Develop products and systems with IBM Rational Solution for Systems and Software Engineering

Apply process templates and usage models to implement best practices

This article describes the process assets that are available for the Rational Solution for Systems and Software Engineering and its industry variants, and gives an overview of the mechanisms for how to deploy those practices.

Jonathon Chard (jon.chard@uk.ibm.com), Marketing Manager, Rational product and systems development, IBM

author photoJon Chard is the Marketing Manager for IBM Rational Systems and Software Engineering. He covers real-time and embedded software development and embedded agile. He has over 25 years’ experience with standards, technologies and development tools across the development lifecycle; including requirements management, systems and software modeling, quality management, and testing. Before moving to a technical marketing role in 2009, Jonathon spent eight years as an application engineer and consultant within IBM and formerly, with Telelogic. Prior to this he was a systems engineering practitioner within the automotive industry. 



Dan Popescu (dpopescu@us.ibm.com ), Product Management and Design - Practices Lead, IBM

author photoDan Popescu is a member of the Product Management and Design team. He is responsible for the process-related aspects of the IBM Rational Systems Solutions. He holds a Master of Science degree in Electrical Engineering and has more than 25 years of systems and software development experience in a number of industries: automation control, semiconductor equipment, telecom infrastructure, and tool development. Throughout the years he has served in a variety of roles including Software Architect, Team Lead, and Process Engineer. He lives in Vancouver, B.C. and enjoys the rain.



22 January 2014

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Introduction

Effective product and systems development requires more than the right tools. To deliver high quality results efficiently and repeatedly requires best practices throughout the development lifecycle. The IBM® Rational® Solution for Systems and Software Engineering is supported by a library of customizable best practices that cover many common development approaches and industry standards.

This article describes the process assets that are available for the Rational Solution for Systems and Software Engineering and its industry variants and gives an overview of the mechanisms to deploy practices. It also examines some of the key usage scenarios for practice content within projects. In some cases, the scenarios use the practice content without making any changes, and in other cases, the project customizes the practice content first.


Common themes

The process content that supports the Rational Solution for Systems and Software Engineering and its industry variants is targeted to different audiences and addresses their typical concerns. Although some of the content is industry-specific, a number of common themes apply across industries. For example, some content addresses the needs of systems engineers who apply model-based systems development approaches that are independent of the industry. Other content addresses the needs of a particular job role in a particular industry, such as a safety engineer in the aerospace industry.

Governance

"Say what you do, do what you say." The Rational Solution for Systems and Software Engineering supports the definition and capture of processes. It also provides an integrated enactment capability, which includes features such as templates and tool mentors that help practitioners to efficiently follow the defined process using Rational solutions. You can define the process content with the authoring features in IBM® Rational® Method Composer and export the main workflows to be followed throughout a project as work item templates. With work item templates, create the necessary work items in IBM® Rational Team Concert™. The Rational Method Composer and Rational Team Concert integration helps an organization to establish a solid governance model that can be applied to all projects.

Compliance

Many industries must comply with specific standards that have a direct effect on their processes. The Rational Solution for Systems and Software Engineering maps the objectives of a number of popular standards to the process elements (tasks, work products, workflows, and so on) that realize those objectives. These explicit relationships help reduce the effort dedicated to compliance audits.

Guidance for generic processes and for tools

The Rational Solution for Systems and Software Engineering products come with two types of process guidance: generic and tool-specific. Generic guidance describes the main tasks and work products in a tool-agnostic way. Tool-specific content, which provides information on how to perform a task with that tool, is captured by the tool mentor that is associated with the supported task. The tool mentors describe the process automation support or the recommended way to use a tool in a context.

This separation of generic process guidance from tool-specific guidance makes it easier to customize the same process to different tool environments and to develop more tool content, independent of generic process content.

Process in context

The process guidance is presented in context. Different mechanisms help make the guidance available in close proximity to the location where it applies. Examples of such mechanisms include:

  • Built-in hyperlinks within the description fields of Rational Team Concert work items that point to the corresponding process (task descriptions or workflows represented as activity diagrams).
  • Customization facilities in the Rational Team Concert project dashboard to make it possible to add links to specific process areas.

