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A tool for scaling of software development

2016-01-13

Ulf Asklund, assistant professor

The Scaling Management Framework covers three domains: Organizations, Products & Services, and Processes & Methods. It also captures the relationships between these domains.

The SMF Canvas is a tool to organize the analysis of a scaling project, based on a whiteboard and post-it notes. The canvas is a representation of the SMF Model where the software model has been divided into both the three domains and also time: present (current) and future (wanted).

In order to stay competitive, companies in all lines of business need to master software development. The SCALARE (SCALing sofwARE) project is developing a software Scaling Management Framework that will help industry scaling up software.

SCALARE is a European project within EUREKA/ITEA with participation from Ireland, Germany, Spain, and Sweden.

This is an article about the SMF canvas – a tool for understanding and describing the scaling of software development. It was originally published in the Scalare magazine.

One of the core missions of the Scalare project is to create a tool which may help organizations scale up their software development. The result is the SMF Canvas, based on the Scaling Management Framework model.

Scaling software development is a complex undertaking which can be organized in a number of ways. For example, staffing up the organization will most certainly not work without additional changes to the processes, development tools and the architecture of the product.

“How all this fits together is not always very clear,” says Ulf Asklund, assistant professor at the Faculty of Engineering at Lund University. “But it is apparent that a change that is well analyzed, motivated, and described is much easier to implement.”

A central scaling dilemma is that there is often a lack of competence in precisely those areas where the organisation needs to grow. Without an objective model to evaluate the needs and capabilities, it is easy to end up with a solution which is based more on old capabilities than on future needs. Other impediments for a successful scaling process are time pressure, internal politics and dependency on key personnel. 

Accordingly, there is a need for a model which can help management make an objective analysis together with the organization and take the right decisions. 

This model should also describe different alternative solutions from experiences gained in case-studies and previous usage of the model. Finally, it should provide a basis for change communication so that managers can explain and motivate the changes.

“When we created the Scaling Management Framework model in the Scalare project, our purpose was to address the questions and challenges organizations face when they need to scale up their software development,” says Ulf Asklund. “To handle it, we also created the SMF canvas to support the analysis of the current situation and the development of the scale to a wanted position. These tools may be used by totally different organizations – either traditional software companies or hardware companies that intend to make their products smart and connected.”

Ulf Asklund is an assistant professor at the Faculty of Engineering at Lund University. His research area is software development with focus on distributed development and configuration management. He has also worked for Sony Mobile as Enterprise Configuration Manager, being responsible for the CM Standard and system owner for PLM.

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