Documenting V-model-based methodologies

I am often involved in methodology development projects, usually for waterfall-based organisations and based on the standard V-model. Because any serious solution delivery process now greatly exceeds this simple model, yet it is hard to diagram the extra tasks without creating a complete mess that no–one can understand, this raises the question of what functions, processes and tasks need to be shown outside the main V.

In response, the first question I would ask is what exactly your organisation’s ‘standard’ approach is. That is, what is the approach that you usually take to delivery, that occupies 80% of your people 80% of the time, and so on? That then tells you what should lie in the main V, and what not.

In any organisation whose maid delivery process is bespoke development (as opposed to, say, buying in and adapting packages), I would suggest that all else should be pushed off the main V. This would normally mean that the following are all put offline from the main diagram:

  • Procurement.
  • Service delivery.
  • Testing.
  • Project management.
  • Business change management.

I would expect each of these to develop its own process (frequently its own V) and to be accessible directly from the methodology home page. Essentially, the reasons why each of these functions needs pulling out are that:

  • It’s a minor variant of the major process – the main V should show only the major process (e.g., in this case, procurement).
  • It is logically asynchronous with the chosen logical model of solution delivery – in most cases, stage-based development (e.g., test preparation of various kinds).
  • Its logical structure is non-linear (e.g., project management).
  • It may be invoked at any point (e.g., change control, defect management, risk management, and so on).
  • It has a specialised audience, so most people don’t need to know how it is done (all lower-level technical processes).

So procurement should excluded from our V-model only because it is not the usual method for doing delivering a solution, and may not happen at all for many projects. If, however, you are predominantly procurement-driven, then procurement should move straight into the V and bespoke development be put off-line.

Hence also my exclusion of project management from the V, which will probably strike most people as off. But most project management activity (governance, planning, task assignment + tracking, risks and issues, reporting, etc.) is either ad hoc, repetitious or cyclical, and does not fit the linear structure of a V.

On the other hand, to make sure that everything stays aligned and everyone knows what they are supposed to be doing, the main V should ideally include not only everything in the standard delivery sequence path but also the touch-points with each of these other functions. This should indicate the points at which show not only where they provide their respective ‘services’ but also the points at which they take their ‘feed’ from the main process. This can make the main diagram physically or logically complex, but I think that that would be ideal.

For example, the main links between a bespoke development V and service planning are probably:

  • During Initiation, where service planning needs to indicate the contributions it will need to make to the project.
  • During Requirements, where service planning needs to identify the non-functional requirements it they need to define SLAs, shape the environmental design, and so on.
  • During Design, service planning generally need to be involved in environmental + infrastructural design.
  • During Build, service planning may need to be involved in unit + integration testing where these relate to infrastructure and environments, and in non-functional testing where this is will bear on SLAs.
  • During system testing, service planning will be interested not only in non-functional testing but also in identifying any work-arounds + FAQs (for the Help Desk), plus starting to collect any residual defects that are likely to affect the working solution.
  • Finally, during the Deployment stage, service planning will be involved in Operational Acceptance Testing and a range of deployment planning and activity.

There may be other lesser dependencies, such as where various flavours of readiness need to be checked. But by and large, the definition of all these tasks, plus any supporting techniques, tools and templates, guidelines, process maps, and so on, can all lie outside the main V. Only the touch-points need to be identified there.

By |2018-01-18T16:27:39+00:00Thursday, August 7 2008|Categories: All, Process and method|0 Comments

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