The rapid development of new tools and operating environments has meant that many information systems development management staff have little understanding of the technical issues and risks involved in these new technologies. As we have said, a key role of a project manager is to manage risk. Rapidly changing technology increases risks dramatically.
Technical managers must understand the technology sufficiently to assess risk and act appropriately. The management structure might need to change to ensure that managers are close enough to the technical issues to manage risk. This generally means flattening the structure and devolving responsibility. The implications of this type of change extend to all facets of the information systems development organization, including organizational structures, salary and reward structures, skills planning, and training.
If a project involves prototyping, it might be necessary to give more responsibility at lower levels for managing user relationships and expectations. Prototyping provides an opportunity for developers to work more closely with users and to become more involved with business issues.
Get a Process
Project managers must plan the project and use an appropriate process to deliver the application. The approach they adopt should be based on the business and technical architectures and the project risks. The approach can be pure waterfall, spiral, incremental, or evolutionary. The life-cycle model used should not be dictated by a method but should instead be based on the characteristics of the project. Standards are no substitute for a project manager's experience and judgment.
Given the technical complexity of Visual Basic 6 distributed development, any approach must allow sufficient time for architecture and physical design. Doing these tasks up front can provide significant productivity gains by reducing rework and allowing more tasks to be carried out in parallel.
If Visual Basic 6 distributed development is used for high-profile and high-risk projects, a number of issues need to be addressed. A formal approach to the management, specification, design, and development of applications will be needed. A risk-driven design method that focuses on creating an appropriate application architecture will have to be created.
Visual Basic 6 distributed development lends itself to object-oriented analysis and design and to rapid development. Object techniques can be used to enhance communication between users and development professionals. Version 6 has further extended the object-oriented character of Visual Basic. To make best use of Visual Basic, the development process must reflect this character and take advantage of it. This endeavor will bring challenges in developing the skills of staff and managers.
Visual Basic 6 offers a range of productivity features that must be integrated into the development process. The public ActiveX interface of Visual Basic and the extensibility and configurable integrated development environment (IDE) provide the opportunity to integrate Visual Basic and other tools that automate and control the development process. To exploit fully the power of Visual Basic 6, you need to take its features into account in the development process.
Please refer to Appendix C for details of the TMS Developer's Framework, which combines Visual Basic 6 standards and base code to boost quality and productivity.