Tailoring Software Development Methodologies in Practice: A Case Study

de Cesare, Sergio; Patel, Chaitali; Iacovelli, Nicola; Merico, Antonio; Lycett, Mark
September 2008
Journal of Computing & Information Technology;Sep2008, Vol. 16 Issue 3, p157
Academic Journal
Software development methodologies (SDM) have been traditionally defined in a prescriptive manner with an underlying assumption of universal applicability. However, as industrial practice suggests, this assumption is fundamentally flawed. Software development projects very rarely adopt a methodology in such a rigid fashion. Conversely, methodologies are normally adapted to meet specific contextual characteristics. This adaptation, known as Method Tailoring (MT), generally occurs implicitly. Implicit adaptation has several drawbacks. Firstly, responsibility and consequences are not attributable to the decisions made during MT. Secondly, MT experience is not captured, thus not being shared and reused within the organization. As a consequence, implicit MT leads to reactive rather than proactive adaptation with negative effects on both productivity and efficient use of resources. This paper presents a case study in which MT was applied. In order to elicit the tailoring process, a high-level conceptual framework was developed. The framework was drawn from the existing literature. As a result the know-how and experience accumulated during the practice of Method Tailoring was made explicit and organized for the benefit of future projects. The framework was applied a posteriori to a project carried out by a medium-sized software development company for the Italian national public health service.


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