Projects


PASS (Pay-roll Accounting and Settlement System)

ESSI Logo
This project is carried out with the financial support of the European Union under the European Systems and Software Initiative (ESSI). EP Number 21223

Introduction

Background Information
  Objectives
  Involved companies
   and their roles

Starting scenario

Expected business impact

Implementation of
 Process Improvement
  Organisation
  Technical environment
  Training
  Phases of the experiment
  Internal dissemination

Results and Analysis
  Technical
  Business
  Organisation
  Culture
  Skills Key Lessons
  Technological Point-of-View
  Business Point-of-View
  Strengths and weaknesses

Conclusions and future actions

Glossary

References

Implementation of Process Improvement

MemoLuX decided to improve its development process. This Process Improvement Experiment project gave MemoLuX a good opportunity to evaluate new methods, procedures and tools in a real life environment to model their processes and to implement a quality system.

Nowadays the formal modeling of processes is gaining increasing interest in the field of analyzing organizations with respect to the quality of their products, productivity and efficiency. The process models are the basis for improvement actions and comparisons.

The development of a process model is a process itself. This process had to be adapted to the specific needs of MemoLuX. The level of detail to be specified depends on the level of the development process (measured by BOOTSTRAP assessments), the available computer system configuration, skills and experience of the personnel, and the size of the organization.

Four scenarios were selected for trying out how to build a workflow and for using these experiences based on the results of the former assessment and the requirement for ISO 9001 compliance:

  • Project Planning Scenario
  • Review Modeling Scenario
  • Configuration Management Scenario
  • Testing Scenario
The necessary steps to build and introduce workflows for software development process were defined as follows:
  • analyzing the model
  • implementing
  • software circle (feedback)
  • coaching and training
  • use
  • data collection
After the technical implementation of the selected scenarios, there were two main streams of work performed. At first the implemented workflows were converted to working instructions of the ISO 9001 Quality System Documentation, and after the coaching and training steps, the usage and data collection started within the baseline software development project as well.

The usage of workflows and quality system documents started during the baseline project initiation (December, 1997). Due to the decision after the investigation of the results of the mid-term self assessment, the overall implementation of the ISO 9001 Quality System for the whole IT organization started in April, 1998.

In the PASS project the quality of MemoLuX's development processes were largely enhanced to become well defined and predictable, so the measurement plan supported the collection and presentation of a set of objective data for illustrating success and/or failure, and the lessons learned.

Performance metrics were applied to show the progress in the field of business performance and software maturity. Workpackage metrics were applied to give quantitative feedback. The measurement plan implementation described how to apply the metrics given in the measurement plan to the workpackages of the PIE and to the baseline project. The measurement plan implementation included measurement issues related to all workphases of the PIE and the baseline project.

Figure 3
Structure of measurement

Organization

To complete the phases of the PIE and the baseline project new organizations were defined. These were the project organization for PIE, the project organization for the baseline project, Steering Committee, Project Board, QMU (Quality Management Unit). By the overall implementation of the ISO 9001 Quality System in April, 1998 new organization structure was set up for the whole IT department utilizing the practice of the PIE and baseline projects.

Figure 4
Organizational structure of IT department

Technical Environment

MemoLuX made an evaluation process to select the most suitable process modeling tool. The main selection criteria were the support of software development process improvement, the promotion of project management and availability of local vendor.

Figure 5
Criteria for process modeling tool selection

The finally selected LBMS Process Engineer tool consists of a set of processes for planning, managing, and developing Information Systems and gives a technology for automating the use of the system. LBMS offers a product that not only provides an extensive library of best practices, but can help an IT organization to capture its own existing intelligence as the organization's best practices. The components of LBMS Process Engineer ordered by MemoLuX are the Process Manager with the Process Library and the Project Manager. The Process Library stores best practices of which MemoLuX's repeatable processes can be built, making a standard for development and raising the expertise of the entire organization. Process Management is the method to capture, deploy, execute and improve best practices for continuous improvement.

Applying Process Management new processes can be authored, or the best practices from the Process Library can be customized to satisfy MemoLuX's needs so they can become organization standards. The Project Manager provides the ability to generate detailed project plans based on the processes, define and store information on the progress of deliverables, roles and resources and apply metrics and estimating models.

Figure 6
Process Management supported by LBMS PE tool

Training

Training and participation on conferences are basic activities of the project. Specific training was performed regarding the usage of the LBMS Process Engineer tools, implementation of the four selected scenarios and the ISO 9001 Quality System. External assistance was provided by MTA SZTAKI and the ISO 9000 consultant Qualyfore. During the training period the permanent improvement of quality system deliverables and the internal dissemination were given priority due to the concept of ISO 9001 preparations.

Phases of the experiment

As part of the project initiation, 6 main stages (see Figure 7) were set up covering the workpackage structure to provide checkpoints for project progress. Due to the fact that there are strong connections between the baseline software development tasks and PIE tasks in measurement and quality monitoring issues, the set up and implementation of the Quality System were performed before completing the system planning phase of the PASS development, so only the project initiation of the baseline was completed at the first stage.

Figure 7
Project schedule

At the endstage review of the first stage performed in December, 1997 corrective actions were indicated in time, during the detailed planning and scheduling of the next stages:

  • resources were re-allocated from the project management task to the use-steps of the scenario development to support actual try-out in the baseline project
  • a software circle as a feedback mechanism was founded
  • all intermediate results of each scenario and quality development were discussed in this circle.
Corrective actions succeeded. Two critical problems were solved. On the one hand the full ISO 9001 Quality System documentation was completed in compliance with the redefined process workflows, on the other hand internal dissemination connected with continuos improvement of the deliverables was working due to the new feedback mechanism.

After the completion of the ISO 9001 Quality System documentation based on the implemented quality scenarios and successful training and coaching period at the closure of the second stage, the decision was made to complete the implementation tasks of the Quality System in the third stage. This meant the overall introduction of the Quality System in the whole IT organization which had been originally planned at later stage. This meant extra effort for the IT staff during the third stage so the baseline project was suspended for one and a half month period. The success of the performance of this stage was measured by the mid-term self assessment, and after internal audits, a successful ISO 9001 certification was achieved.

On the basis of the results of the first three stages, the baseline project schedule was updated. The parallel activities of the baseline and the PIE projects regarding measurement and quality monitoring were performed in stage 4 and 5. The fifth stage ended by the final BOOTSTRAP assessment of the project. The measured maturity level of the IT department was 3.

In stage 6 the external dissemination activities were completed.

Figure 7 above shows the dynamics of the experiment by comparing the first plan with the actual one. The main quantitative result of the project regarding scheduling is the two-month delay in baseline development compared to the one-month introduction period of the ISO 9001 Quality System. The software industry based expectation for the introduction was 6 months. This means that the formerly achieved process improvement maturity level 3 causes delay in the first project, but this delay is comparable to the introduction period of the ISO 9001 Quality System. The clear advantage is the extremely fast achievement of compliance with ISO 9001 requirements for the whole IT organization.

Internal Dissemination

Based on the results of the mid-term BootCheck self-assessment, the commitment of management helped in disseminating the results within the company.

Due to the repeatable actions carried out and the transferable results of the process improvement, the introduction of the ISO 9001 Quality System came into force in April instead of the planned date of November, 1998. This means that the results of the PIE were not only disseminated at mid-term, but influenced the whole IT organization of MemoLuX by the overall introduction of the Quality System.

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