Original Date: 07/25/2005
Revision Date: 09/12/2006
Best Practice : Process Improvement Core Team
Through integration of the software user community into the Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems software engineering process, significant benefits have been realized by both the user community and Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems. The user community now shares in the engineering process decision-making and responsibility. Software quality has increased, development times have been reduced, and a greater adherence to process rigor has been achieved.
Northrop Grumman Electronics Systems (NGES) develops a range of advanced and complex software for a variety of government and commercial clients. The legacy NGES approach to the software engineering process discipline integrated all key NGES organizations and functions but did not significantly engage the actual software user community. With the increased dependency of the software user community (i.e., NGES clients) on these processes, NGES leadership recognized the need to involve the user community in sharing both decision-making and responsibility.
To achieve the objective of shared decision-making and responsibility, the NGES Software Engineering Process Organization (SEPO) was restructured to include the software user community. A Process Improvement Core Team (PICT) was formed and integrated into the SEPO, with members representing software users from each of the seven principal NGES business areas and from the key NGES software functional disciplines.
As an integral part if the SEPO, the PICT can influence software engineering process issues early and effectively. Ownership of the process now resides with both NGES and the user community. The PICT charter allows significant input to configuration control, to changing processes and new software processes, to software tool implementation, and to emerging technologies. The PICT also coordinates and communicates lessons learned between the SEPO and the user community.
With the interests of the user community incorporated into the software engineering processes, both NGES and the user community benefit. NGES has faced no post-deployment catastrophic user issues since the implementation of the PICT in 1996, and audit results have indicated a greater adherence to software engineering processes. The PICT is also recognized as a significant contributor to reduced software engineering process maturing times. NGES leadership has identified the PICT as the single greatest contributor to promoting the Capability Maturation Model concept of “process institutionalization.”
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