-- Application Development Effectiveness Process Transition Modern technology
enables today's corporations to strategically locate business offices
throughout the country, even across the world in some cases. A company
having numerous geographic locations serves market demand and accommodates
customer need, but in terms of software engineering, operations existing
separately can potentially cause incompatibility among methodologies and
hinder the company's capability to deliver services, satisfy customers
and manage companywide projects.
In November 1995, United Airlines' Information Services Division (ISD)
found itself facing such circumstances with its four geographic locations
-- Denver, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Chicago. With the intention
of eliminating the discrepancies among locations, United hired Jim Earnhardt
to pilot its Application Development Effectiveness Process Transition
"What was going here was that United was unable to deliver, it had
poor customer satisfaction, no project management and low morale among
its employees," Earnhardt said. United needed to develop and implement
a standard project management process and methodology at the four locations.
In January 1996 Earnhardt, director Architecture and Technology/ADEPT,
began the effort to build higher quality products to meet customers' needs
on time and within budget and to define a repeatable process to improve
the consistency and standardization of the best practices across ISD.
To achieve its goals, Earnhardt said United followed the Software Engineering
Institute's (SEI) Capability Maturity Model (CMM) and the Level 2 Key
Process Areas (KPAs). According to SEI, Level 2 is defined as repeatable,
and in order to achieve this status "basic project management processes
are established to track cost, schedule and functionality. Realistic project
commitments are based on previous projects and tailored to the requirements
of the current project."
"We found the criteria for Level 2 to meet our needs as an organization,"
Level 2 CMM KPAs are as follows: requirements management; software project
planning; software project tracking and oversight; software subcontract
management; software quality assurance (SQA); and software configuration
In order to implement ADEPT, LBMS Process Engineer Guide online repository
was rolled out to the applications development department, according to
Earnhardt. This included 14 process templates for everything from initiating
a project to the maintenance efforts of those projects already implemented.
The rollout also included several shells and checklists as sample deliverables.
Primavera Project Planner (P3) scheduler was implemented and rolled out
to project planners. SQA and SCM techniques were also included within
the scope of the project, Earnhardt said.
LBMS provided a "rollout" process template that was initially
used and then adjusted as the project progressed. United used some of
the same processes and tools that were being implemented as part of the
project. This included some of the LBMS processes as well as P3 as the
scheduling tool. P3 was selected because of the capabilities it provided
-- multiple project support, reporting and analysis tools, resource management
and integration with the LBMS methodology, according to Earnhardt.
ISD wanted to use the existing OS on the user workstations, but they
still needed upgrading in order to support the tools being implemented.
What made this even more difficult was the fact that each workstation
was configured differently both within and between geographic locations,
according to Earnhardt. In addition, the network infrastructure could
not handle the capacity/traffic required for United's client/server applications.
With the problem identified and a means to a solution selected, Earnhardt
admitted ISD still faced the challenge of communicating the "achievable
and worthwhile" benefits of ADEPT. He added, "It was a big challenge
to include all 800 plus application developers across four different geographic
sites in the initial rollout of the ADEPT processes."
ISD invested a lot in the training and education of all applications
development personnel, according to Earnhardt. "We also provided
project support, presentations and lots of patient reiteration of the
benefits," he continued.
Earnhardt said that is part of the reason United found the project innovative.
Other reasons included the resource constraints. Throughout the 19 months,
United required an average of 10 people to bring ADEPT to fruition.
"We've had a major culture change here at United," Earnhardt
said. "Our customer satisfaction is higher, we have a better defined
scope and our defect rate has reduced."
United also implemented innovative means to maintain the methodology
status, according to Earnhardt. Beginning with process coaches to mentor
the staff and keep track of any issues that may arise with the new process
in place, ISD also provided senior management support every few months.
Lastly, Earnhardt said, "My involvement played a large part. I was
completely dedicated to this project. It helped to have the visibility
and support from the director level." Earnhardt continues to take
classes to maintain the effectiveness of ADEPT at United and said a SEI/CMM
Level 3 rating is in the near future.
- Denise M. Dubie
|JIM EARNHARDT, director,
architecture and technology/ADEPT
ANDY STUDDERT, senior vice president and CIO; sponsor
DIANE SHAW, ADEPT project manager
MIDU BANSAL, systems analyst
CHRIS CANTRELL, Senior staff analyst
SUMAN SHARMA, staff programmer analyst
RICH BENSON, staff engineer
RICH GLEASON, staff engineer
NANCY HUSS, systems design analyst
PEGGY SPROUL, staff engineer
MIKE ACOSTA, senior staff analyst
CHRIS MAGIERSKI, senior. systems design analyst
MARION JEWISS; IMI contractor
BARBARA KOLKHORST; IBM Global Services contractor
KEVIN MCGUIRE; Austin-Taylor Consulting contractor
MAX DAVE; LBMS contractor
Achieving a Software Engineering Institute Capability Maturity Model Level
2 rating. Instituting a standard process allowing United to develop information
systems faster and at a lower cost, while still maintaining quality.
LBMS Process Engineer, LBMS Inc.
Primavera Project Planner (P3), Primavera Systems Inc.
Timesheet Professional, Primavera Systems Inc.
Windows 3.1 desktops with a Novell server located in each geographic location.
LBMS Process Guide and Primavera Project Planner (P3) are installed on the