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IBM Journal of Research and Development

Issue 2 • Date March-april 2010

Business Value through Software Development

Software is strategically central to all businesses today; thus, businesses must understand, measure, and manage the value provided by software development and delivery. Businesses must also be aware of the risks involved in developing software. This issue contains five papers on the topics of project portfolio management, team practices, software development processes, and risk identification and management. The issue also includes three non-topical papers. The first discusses enterprise data management in financial markets. The second describes improved data-detection techniques for tape storage. The last paper provides a survey of hardware designs for decimal arithmetic in computing systems.

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Displaying Results 1 - 11 of 11
  • Front cover

    Page(s): C1
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    Freely Available from IEEE
  • Table of contents

    Page(s): 1
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    Freely Available from IEEE
  • Preface

    Page(s): 1
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    Freely Available from IEEE
  • Small software organizations need explicit project portfolio management

    Page(s): 1:1 - 1:12
    Save to Project icon | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (639 KB)  

    The concept of managing new product development projects as an explicit portfolio originates from the context of large organizations. However, the question as to whether explicit portfolio management is relevant for small organizations is rarely discussed. We conducted a qualitative multiple-case study of six small organizations (with 15–40 people) that developed software and provided related services. Five of the organizations did not practice explicit portfolio management. They also seemed to suffer from problems that, in the literature, are considered symptomatic of inadequate portfolio management, such as having too many simultaneous projects, overcommitment in terms of workload, and ineffective executive decision making. In one of the studied organizations, the management personnel had recognized the need for explicit portfolio management and introduced portfolio management practices such as regular reviews of the project portfolio, appointing specific people for resolving cross-project conflicts, and limiting the number of concurrent projects to which a person can be assigned. The personnel we interviewed perceived clear improvements with respect to various challenges since the introduction of these practices. Our preliminary study suggests that explicit portfolio management is relevant for small software organizations, at least in cases in which the development personnel possess multiple roles and responsibilities and are concurrently performing many different types of activities. View full abstract»

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  • IT project portfolio optimization: A risk management approach to software development governance

    Page(s): 2:1 - 2:18
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    Little research has examined how to prioritize a portfolio of software projects. When project interdependencies are considered, the complexity of prioritizing even a small number of projects poses computational and evaluative challenges. We develop a prioritization approach to integrate real option analysis with a project portfolio optimization model. Our approach makes information technology (IT) portfolio risk management and valuation a meaningful tool for managers. Using real-world data, we implement the portfolio optimization model in a computationally feasible manner and demonstrate the superiority of our integrated optimization model. Our approach helps managers to make effective decisions, such as for investments in a service-oriented architecture, to enable flexible IT capabilities. When adaptability is paramount to success, managers can utilize our methods to inform themselves about the optimal timing of technology adoption decisions. Managers should recognize that IT investment decisions consist of many contingencies, so it is important to balance project-specific risks with the potential value derived across a multiperiod horizon. This permits us to make a contribution to the emerging discipline of software development governance in support of senior management decision making. View full abstract»

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  • Agile methods for software practice transformation

    Page(s): 3:1 - 3:12
    Save to Project icon | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (1376 KB)  

    In a large-scale distributed complex software engineering environment, the ability to rapidly evaluate and improve software engineering practices can be a key market differentiator. Practices that shorten the development cycle, cost-effectively improve quality, and align software with customer needs can have a direct impact on the business value delivered by the enterprise. The IBM Quality Software Engineering (QSE) organization motivates and enables teams across IBM business units and geographies to adopt recommended software engineering practices. QSE has historically established communities and used well-known organizational change management principles to help teams adopt and use recommended practices. In 2008 and 2009, QSE discovered that blending well-known organizational change management principles with agile software development principles enables communities to more consistently deliver significant value to their members. QSE Communities use Scrum, which is an agile project management framework, to prioritize their work on the basis of the communities' needs, plan their work every two weeks and then deliver value at the end of every two-week Sprint (iteration), demonstrate results, and obtain feedback and continuously improve by reflecting and identifying improvement actions at the end of each Sprint. Combining Scrum with proven steps to organizational change management has allowed QSE to rapidly motivate and enable software engineering improvements across IBM. View full abstract»

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  • Effective management of roles and responsibilities: Driving accountability in software development teams

    Page(s): 4:1 - 4:11
    Save to Project icon | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (995 KB)  

