Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Embedded Software Risk Areas -- Project Management -- Part 1

Series Intro: this is one of a series of posts summarizing the different red flag areas I've encountered in more than a decade of doing design reviews of industry embedded system software projects. You can read more about the study here. If one of these bullets applies to your project, you should consider whether that presents undue risk to project success (whether it does or not depends upon your specific project and goals). The results of this study inspired the chapters in my book.

Here are some of the Project Management red flags (part 1 of 2):
  • No version control
Sometimes source code is not under version control. More commonly, the source code is under version control but associated tools, libraries, and other support software components are not. As a result, it may be difficult or impossible to recreate and modify old software versions to fix bugs.
  • No backward compatibility and version management plan
There is no plan for dealing with backward compatibility with old products, product migration, or installations with a mix of old and new product versions. The result may be incompatibilities with fielded equipment or a combinatorial explosion of multi-component compatibility testing scenarios necessary for system validation.
  • Use of cheap tools (software components, etc.) instead of good ones
Developers have inadequate or substandard tools (for example, free demo compilers instead of paid-for full-featured compilers) because tool costs can’t be reckoned against savings in developer time in the cost accounting system being used. As a result, developers spend significant time creating or modifying tools to avoid spending money on tool procurement.

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