Author : DAOUDI Samir | Context : MSc Software Engineering – Software Engineering

In any company, organization or even life, everything we perform is part of a process. If we want to improve the tasks we are performing we should focus on improving the process.

Some team leaders and managers adopt a wrong approach in improving the process; Thinking only in cutting costs, they try to encourage (or force) people to do more efforts for less in return. Looking at the results of this method, it can give positive results in the mid-term; however, it is impossible to run a business for long time with this approach (Evans, nd).

As the process is deployed in non-constant environment where different factors and events occur and might change the behavior of the process; this is why the process improvement should be considered in regular basis.

What is process improvement?
The process improvement is “a way to look at the world that allows you to do things better, cheaper or faster”. Using the ideas of process improvement we can create products and services much better than your competitors’.
When considering the products and services improving, there are two major process-oriented approaches that are: the process improvement & process reengineering (Flanigan & Scott, 1995).
The process improvement is an approach that aims for:
– Incrementally change the process.
– Improving more than 25%.
– Evolution to current way to do business.

“Process improvement” means making things better, not just fighting fires or managing crises. It means setting aside the customary practice of blaming people for problems or failures. It is a way of looking at how we can do our work better (Abrahamsson et al, 2007).

The group assignment we are working on is a good example of process improvement, the company is trying to change the ordering process by providing additional features, enhancing actual functions …etc.

The process improvement is a complex task based on three main cyclic processes that are:

1. Process measurement: in this phase, we aim to measure the different attribute of the products and improve the measures according the goals fixed in the process improvement.

2. Process analysis: The process is evaluated and checked in order to define the weakness and issues related to it. Process models nay be developed during this stage.

3. Process change: In this phase, changes are proposed to fix some issues and weakness of the process (Sommerville, 2011).

Analyzing the different steps of the process improvements, we can see the importance of each one and especially the process analysis in which the bottlenecks of the process are identified and based on this identification of the weaknesses, the improvement can be successful.

The Process analysis
The study of the process in order to understand the important characteristics and how people uses the process. At this phase we try to understand how the process functions and try to identify its different bugs and malfunctions that may be improved (Flanigan & Scott, 1995).

The main goals of this analysis are:
– To determine the different activities and the relationship between them.
– To understand the relationship between the process and the baseline measure defined in the measurement phase.
– Trying to compare the actual process to others in the organization.

In order to collect all the data related to the process’ analysis, some technics can be followed as the interviews and ethnographic studies.

The interviews or questionnaires are set of questions about how the process actually functions?
The ethnographic studies are a little bit different approach, where we analyze and observe the users when dealing with the process.

The aspects that have to be analyzed and studies in this step can be resumed in:
– Adoption and standardization
– Software engineering practice
– Organizational constraints
– Communication
– Introspection
– Learning
– Tool support (Sommerville, 2011).

In conclusion, the importance of process is significant within an organization; improving process should be applied in regular basis in order to respond to the continual changing environment of the process.
A deep analyze of the process is the only way to determine the weaknesses and faults of the process being improved.

References:

Evans, M. (nd) Course 17: Process Improvement. Excellence in Financial Management.
http://www.exinfm.com/training/pdfiles/course17.pdf

Pekka Abrahamsson, Nathan Baddoo, Tiziana Margaria and Richard Messnarz (2007). Software process improvement, 14th European conference, EuroSPI 2007, Potsdam Germany, September 2009. ISBN: 9783642041334.

Eileen Flanigan, Jon Scott (1995). Process improvement: enhancing your organization’s effectiveness. ISBN: 1560523220.

Ian Sommerville (2011). Software Engineering, 9th edition, Pearson edition, ISBN: 978-0-13-703515-1

Originally posted 2013-10-06 15:20:46.

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