    Teams differ in the way they define roles and responsibilities and in the level of formalism by which they establish and communicate these definitions. Responsibilities are not always clearly defined, and there is often confusion or mismatch between the individual's perspectives of a role and the expectations of that role by other team members. This lack of shared understanding can lead to issues in performance and lack of accountability. We review the notion of role specification as part of software development governance and present an approach for specifying responsibilities in terms of decisions to be made during the life cycle of software development artifacts. We present evaluation data from software teams as they redefine their roles and shape their responsibilities. We further present a tool for governance specification based on this approach, which can ensure that these specifications are adhered to in the software development platform. We conclude by describing a methodology for how the tool and approach can be implemented to help software development teams understand and evolve the appropriate governance for their needs. View full abstract»

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  • Identifying trouble patterns in complex IT services engagements

    Page(s): 5:1 - 5:9
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    What causes complex information technology services engagements to fail? The root cause for the failure may derive from several sources, including unclear requirements, poor project management practices, underestimation of technical complexity, not accounting for the overhead in using global labor arbitrage, and rapid scope or schedule changes. In this paper, we explore how quantifiable measures of project progress gathered at several important stages of the life cycle of a project can aid in early identification of troubled projects. Specifically, we define derived statistical measures that can be used to predict the eventual outcome of a project. These predictions are used to initiate accelerated risk mitigation plans. In addition to the discussion surrounding the prediction models, we also discuss the importance of the “packaging” and presentation of the statistical data that result in the successful use of our system. Our work has been adopted and used in a project health management system that is deployed worldwide by IBM Global Business Services. View full abstract»

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  • Industry models for enterprise data management in financial markets

    Page(s): 6:1 - 6:13
    Save to Project icon | Click to expandQuick Abstract | PDF file iconPDF (2116 KB)  

    The subprime credit crisis of 2007 and the ensuing liquidity crisis in global financial markets highlighted weaknesses in the risk management processes and the information technology infrastructure of many financial market organizations. There are various dimensions to this, but underpinning many of the issues that have arisen is a failure to manage critical data pertaining to financial instruments, counterparties, and liquidity in an integrated and readily accessible fashion. To address this, various industry bodies, vendors, and financial institutions have considered the adoption of industry data models and classification standards for financial instruments and other business entities. In this paper, we describe the industry models that IBM has developed for the financial market industry for this purpose. We illustrate how these models can be used to successfully underpin an enterprise data management (EDM) infrastructure in a financial market organization, thereby addressing some of the key issues arising from the crisis as they pertain to the integrity and management of critical enterprise data. We draw comparisons to related EDM technologies and to the data standardization efforts of the EDM Council, a leading industry body for the financial market industry. View full abstract»

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  • Adaptive noise-predictive maximum-likelihood (NPML) data detection for magnetic tape storage systems

    Page(s): 7:1 - 7:10
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    Advanced data detection will be one of the key enablers to achieving the very high areal recording densities of future tape storage systems. Departing from the partial-response maximum-likelihood (PRML)-based read channel design traditionally used in tape systems, this paper describes noise-predictive maximum-likelihood (NPML) detection, which is a technique that has been known for many years in the hard-disk-drive industry but has been introduced for the first time in the tape storage industry in IBM tape drives. In the NPML read channel design, the readback signals are conditioned prior to data detection so that their noise components are statistically decorrelated and reduced in power. This paper describes the basic principles of NPML detection and its application to tape systems in the form of a 16-state detector. It is argued that, because of the inherent variability of the recording channel characteristics in tape drives, fully adaptive NPML detection needs to be realized in order to optimize detection performance. Actual readback waveforms of data recorded on metal particulate as well as barium-ferrite particulate tape media are used to illustrate the error rate performance achieved by 16-state and 32-state NPML detectors. It is shown that, under realistic worst-case channel conditions, a 16-state NPML detector could offer an improvement in error rate after an error-correcting code of approximately two orders of magnitude. View full abstract»

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  • A survey of hardware designs for decimal arithmetic

    Page(s): 8:1 - 8:15
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    Decimal data and decimal arithmetic operations are ubiquitous in daily life. Although microprocessors normally use binary arithmetic for computations, decimal arithmetic is often required in financial and commercial applications. Due to the increasing importance of and demand for decimal arithmetic, decimal floating-point (DFP) formats and operations are specified in the revised IEEE Standard for Floating-Point Arithmetic (IEEE 754-2008). This paper provides a survey of hardware designs for decimal arithmetic. It gives an overview of DFP arithmetic in IEEE 754-2008, describes processors that provide hardware and instruction set support for decimal arithmetic, and provides a survey of hardware designs for decimal addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Finally, it describes potential areas for future research. View full abstract»

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Aims & Scope

The IBM Journal of Research and Development is a peer-reviewed technical journal, published bimonthly, which features the work of authors in the science, technology and engineering of information systems.

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Meet Our Editors

Editor-in-Chief
Clifford A. Pickover
IBM T. J. Watson Research Center