Managing Domain Processes

Managing Domain Processes

Domain processes are the interrelated activities specific to the functioning of the organization for which a software project is developed. The measure of quality for a software project is based on how well the software solves particular domain-related problems. For the software customer, the view is from his business domain, not that of a computer scientist or software engineer. To deliver quality software, the project manager must understand the domain for which the software solves particular requirements.

There are fundamental questions to answer to understand the domain in which the project manager is working. These questions result in a matrix set where product class domains are mapped to product types and the software components delivered.

After the domain has been categorized, the difference between the project and product life cycles must be understood. These differences are very obvious for both commercial and public projects. Understanding that development is just the first step in a product's life cycle is important in communicating the necessity for quality project management practices to customers.

Domain processes that are common to all organizations are criteria definitions for project selection models, project portfolio analysis, and the communication of basic financial ratios for project analysis. Each of these common domain process management activities will be discussed in this section.

"Process Overview", provided an understanding of the basics of process management and how that fits into the front end of the project life cycle. "Selecting Software Development Life Cycles", provided the descriptions of commonly used software development life cycles and the selection criteria for each. This section frames the project with respect to the domain in which it will eventually function. This is the project manager's opportunity to frame the software delivered in the voice of the customer.

Managing domain processes requires a framing of the software development project within the organization. The following figure shows how the corporate, product, and project life cycles relate. The corporate business life cycle produces many products. These products are in different life cycle phases at any one point in time. A product life cycle begins after a need has been identified and when project conception is begun. A healthy corporation has many products and a managed number of projects under development. Each product may have one or more than one project in execution at any one time to complete the product family. Projects have a defined start and end point. In the product life cycle, a project begins after practicability and is carried out within the product acquisition phase. The project begins at initiation based on acquisition requirements and ends at delivery, when the project deliverables are placed into operation.

Life Cycle Relationships

The objective of any computer-based system is to provide assistance in meeting an organizational goal or objective, to support a business goal, and/or to develop a product that is sold to make business revenue. Computer-based systems are more than software. Building quality software requires that hardware, people, data, documentation, and procedures be accounted for somewhere within the development life cycle.

A project manager must be able to describe criteria for project selection. There will always be more projects than resources to sufficiently carry out those projects. One of the key topics in this section is the definition of those criteria and taking them into a model structure for decision.

The ability to analyze a portfolio of projects and select the "best" one based on all known information is a skill that all project managers need to have. Portfolio management looks at projects from the point of view of a return on investment based on what an organization feels is an efficient internal rate of return. This financial view of selecting projects is suitable for any size of organization, in any stage of maturity. It levels projects to a common comparative measure: money.

Understanding basic financial ratios for project analysis is part of evaluating projects for selection and existing projects within an ongoing portfolio. In this section, we will review the major ratios with respect to the DuPont financial analysis model.


software project, life cycle, project management, project deliverables
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