Team Project Overview

Problem Statement for Fall 2015
Challenges of Team Projects
This course covers the design and engineering of computer software systems. As a student you have done many computing assignments that were likely small problems or single programs. You have not had to face the problems encountered in designing and implementing a larger system. The problems of large software systems are much different than the problems of small systems. Management of the effort and communication becomes more difficult than the programming. It's a big challenge to be sure all team members share the same understanding of the problem and it's solution. It's not enough to just solve your part of the problem, but your solution must integrate with the work of others.  Documentation grows exponentially with the size of the project. Configuration and version control arise as major project problems. Importantly, undisciplined and individualistic styles of software development won't work in a team setting and must mature into a process-oriented approach.

The result is a whole new set of problems that go far beyond the pure technical computer science issues.  The reality is that the most difficult aspects of any real-world software development effort are NOT the technical issues, but the "people" issues.  For 95% of software projects, we KNOW how to solve the technical problems, but projects fail because we haven't mastered the "people" problems. CSC 308 is about that new set of problems.

Most students enrolling in CSc 308 have had no experience of any systematic approach to software development.  Their concept of software development is usually vague and poorly defined.  One of the main goals of this class is for students to learn what are the elements of a disciplined, process-centered approach to software development.  Since there are many different kinds of software projects, no single process works for all of them.  However there are clearly recognized ingredients that a successful process will incorporate. The textbook explains these essential components to successful projects. The course web site has specific examples.  Your challenge will be to identify what ideas and methods will be useful to your specific project.  

Read this great advice from former students and examples of thrashing.

Project Planning

It is highly recommended that you create a project plan document so everyone on the team knows how you intend to achieve your goals for the project.   McConnell provides a template and the instructor has an example customized for our class.

Software Development Process

An important of your project plan is deciding what overall development process your team will use.  The development process defines the key project activities and the order in which they are performed.  Typically, the activities include 

Requirements Specification (including user interface prototyping)
Feasibility prototyping
High level Design
Detailed Design

Most projects for this course lend themselves to some variation of the Waterfall process.   The instructor strongly recommend the "Staged Delivery" implementation strategy advocated by McConnell. 

Infrastructure Activities
Infrastructure activities are those which span the boundaries of the phases outlined above. They are pervasive, on-going activities which support the entire development effort.  For this course, the three infrastructure activities we will be emphasizing are Project Management, Quality Assurance, and Configuration Management (aka Change Management).

Project management is concerned with plans, budgets, schedules, personnel assignments, tasks, milestones, and deliverables.  It's the management task to see that the project gets completed on time and within budget.

Quality Assurance is concerned with ensuring that the product conforms to customer requirements.

Configuration Management is essentially keeping all the project artifacts organized, especially the different versions of work products and software assets.

Team Effectiveness
    One of the course goals is to learn how to work cooperatively as an effective team. There are many factors contributing to effectiveness, including: achieving milestones on schedule, organizing effective technical reviews, submitting status reports, running organized team meetings, exhibiting professional attitude and behavior, equitable distribution of tasks, good communication, clear expectations and responsiblities, cooperation in resolving conflicts, and so on.

Since this may be your first experience working in a team, it is not expected that your team will operate ideally the first try. However, problems in team dynamics and functioning are part of the course, and you are expected to work toward resolving them. You are encouraged to consult with the instructor about strategies for overcoming difficulties. (The "Student Survival Guide" reference has many helpful hints.) If your team is struggling, it is crucial that you obtain instructor guidance early while there is still time to apply corrective strategies.

Mandatory Project Requirements

Your team is given the responsibility to determine the best way to carry out the project.  You are expected to read the textbooks, the course web site and other resources and apply the principles appropriately for the specific demands of your project.  However, there are a few requirements the instructor mandates (and even they are negotiable).

Group Name, Logo, Name Tags
Research has shown that teams with a strong identity are often more successful than those without.  One way to begin to establish an identity is by having a team name, logo, and (optionally) a motto. You will be given a specific lab activity to create your team name. Your team name should be prominently displayed on your web page and on all submissions.  When you submit individual assignments, like homework, also include which team you belong to.  Each person will have a name tag that includes the team name that will be worn at each team meeting.

Trac / wiki
The instructor will create for each team a Trac website that you are expected to use for all aspects of project control and tracking.   Use the ticket system for tracking tasks (action items).  Use the wiki for collaborative document preparation.  Use the Discussion/forum  for asynchronous discussion.   Please use this Trac wiki formatted home page template. The template serves to organize your teams work in a standard layout that makes it easy for the instructor to find documents you've created. This template is a skeleton that you will add more links to as your team creates the necessary documents for your project. Follow the SiteSetup directions. Complete the "About Our Team" section as a group activity.

Ticket guidelines:  Create a ticket for any task that is estimated will require more than 15 minutes to complete.  If a task is estimated to take more than a single work session (e.g., 90 minutes), decompose the task and create multiple tickets.

Time tracking
Each individual must record all time spent on the project (not lectures or assigned homework).  There are several alternatives for recording your time.

As recommended above your team should create a project plan, a key element of which is a planned schedule of activities. The schedule includes when you plan to submit each major work product (a "milestone").   You must have the schedule completed and approved by the instructor before the end of week 2.  You may customize this suggested schedule.

Work Products / Deliverables 
View the list of recommended project deliverables.

Formal Technical Review
Your must conduct at least one formal technical review of a work product with another team as reviewers.  It must be scheduled with another team and the instructor at least a week in advance.  Coordinate with the instructor so that each team serves both as reviewers and reviewees.

Tools List
Unless otherwise negotiated, it is assumed your team will use the tools on this list and source code will conform to the class coding standard.

Progress Report
The team manager submits a weekly team progress report electronically (or verbally - by arrangment) to the instructor.

Document History
1/2/2012 JD  Revised for Winter 2012
9/20/2011  JD  Prepared for Fall 2011