Software process

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Software process

Software engineering is defined as the systematic approach to the development, operation, maintenance, and retirement of software. Besides delivering software, high quality, low cost, and low cycle time are also goals which software engineering must achieve. In other words, the systematic approach must help achieve a high quality and productivity (Q&P). In software, the three main factors that influence Q&P are people, processes, and technology. That is, the final quality delivered and productivity achieved depends on the skills of the people involved in the software project, the processes people use to perform the different asks in the project, and the tools they use.

As it is people who ultimately develop and deliver (and productivity is measured with respect to people’s effort as the basic input), the main job of processes is to help people achieve higher Q&P by specifying what tasks to do and how to do them. Tools are aids that help people perform some of the tasks more efficiently and with fewer errors. It should therefore be clear that to satisfy the objective of delivering software with high Q&P, processes form the core. Consequently, in software engineering, the focus is primarily on processes, which are referred to as the systematic approach in the definition given above. It is this focus on process that distinguishes software engineering from most other computing disciplines. Many other computing disciplines focus on some type of product—operating systems, databases, etc.—while software engineering focuses on the process for producing the products.

In this chapter we will discuss:

  • Role of a process and a process model in a project.
  • Various component processes in the software process and the key role of the development process and the project management process.
  • Various models for the development process—waterfall, prototyping, iterative, RUP, timeboxing, and XP.
  • The overall structure of the project management process and its key phases.
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