Thursday, January 08, 2009

Calling Software Development Process experts!

Did you know that from January 2009 the xProcess project is going open source?

This means that projects worldwide will be able to download and use free process definition and project management software and, if they are so inclined, configure and improve it for their own use. At the same time we are launching a new services company OpenXprocess. This company will incorporate xProcess Europe (and xProcess US), and manage the ongoing enhancement of the product, while offering services to users of xProcess such as: training in Scrum, FDD, Agile, Iconix Process, Unified Process, Prince and other configured processes of xProcess; configuration of the product to companies’ own development processes; and a support package which includes the web server for access to project data from browsers.

This is where the software process experts come in. Would you be interested in learning about xProcess and potentially offering services to configure processes or consult with clients using existing configurations? The Scrum configuration in xProcess for example provides a number of unique features which are not available in other Scrum tools (task matching, forecasting, three-point estimating, target management, multi-dimensional prioritisation) as well as familiar Scrum tools such as burndown charts (including burndown forecasts), Gantt charts (auto-generated) and backlog management. If you would like to be involved I’d very much like to hear from you.

The process configuration capabilities of xProcess, particularly now it’s an open source product, offer important innovations for the industry, and I’m particularly keen to involve experienced software consultants in this area. In the past process definitions have been of only passing interest to project managers, useful guidance but completely separate from the plans they work on day by day. xProcess changes this relationship since it is now possible to define processes that instantiate directly into project plans and aid conformance with the process (or highlight differences) as plans are implemented.

Project processes are often described with Activity diagrams or similar notations. But these are notoriously difficult to map to the actual activities of a project. With xProcess the process is described in terms of task patterns which, when instantiated within the initial project pattern, show the trackable tasks that are required to complete that part of the process. Where aspects of the process involve activities that are below the level of trackable tasks – for example a development task may involve say, coding, testing, integrating and building – these steps may also be captured in the process definition through xProcess’s Gateways, which are defined in task patterns and are completed as questions and answers on closing a trackable task. And because task patterns may themselves contain task patterns the process definition language gives as much flexibility to define optional, repeating or iterating structures as activity diagrams do, but with the important difference that they map directly into the plan structure that projects implement.

If you’ve read this far I hope that means I’ve at least aroused your curiosity to investigate further. You can download the product from www.ivis.com (soon to be www.openxprocess.com) and I very much hope you’ll do this and encourage colleagues and clients to do likewise. But you might also be interested in getting directly involved. In Q1 2009 I’ll be conducting some training workshops for potential xProcess consultants or process engineers (probably in Denver and London). Please let me know if this might be of interest. The training will last 2 days with the opportunity for a further 3 days collaborative work on a process of your choosing – this can be carried out either immediately following the training event or remotely at your convenience, with access to me via phone, skype or teleconference. Following completion of this we will offer certification as “Certified xProcess Consultant” so that you can offer services to clients directly or through OpenXprocess. OpenXprocess will only use certified personnel for training and consulting services and will support certified consultants in the field to help ensure your success.

If you know of others who may be interested in this, or companies who you feel might want to adopt xProcess, please let me know.

Wishing you all the best for 2009.

Andy Carmichael.

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