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Modelling "softer" aspects of the software development process: an activity theory based approach

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2 Author(s)
McGrath, G.M. ; JRCASE, Macquarie Univ., North Ryde, NSW, Australia ; Uden, L.

In our view all current software engineering tools and techniques have strengths and weaknesses but very few tools provide much in the way of useful support for the critical "people-related" (or "softer") organisational behaviour issues critical to the successful implementation of any new process or system. In this context, activity theory would appear to have much to offer, incorporating, as it does, notions of intentionality, history, mediation, motivation, understanding, communication, culture and context. Previously, we have reported on the specification and development of a repository designed to represent process knowledge captured within an activity theory framework. Here, we extend this work by proposing a framework for a broad process modelling methodology designed around this repository. We take advantage of the substantial overlap between a methodology based on knowledge analysis of tasks (KAT) and activity theory. KAT analysis directly supports the fundamental process modelling objective of identifying what people currently do in their work within a given domain. Here our focus is on the software development process and we illustrate our approach by applying it to the change management activity within the implementation stage of the SDLC. Specifically, we present an involving the use of change anchors. These are abstract devices designed to "kick start" change initiatives to a point where these gain sufficient credibility to sustain themselves.

Published in:

System Sciences, 2000. Proceedings of the 33rd Annual Hawaii International Conference on

Date of Conference:

4-7 Jan. 2000