So far in this chapter, we have assumed that the nature of the tasks to be carried out has not changed. A project leader like Amanda or Brigette might find, however, that requirements are modified because of changing circumstances or because the users get a clearer idea of what is really needed. The payroll system that Brigette is implementing might, for instance, need to be adjusted if the staffing structure at the college is reorganized.
Other, internal, changes will crop up. Amanda might find that there are inconsistencies in the program specifications that become apparent only when the programs are coded, and these would result in amendments to the specifications.
Careful control of these changes is needed because an alteration in one document often implies changes to other documents and the system products based on that document. The Product Flow Diagrams that have been explained in Chapter 2 indicate relationships between the products of a project where this is the case.
Exercise 9.4 A change in a program specification will normally be carried through into changes to the program design and then changed code. What other products might need to be modified?
BS EN ISO 9001:1994 (formerly BS 5750) requires that a formal change control procedure be in place.
Configuration librarian's role
Control of changes and documentation ought to be the responsibility of someone who may variously be named the Configuration Librarian, the Configuration Manager or Project Librarian. Among this person's duties would be:
• the identification of all items that are subject to change control;
• the establishment and maintenance of a central repository of the master copies of all project documentation and software products;
• the setting up and running of a formal set of procedures to deal with changes;
• the maintenance of records of who has access to which library items and the status of each library item (e.g. whether under development, under test or released).
It will be recalled that it was suggested that the setting up of change control procedures might be one of the first things the Brigette might want to do at Brightmouth College.
Change control procedures
A simple change control procedure for operational systems might have the following steps.
1. One or more users might perceive a need for a modification to a system and ask for a change request to be passed to the development staff.
2. The user management consider the change request and if they approve it pass it to the development management.
3. The development management delegate a member of staff to look at the request and to report on the practicality and cost of carrying out the change. They would, as part of this, assess the products that would be affected by the change.
4. The development management report back to the user management on the findings and the user management decide whether, in view of the cost quoted, they wish to go ahead.
5. One or more developers are authorized to take copies of the master products that are to be modified.
6. The copies are modified. In the case of software components this would involve modifying the code and recompiling and testing it.
7. When the development of new versions of the product has been completed the user management will be notified and copies of the software will be released for user acceptance testing.
8. When the user is satisfied that the products are adequate they will authorize their operational release. The master copies of configuration items will be replaced.
The above steps relate to changes to operational systems. How could they be Exercise 9.5 modified to deal with systems under development?
A common occurrence with IS development projects is for the size of the system This is sometimes called gradually to increase. One cause of this is changes to requirements that are scope creep, requested by users.
Think of other reasons why there is a tendency for scope creep.
The scope of a project needs to be carefully monitored and controlled. One way is to re-estimate the system size in terms of SLOC or function points at key milestones.
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What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.