Thanks to our previous experiences in software development for Enterprise management, we have identified a real need of software production methods with a strong theoretical background. The goal of the project ORCA is to ensure the quality of such methods addressing five main requirements:
- Only if a precise conceptual framework is established, it is feasible to achieve an accurate representation of concepts in a practical environment.
- These methods must be flexible enough to deal with the project contingencies following the principles enacted by the method engineering community.
- Both functional and non-functional requirements must be taken into account.
- An empirical framework is required to evaluate not only the resulting software but also the techniques and methods applied.
- It is essential to provide a technological infrastructure to properly support the aforementioned requirements.
With the aim of providing an operational methodological solution that addresses these five requirements, the Orca project is organized around five main goals
Goal 1 deals with the specification of a conceptual framework for the ORCA project. As has been introduced above, the scope of the project is focused in the early stages of the software development process (organisational modelling, business process analysis, and requirements specification).
By taking the principles of the Systems Theory, organisational needs should be analysed from a systemic point of view. In this way, the interactions between organisational systems and its environment are the main focus of our study. For example, in the case of public administrations citizens play the main role to be analysed; in the case of enterprises that produces goods and services, a sector of the market is the main focus. In this kind of complex scenarios of organisational analysis, it is necessary to follow an approach of constant refinements. As a result, systems are decomposed in subsystems; subsystems can be specified in terms of business processes and workflows; the main elements of workflows are the business activities. The analysis of organisational systems should consider all the former constant refinements to support the needs of real world enterprises.
Goal 2 deals with the modelling of any issue beyond this border; in other words, the interactions with the organizational system and the information system. Each business activity can be decomposed into interactions with a smaller granularity, which corresponds to the interface specification that will automate the information system.
Goal 3 deals with the modelling of software system interactions; in other words, the interface with the technology. We are evolving from describing communication necessities of the industry to design how to support those necessities.
Goal 4 consists in establishing a framework to allow method designers to empirically validate the quality of the methodological proposals. This goal also aims to provide techniques to help software developers to evaluate the quality of the products under development. As quality factors that we aim to evaluate are the appropriateness of modelling techniques regarding development of IT projects, the functional size of the methods that compose the requirements specification and the usability of software systems.
Goal 5 addresses the technological support of the results produced by the previous goals. Special emphasis will be placed on environments and tools that support Model-driven Software Development. This kind of environments are well known for facilitating the work of development teams and increasing the productivity of software development enterprises.
We must understand that these goals help to give structure to the project in their fundamental aspects (theory, proposals, praxis and support); instead of being watertight compartments of resources. Along the project, interdisciplinary teams will be established, whose personnel will be highly qualified for the specific goal to address. However, due to the interweaving nature of the different project aspects, collaborative work will be fostered. For instance, the empirical validation of proposals defined in goals 1, 2 3 and 5 correspond to goal 4. Similarly, the implementation of tools oriented to support the proposals of goals 2, 3 and 4 correspond to goal 5. This kind of procedure puts in practice the integration of several disciplines.
Óscar Pastor López
Period: 2012 – 2015
Generalitat Valenciana ( PROMETEO program for research groups of excellence)