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IBM Rational Method Composer: Choose Method Over Madness
Software and systems development can be maddeningly frustrating. Understanding where you are in the "process", how you got there, and where to go from here is often unclear. At times it seems like everyone is following their own process despite earnest efforts of project managers and process engineers to "standardize" the process with which work is done. 

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  • Even when a development process based on industry accepted best practices is adopted as the organizational standard, there are frequently just enough customizations and variants of the process to introduce uncertainty and confusion. What is needed is a way to codify and publish the details of your unique process so the entire team can operate from the same playbook. Clear, consistent communication is essential. Team members need to understand their role and responsibilities and their relationship with other team members.

    Overcome Information Overload
    In this ever-changing world, software and systems organizations have a plethora of tools, technologies, and best practices to choose from. There are new technologies and techniques such Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA), J2EE, .NET, wikis, agile and iterative programming, to name a few. In addition, teams have to worry about internal guidance, such as corporate standards for compliance, standards for development, and lessons learned from past project experience. Put them all together and you have a lot of information to digest in many different forms and formats.

    So what if you took all this information, represented it in a standardized way, and placed it in a library? Content could be organized by roles, tasks, work products, templates, activities, and tools. Relationships between each could be identified, such as which roles perform certain tasks, how those tasks are performed, and what are the work products (input and output) of the tasks. You could then add guidance, templates, and descriptions, and you would have a comprehensive library of reusable content for process participants to learn from and adhere to. In addition, because it is organized in a standardized way, the library could be easily customized and extended.

    Compose Your Process
    Just as a composer writes music for others to perform, Rational Method Composer lets you be the composer of a process that others can reliably execute. Not all organizations are the same. In fact, not all projects within an organization are the same. The Rational Process Library, included in Rational Method Composer, includes not only the well known IBM Rational Unified Process, or RUP, but also best practices guidance for many other processes. Rational Method Composer provides a reusable process library that allows project managers or process engineers to build a process framework of reusable method content specific to their project.

    Since development projects are as varied as snowflakes we can take elements in the library and configure them to suit the process. For example, an SOA project and a maintenance project both have some similar and dissimilar activities. Managing the projects will be similar, but building a new service versus maintaining existing code is a whole different game. Rational Method Composer provides a framework and Eclipse-based tools that allow you to author new content, customize and extend existing content, and configure and publish the methods that turn your process into reality.

    Organizations that have a process in place may want to use the best from RUP but also include their own information. RUP provides the framework for such a process. It supplies the important components that comprise any process: Who does what—or roles; what they do—or activities; how they do it—or tools; and what they produce—work products or artifacts. Rational Method Composer and the Process Library offer a proven and practical solution to create repeatable development processes. A repeatable process means more efficiency, less rework and confusion, and better quality.

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