Academic journal article JITTA : Journal of Information Technology Theory and Application

A Framework for Process Assessment of Software Product Line

Academic journal article JITTA : Journal of Information Technology Theory and Application

A Framework for Process Assessment of Software Product Line

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Software product line has emerged as an attractive phenomenon within organizations dealing with software development process. It involves assembly of products from existing core assets, commonly known as components, and continuous growth in the core assets as production proceeds. Organizations trying to incorporate the concept of software product line to reduce development time and cost require certain rules to be followed for successful development and management, they also require a direct procedure to evaluate the current maturity level of the process. In this work certain rules for developing and managing a software product line are put forward. Additionally, a fuzzy logic based software product line process assessment tool (SPLPAT) has been designed and implemented on the basis of developed rules for software product line process assessment. SPLPAT can be used to assess the process maturity level of software product line, and it provides an opportunity to handle imprecision and uncertainty present in software process variables. Four case studies were conducted to validate the framework, and results show that SPLPAT provides a direct mechanism to evaluate current software product line process maturity level within an organization. The results of the developed software product line process assessment approach were compared with the existing CMM-level of the organization in order to evaluate the reliability of the presented approach and to find out how effectively an organization can execute software product line process when it has already achieved a certain CMM level.

INTRODUCTION

The concept of software product line is based on development of identical systems having controlled variability among one another. The term "software product line" is widely used in North America whereas a similar concept but with different terminology like "product family" or "system family" is being used in Europe (Linden 2002). A software product line is a set of software-intensive systems sharing a common, managed set of features that satisfy the specific needs of a particular market segment or mission and that are developed from a common set of core assets in a prescribed way (Clements 2002). Software product line is gaining popularity over the time due to economics, but there has not been much research to establish appropriate rules as guidelines for software product line development or to come up with procedures to assess the maturity level of software product line process within an organization.

The aim of this research is to introduce a set of rules based on best-known practices of the software industry as well as to create a fuzzy logic-based framework and tool for process assessment of software product line within an organization. The focus of the software process assessment framework is to put forward a methodology for process assessment, particularly that of software product line. The correlation between CMM and the presented approach is beyond the scope of this work. The work presented in this paper does not propose an alternate methodology for CMM; rather it concentrates on developing a methodology for process assessment of software product line only. The consideration of CMM in this work addresses the following:

* In order to evaluate the reliability of the proposed approach, we compared the software product line process assessment with the existing CMM levels achieved by the organizations under study. The fuzzy logic approach presented in this work transforms the software product line process variables into CMM levels as output. The purpose of this transformation is to investigate the extent of reliability of the proposed approach and compare it with an existing standardized approach like CMM.

* Another aspect of CMM involvement with this presented approach is to investigate the impact of already achieved CMM level on software product line process. The case studies presented in this paper are used to find out how effectively an organization can execute a software product line process when it has already achieved a higher CMM level. …

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