Efficient vendor governance in a multisourcing environment: integration is one key aspect
A three-year pilot project ‘GloBuS – Global Bus Software’ – funded by the Information & Communication Technology program (ICT) of the Bavarian State Ministry for Economic Affairs, Infrastructure, Transport & Technology (StMWIVT) – intends to develop an open bus system for automation in vendor governance.
The Munich-based startup pliXos cooperates with Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Manfred Broy, the Chair of Software & Systems Engineering at the Technische Universität München, within the framework of the ICT. The aim of the three-year project is to develop an independent project bus, which allows the effective integration of our Outsourcing Director product suite, with the currently most important and most widely used tools in the market for the software development lifecycle (SDLC). It will cover the most important trends with regards to the control of globally distributed software development projects (offshore/nearshore software development) and will develop and provide solutions for corporations and small to medium-sized enterprises. Therefore one part of the project consists of the necessary research as well as preliminary tests in real scenarios. Well-known industry partners are supporting the project.
Outsourcing and – especially – offshoring are the result of the intensification of the international division of labour and of the specialisation and cooperation of companies, including more and more small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). This implies that, in order to get transparency and high efficiency during the process of outsourcing and offshoring, a high level of automated information exchange between the parties is in great demand by most companies nowadays.
Although there are some tools for the planning of projects and for the processing of specific disciplines of the software project life cycle (e.g. requirements management, effort tracking, testing), in most cases, a unified view and a suitable reporting about offshore software projects seems missing. Nevertheless, the most ambitious projects such as test automation or the outsourcing/offshoring of parts of labour can only be successful if they are approached correctly and all the necessary prerequisites are met. For this reason, the necessary research and analysis of all major systems on the market and preliminary tests in real-case scenarios are an important part of this project.
Accordingly, the subject of this project is to conduct a comprehensive analysis of the current status of this research area and to develop procedures, methods and tools for managing distributed software development projects. The individual features of this project in comparison to the others would be:
1. Standardised exchange formats for the functions connected with distributed project managements e.g.:
- Project planning
- Requirement management
- Effort estimation
- Development progress
2. Standardised API to connect various applications and locations with each other;
3. A standardised way to connect to the bus and define “routing paths” to the outlying service partners;
4. Secure implementation.
The automation aims also to ensure a high, uniform and effective level of safety for companies by creating an independent project bus which will provide the enterprises with the technical assistance needed and with a high level of expertise in order to help them to control the process of outsourcing properly and to monitor its implementation.
The following figure illustrates the basic realisation concept.
The core of the project comprises a specially developed project bus which connects globally distributed locations and its various tools (“typical architectures service providers”). The individual tools can send messages to the bus or receive messages from it. These messages include information on the results and their linkage, on the processors and their communication and on the process implementation.
The tools communicate using a standardised data format. The exchanged messages (arrows) have a minimal scheme with precisely defined semantics. The project bus has a central component (in the picture referred to as GloBuS) for planning and controlling the communication. Two further components are ‘sitting’ in the bus monitor and evaluate the sent messages:
- the component ‘process monitor’ which monitors the messages against the predefined and standardised exchange process and detects process divergences; and
- the component ‘rights monitor’ which verifies the sent messages in terms of existing rights and decides if the message is allowed to be forwarded or not.
The minimalism and standardisation are key aspects of the project bus. This ensures that the interfaces between the tools and the project bus remain very slim; therefore, new locations and new tools can be connected very quickly. In addition, the project bus enables users to integrate new solutions, which seem to just get importance with the rise of agility in SW development. Therefore, the concept developed by this project allows small- and medium-sized software companies to monitor their planned and real processes efficiently based on individual clearance and to focus on the critical stages of activity. Furthermore, the project is also the first important step to an automated collection of parameters for future benchmarking. A transfer or scaling and a road map for further development will be designed on the basis of evaluations of the project.
We also consider the cooperation with the Technische Universität München as a next step in its program to increase the transparency and success rates in software development. This is especially true when using globally distributed teams and agile processes. This three-year-long innovation project will allow the company to actively work on further innovative topics on top of product development funded by venture capital. Supported by friendly user test of corporations, the goal is to transfer the results of this project to an autonomous product.
Update: the author has set up a survey to better understand the actual usage of tools and interests from a user’s perspective. You can carry out the survey here.