities of the project, and must be reflected in the various artifacts that will be used for managing it. But, in an environment where change is an expectation rather than a shock, it is vital that plans are themselves managed. This requires that adherence to plans be systematically directed, monitored, reviewed, reported, and, where appropriate, revised. Plans associated with other management-oriented support processes (for example, documentation, software configuration management, and problem resolution) also need to be managed in the same manner.