Features such as these improve the overall user experience and provide an easy way for users to follow organization-defined processes.

Customization

The published, commercial process content in the Rational Solution for Systems and Software Engineering is made available as part of a Rational Method Composer library. With Rational Method Composer, you can integrate published content and customized content. In most cases, organizations that use Rational Solution for System and Software Engineering will need to integrate these two.

Process tool integration

Most of the features mentioned in the previous sections are supported through different integration points between Rational Method Composer assets (library, WAR files and published websites) and the tools that make up the Rational Solution for System and Software Engineering. Some of these aspects are described in this paper, and others are embedded within the delivered content.


Process assets

Two types of process assets are included in the products that make up the Rational Solution for Systems and Software Engineering: process guidance and enactment support.

The process guidance targets a specific audience and addresses a number of common pain points or presents a new development approach (for example, model-driven-development). This content is based on the many years of field experience of IBM subject matter experts. It is captured within the Rational Method Composer library and follows standard architectural principles for Rational Method Composer content. A variety of industry-specific, process configuration examples are available as deployable WAR files or published websites. These are generated from Rational Method Composer industry-specific configurations.

The enactment support for each process configuration is contained in a corresponding Rational Team Concert process template. The process template also includes the work item templates that have been generated directly from Rational Method Composer, based on the defined workflows. These elements allow for different levels of integration with customized or out-of-the-box Rational Team Concert process templates. In other words, you can use a single work item template, a subset of work item templates, or the process template, which includes all the work item templates. In general, you can reuse work item templates across different process templates, for efficient reuse of the component parts of a process.


Mechanics of deployment

You can download the published commercial content from the IBM Rational Solution Process Assets page. These assets are available at no extra cost to customers who have active Rational Method Composer licenses.

For each solution, the main downloadable components are:

  • A WAR file: Includes content that can be viewed on a web browser. Install the WAR file on a web server.
  • A method library: Includes the customizable Rational Method Composer content

After the published content WAR file is deployed, you can browse the asset to learn how to further configure the tools and customize the solution (see the Getting Started folder). This folder also includes the Rational Team Concert process template (within which the work item templates are embedded) and instructions on how to import it into Rational Team Concert.

For more information see the IBM Rational Solution Process Assets page.


Usage models

Typically you want to customize the supplied process assets to suit your organization's environment and processes. You can choose different usage models according to your organization's needs. These usage models are not mutually exclusive and can be used in parallel on different projects. They can also be used as milestones on an evolutionary, process-adoption roadmap.

The standard usage model

You can use the process guidance and the Rational Team Concert process templates as they are, without customization. To use the standard guidance and templates, you need to:

  1. Deploy the process assets. (See Mechanics of Deployment.)
  2. Import the standard Rational Team Concert process template. (Follow the instructions in the Getting Started folder.)
  3. Create a new Rational Team Concert project area based on the imported process template.
  4. Get familiar with the process by browsing the content.
  5. Use the embedded work item templates to create work items that match the defined process.
  6. Assign the work items.
  7. Continue with the project and follow the documented process.

For a less intrusive usage model, use a different scenario. In this case, the project area can be based on any Rational Team Concert process template (standard or customized) and the main contact point to the deployed process is through the work item templates:

  1. Deploy the process assets. (See Mechanics of Deployment.)
  2. Import the standard Rational Team Concert process template. (Follow the instructions in the Getting Started folder.)
  3. Extract the work item templates. (For help, see the specific topic in the Rational Team Concert online help.)
  4. Select and import the required work item templates to the local process template that will be used.
  5. Create a new Rational Team Concert project area based on the local process template.
  6. Get familiar with the process by browsing the content.
  7. Use the embedded work item templates to create work items that match the defined process.
  8. Assign the work items.
  9. Continue with the project and follow the documented process.

The customization usage model

This usage model is the suggested way to use the process assets included with the products in the Rational Solution for Systems and Software Engineering. You need to integrate the supplied process content with your organization's processes. Rational Method Composer provides a rich set of features to support the integration process. With these features, you can tailor, extend, and manage content.

