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Software operation management

By N. Gkerpini


With the entrance of new technologies and disciplines in the Software Industry, competition has arisen and effective product management is crucial for the success of the software product. Software operation knowledge has been proven beneficial for decision-making in the field of software maintenance. To go a step further, this thesis investigates how software operation knowledge can support decision-making in software product management. It was found that in order to support decision-making there is a need to confront three major challenges that result in uncertainty regarding product decisions: (a) limited information concerning the product, (b) stakeholders’ disagreement, and (c) ill-defined business goals. To deal with these challenges, we propose a new discipline of management, software operation management. The SOM method suggests five main steps for effectively managing SOK: (1) Top-Down Identification of SOK utilization goals, (2) Acquisition of software operation information, (3) Presentation of software operation information, (4) Interpretation of information into SOK, and (5) Documentation of SOK. In addition, two more optional activities have been suggested: (i) Identification of Stakeholders’ involvement in decision-making and (ii) Bottom-Up Identification of SOK utilization. The main deliverable of the method is the SOK Rationale, which documents decisions that are based on SOK. In order to examine this new concept in practice, a single-case study was conducted at GX Software. Next, the implementation of the proposed method activities in a real-world setting has triggered refinements and improvements in the SOM method and resulted in its successful validation. Besides that, the method was evaluated quantitatively and qualitatively by a software product manager and six stakeholders involved in SPM decision-making. Apart from the Identification of Stakeholders’ involvement, the SOM method and its deliverables were successfully evaluated. The results were positive:  First, the SOM method has been proven capable of dealing with the challenges in SPM decision-making.  Second, there are two external factors that might affect the results of SOM method, the experience and knowledge of the method user regarding the product and the product strategy, as well as situational business unit factors.  Finally, the lesson learn is that though SOK provided valuable insights regarding the product, product managers still need to examine external factors that might affect decisions, and not blindly follow the data. The main limitations of this research were the limited research duration, the cost constrains, the unique characteristics of the case product and the experience of the user of SOM method. However, these limitations triggered the proposal for further research, regarding the extension and the applicability of SOM discipline in other fields, which we highly recommend

Topics: software operation knowledge, software product management, software operation management
Year: 2013
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