Agile practices enactment with Rational Team Concert and Rational Method Composer

Introduction

IBM Rational Team Concert can improve the productivity of your teams and the quality of the work they produce by allowing each team to define the practices they will follow. In Rational Team Concert you can define the process template to be used by your team. The process template defines the rules to be applied in your team's daily activities - Rational Team Concert uses this knowledge to automatically detect violations of your teams' process the moment they happen. In the process template you can also define the process guidance (such as techniques, artifact templates, life cycle, etc) that team may need to consult to perform their activities. See the following link for more information on Rational Team Concert process templates.

This article introduces one example of practices enactment in Rational Team Concert. Here we show a sample process template, the IBM Practices for Agile Delivery which maps agile software development tasks defined in IBM Rational Method Composer. This process template is available for download (see Resources section).

This process template utilizes the work item template capability available with Rational Team Concert 2.0.0.2. Work item templates give you a way to create a set of work items in an automated fashion and populate them with preset attributes and links. A template can cover generic workflow patterns, such as a specific sequence of tasks or a set of actions that are independent but have to be specified frequently. For example, work items that reflect repeating tasks in different project iterations can be created simply by instantiating a template for each iteration. See the following link for more information on work item templates.

Overview of practices

A practice can be defined as a set of techniques for accomplishing a goal. In terms of software development, a practice:

  • Addresses one aspect of the software development lifecycle, such as requirements, planning, development, testing, and so on
  • Evolves as improvements are discovered over time
  • Is based on what has been proved successful, not on abstract scientific principles

The agile practices content in this process template are documented using Rational Method Composer. The work breakdown structure (activities and tasks) that are documented in this process are mirrored as work items in a matching Rational Team Concert process template. This saves time in creating work items, and ensures consistency with the process. The work items contain links to the corresponding process guidance to help team members find the guidance that they need to do their work. The IBM Practices for Agile Delivery process template includes core agile development practices, such as: iterative development, release planning, whole team, and continuous integration, as well as other practices of interest to most teams, such as: shared vision, user story-driven development, evolutionary design, evolutionary architecture, concurrent testing, test management, team change management, and risk-value lifecycle.

See the following link to learn more about the IBM practices.

Installing and using the process assets

To install a process template in Rational Team Concert, you must have administrator privileges on your Jazz server.

Follow these steps to install the process template.

  1. Download the IBM Practices for Agile Delivery process template (see Resources section).
  2. Import the process template (the file named practices-agile-delivery_process_template.zip) into your Rational Team Concert repository. See the online help topic Importing Process Templates (web UI) or import using the Eclipse client for more information.
  3. Install the published IBM Practices for Agile Delivery process description (the file named process_for_agile_delivery.war). See more information about this step on the article named: Agile delivery of software with Rational Team Concert and Rational Method Composer - How to set up a project based on the process template in Rational Team Concert which is included with the process template download.

Once the process template and process description are installed in Rational Team Concert, they are available for you to create projects. When you create a project using this process template, you can follow the process guidance provided by the process description to create a project plan and iteration plan. These plans can follow the artifact template suggested by the process description.

You can create and populate each iteration plan with work items such as tasks to be performed by the team. You can create work items either manually or by using the pre-defined work item templates available in this process template to create the tasks assigned to each iteration.

You can also add user stories that will be developed in each iteration, then have team members estimate them and sign up for developing and testing those user stories.

Each work item of type task instantiated from the available work items templates will by default have a link to the corresponding process description for that task, so team members have access to the guidance needed to perform that task.

Please watch this video demonstrating these capabilities mentioned here.

Final remarks

This article briefly introduced an example of practices defined in Rational Method Composer mapped to a corresponding process template in Rational Team Concert in order to allow practices to be available and enacted in the environment where team members collaborate and perform their daily activities.

For a more in-depth view on the mapping between Rational Method Composer and Rational Team Concert, including a step-by-step description to use this process template in a project, please read the article named: Agile delivery of software with Rational Team Concert and Rational Method Composer - How to set up a project based on the process template in Rational Team Concert, which is available with the process template download.

The process assets referred by this article are available for download (see Resources section).

Alternatively, these assets are available as part of the IBM Measured Capability Improvement Framework (MCIF) for Agile Delivery 1.1, a service offering that includes training and consulting provided by IBM to support teams adopting agile practices and related tools. If you are interested in this service offering, please contact your IBM representative.

Resources


About the author

Ricardo Balduino is a senior software engineer at IBM, leading and contributing to the development of solutions such as Eclipse Process Framework, IBM Practices, IBM Measured Capability Improvement Framework, Jazz-based solutions, and the Rational Unified Process. His 15 years of experience in the software industry also includes developing software for industrial process automation and financial services, as well as delivering training and consulting services to help organizations adopt formal and agile software development practices. Ricardo is a certified Scrum Master and certified Project Management Professional (PMP). He holds a B.S. degree in computer sciences from Sao Paulo State University, Brazil, and an M.S. degree in software engineering from San Jose State University, USA.

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