Customization scenarios in the context of a systems and software engineering solution are in two main categories:

  • Those that effect generic content
  • Those that effect tool-specific content

Each category has a different effect on the process assets. The generic extensions affect tasks, roles, work products, and workflows. The tool-specific changes require the addition, modification, or extension of tool mentors and tool-related guidance. The effect on process assets has three levels, based on which deployable assets have to change:

  • Low: Effects the WAR file only, in the case of a simple deployment
  • Medium: Effects the WAR file and the work item templates, in the case of a more complex deployment.
  • High: Effects the WAR file, work item templates, and process template (roles, work item types, and so on). Typically, changes to these occur only at the start of a new project.

Pre-requisites for the customization usage model:

  • Rational Method Composer.
  • Rational Method Composer Systems Solutions library. (The complete list of downloadable files is available on the IBM Rational Solution Process Assets page.)
  • The customer requirements for process integration. Typically, a process group or project management office supplies the requirements.

Environment-driven customization

In this scenario, the main workflows stay the same. The only change is that you adapt the proposed process to the tool environment. In general, you capture new tool guidance and associate it with existing elements (tasks and work products). This set of changes has a low effect on the process assets, because only the WAR file has to be republished and redeployed on the web server. The process and work item templates are not affected.

For environment-driven customization, use these steps, based on the generic company, XYZ. Refer to Figure 1 for context.

  1. Create a new plug-in (practice.tech.syseng.arch_analysis_key_sys.extend_am-xyz).
  2. Add a package for tool mentors and one for contributions and assignments (Tool Mentors and Assignments).
  3. Create a tool mentor and fill in the description fields (Finding Design Solutions with AM).
  4. Assign it to the supported task (create a task contributor - def_candidates_solutions_am).
  5. Create the tool element and assign the tool mentor to it (Asset Management).
  6. Add a practice contribution to the main practice for the new tool (create a practice contributor - arch_analysis_key_sys_am).
Figure 1. Environment-driven customization step in Rational Method Composer
Screenshot of environment-driven steps 1-6
  1. As shown in Figure 2, copy and paste the original configuration (SE Accelerator - SE), rename it (SSE Accelerator - XYZ) and add the new plug-ins to the configuration.
  2. Go to the Browsing Perspective and inspect the new elements.
Figure 2. Finish the environment-driven customization in Rational Method Composer
Screenshot of environment-driven steps 7 and 8

Screenshot of environment-driven steps 7 and 8

Process-driven customization

In this scenario, you tailor the standard workflows, (for example, you add a new task). This change has medium effect, because you need to republish and deploy the WAR file and update the work item templates with Rational Method Composer and Rational Team Concert and reimport the work item templates to Rational Team Concert.

For process-driven customization, use these steps. Refer to Figure 3 for context.

  1. Reuse the existing plug-in and create another package for tasks (named Tasks).
  2. Add a company-specific task (for example, Review Current Solutions).
  3. Add the new task to the Practice main description, by adding it to the references list of the practice contributor (arch_analysis_key_sys_am)
Figure 3. Process-driven customization steps in Rational Method Composer
Screenshot of process-driven steps1-3
  1. As shown in Figure 4, create a new process plug-in, under the process node (process.syseng.base-xyz).
  2. Create a new capability pattern (for example, Architectural Analysis - XYZ), based on the existing pattern for reference. Add the new task, and then create an activity diagram.
  3. Copy the main delivery process where this workflow is used and replace the original activity (Architectural Analysis) with the new one (new delivery process SE XYZ).
  4. Go to the newly created configuration, select the original process plug-in and add the new one (process.syseng.base-xyz).
Figure 4. Finish the process-driven customization in Rational Method Composer
Screenshot of process-driven steps 4-7

Deploy the customized work item template to Rational Team Concert

To export the work item template from Rational Method Composer, follow these steps as shown in Figure 5:

  1. Right-click the capability pattern you want to export as a work item template. All of the sub-activities and tasks marked as planned will be exported.
  2. Select the radio button Use RMC URLs.
  3. In this example (Systems Engineering) the base content URL is /SE_UC, which is the relative directory where the WAR file has been deployed.
  4. For the other solutions, use /ESW, /do178, or /iso26262.

