Skip to main content

Latest patterns for FDD

The release of 2.8 this week sees some interesting updates to the FDD patterns. Like the Scrum updates for xProcess, the new FDD process uses "composite tasks" to define the structure of FDD projects, allowing them to be expanded top down as the details of feature sets and features are defined.

This hierarchy diagram shows the structure of the FDD project pattern. For those familiar with the method, the 5 stage process is visible in the top-level tasks:
  1. Develop an Overall Model
  2. Build a Features List
  3. Plan by Feature and
  4. combined with 5. Design by Feature - Build by Feature.
Note that the darker blue nodes are patterns, so these can be further expanded in the hierarchy diagram or viewed in the graphical pattern editor.

Here for example is the hierarchy view of the Feature Set pattern, which groups together a set of related features into a deliverable package which can be scheduled for a particular release. Note that here the "Features" composite task, as well as containing Features, may also group Defects (work on correcting issues from previous releases) and Tasks (any other work related to the Feature Set).

The Feature pattern has already been the subject of a number of postings on this blog (see for example...). The pattern diagram shown here uses a quite traditional view of the tasks required to deliver a feature with the emphasis on Specify (the "design by feature" part) and Develop (the "build by feature" part). We can see more detail of this task pattern by using "Go Into" in the pattern editor. Here the specific artifacts and quality gateways that are associated with each task, as well as the number and types of roles required to carry out the task, can be reviewed and modified.
Clearly other ways of breaking these tasks down are possible, and some of the FDD literature (for example Palmer and Felsing's book Feature Driven Development) provide alternative schemes that place stronger emphasis for example on design and code walkthroughs rather than the test-driven approach implied here.

The beauty of xProcess is that the task patterns are all easily and graphically editable so you can make this method match exactly what you want the FDD teams to carry out. As all plans, tasks, artifacts, processes and time records are stored in the xProcess versioned data stores, the compliance with your process can be monitored at any time, either to improve the process patterns where teams have discovered better ways of working, or to improve the teams' approach by following the best practice captured in your process patterns.

FDD has a three-level hierarchy of functionality: Features, Feature Sets and Major Feature Sets (also referred to as Business Areas). So far we've seen where Features and Feature Sets appear within the hierarchy of a project. Major Feature Sets (MFS's) are handled slightly differently. MFS's are created by an xProcess pattern in a similar way to the other patterns we've looked at, but they result in categorized folders rather than tasks which are part of the project hierarchy. This is so that the Feature Sets are visible within the Gantt charts and release schedules. Because of the scope of major Feature Sets, they generally do not have such a clearly delineated start and end date and so it would not make the project schedule clearer to include them in that way. So opening a MFS folder shows you all the feature sets and features in that category. You can then review and prioritize the features in just this one business area. Here's an example of a MFS in a particular project with its corresponding Gantt chart (click on the diagram to see more detail).
Finally in this brief review of xProcess FDD, the pattern for a Release is also instructive. Again a prioritized folder is used for the Release pattern, rather than a task in the project task hierarchy (see the Scrum method for an example of a process that uses this alternative). By default just one release will be created in the project (with a target close to the end of the project). However the Project Manager can create as many additional interim releases as he requires. The "scope" of the release is defined by moving the required features/feature sets/tasks into the release folder. The scheduler of xProcess uses the implied and defined priorities of these tasks to calculate completion dates and provide alerts if targets are unlikely to be met. As the project progresses, the scheduler uses the input from team members completing and possibly re-estimating the required effort for tasks to give immediate visibility of targets' status and costs providing all stakeholders of the FDD projects timely and detailed information to support decision making and further planning.
Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Does your Definition of Done allow known defects?

Is it just me or do you also find it odd that some teams have clauses like this in their definition of done (DoD)?
... the Story will contain defects of level 3 severity or less only ... Of course they don't mean you have to put minor bugs in your code - that really would be mad - but it does mean you can sign the Story off as "Done"if the bugs you discover in it are only minor (like spelling mistakes, graphical misalignment, faults with easy workarounds, etc.). I saw DoDs like this some time ago and was seriously puzzled by the madness of it. I was reminded of it again at a meet-up discussion recently - it's clearly a practice that's not uncommon.

Let's look at the consequences of this policy. 

Potentially for every User Story that is signed off as "Done" there could be several additional Defect Stories (of low priority) that will be created. It's possible that finishing a Story (with no additional user requirements) will result in an increase in…

"Plan of Intent" and "Plan of Record"

Ron Lichty is well known in the Software Engineering community on the West Coast as a practitioner, as a seasoned project manager of many successful ventures and in a number of SIGs and conferences in which he is active. In spite of knowing Ron by correspondence over a long period of time it was only at JavaOne this year that we finally got together and I'm very glad we did.

Ron wrote to me after our meeting:

I told a number of people later at JavaOne, and even later that evening at the Software Engineering Management SIG, about xProcess. It really looks good. A question came up: It's a common technique in large organizations to keep a "Plan of Intent" and a "Plan of Record" - to have two project plans, one for the business partners and boss, one you actually execute to. Any support for that in xProcess?

Good question! Here's my reply...

There is support in xProcess for an arbitrary number of target levels through what we call (in the process definitions) P…

Understanding Cost of Delay and its Use in Kanban

Cost of Delay (CoD) is a vital concept to understand in product development. It should be a guide to the ordering of work items, even if - as is often the case - estimating it quantitatively may be difficult or even impossible. Analysing Cost of Delay (even if done qualitatively) is important because it focuses on the business value of work items and how that value changes over time. An understanding of Cost of Delay is essential if you want to maximise the flow of value to your customers.

Don Reinertsen in his book Flow [1] has shown that, if you want to deliver the maximum business value with a given size team, you give the highest priority, not to the most valuable work items in your "pool of ideas," not even to the most urgent items (those whose business value decays at the fastest rate), nor to your smallest items. Rather you should prioritise those items with the highest value of urgency (or CoD) divided by the time taken to implement them. Reinertsen called this appro…