Save the file in a local directory.

Figure 5. Export the work item template
Export steps in Rational Method Composer

Next, import the changed work item template into Rational Team Concert, as shown in Figure 6:

  1. Go to File/Import in Rational Team Concert.
  2. Select Work Item Template.
  3. Choose the project area where you want to install the new work item template.
Figure 6. Import the work item template into Rational Team Concert
Dialog to import the work item template

The template usage model

Another option is to use the proposed solution as a template for a fully customized solution. In this case, you need to capture your organization's processes in new library in Rational Method Composer. Deploy the corresponding Rational Team Concert assets (process and work item templates) with the Rational Method Composer and Rational Team Concert integration.

Prerequisites for the template usage model:

  • Rational Method Composer
  • The customer requirements for process integration. Typically, a process group or project management office supplies the requirements.

Although it is possible to build the entire process manually, we suggest you take advantage of the rich process content included in the Rational products. Use existing, proven processes where possible.

Other ways to use the content

You can use the process content to:

  • Provide an example
  • Communicate with the internal and external stakeholders
  • Transfer knowledge
  • Learn more about process
  • Benchmark your company's processes against IBM process content

For each of these applications, it is helpful to have a proven, centrally managed, and easy-to-access source of process content.


Evaluation scenarios

The published websites that capture process content have a similar layout and structure. This standardized format makes it easier to focus on the content, after you get to know the organization of a typical website. Generic usage scenarios can be used across solutions. Figure 7 shows a typical process layout for products in the Rational Solution for Systems and Software Engineering.

Figure 7. Evaluation process steps
Content by category in navigation area

The navigation area makes it easy for a practitioner to quickly go to a specific topic and the content area that displays the correspondent information. Each solution page has a Welcome page, which introduces the practitioner to the specific material (see Callout 1 in Figure 7). The rest of the entry points are driven by the following usage scenarios:

  1. Get started: Getting Started includes instructions on how to prepare the environment and special installation steps that have to be performed (see Callout 2.)
  2. Big picture: Presents the information from an overall process point of view and shows the main workflow. You can navigate into each activity, and drill down to the task level. Use the Delivery Process (see Callout 3) node.
  3. Practice-oriented: The content is organized around the main systems and software development areas. Use the Practices (see Callout 4) node and navigate to the practice you want to explore in more detail (for example, Architectural Analysis).
  4. Role-based: Each role is described in terms of skills and responsibilities, including the tasks performed and the relevant work products. Use the Role Sets (see Callout 5) node and navigate to the roles you are supposed to play as part of your project.
  5. Tool-focused: The guidance associated with the tools supporting the process can be reached by using the Tools (6) node.
  6. Reference: For a quick way to get to a specific task, work product or guidance, use the Tasks, Work Products, and Guidance (7) nodes.

If you are new to solution process content, get started with the following steps:

  1. Read the Welcome page.
  2. Read the Basic Process Concepts page under Getting Started. This guideline provides an introduction to the main process language and meta-model used to describe the process. The main terms are: work product, task, role, process and different types of guidance (guidelines, templates, tool mentors, and so on).
  3. Study the content layout and get familiar with different ways to navigate the content. Learn about the main usage scenarios.
  4. Choose the usage scenarios that are more relevant for your case. If you are interested in the big picture, start with the Delivery Processes and drill down into each activity as needed. If you want to understand your responsibilities based on the multiple roles you play within your organization or project, start with the Role Sets entry point.
  5. As you get more familiar with the content and the navigation mechanisms you can explore other perspectives (for example, Tools).

Conclusion

The Rational Solution for Systems and Software and Engineering and its associated industry solutions offer an efficient way to capture process content to use within projects. Choose the usage model that suits your organization: use the process assets as they are, without changes, or customize them to match your needs. All usage models employ the same process management and deployment tools and techniques. Processes can be reused or customized, to accommodate specific industry, organization, and project team needs.

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