NASA SBIR 2003 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 03- II F6.01-7128
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Crew Training and On-Board Crew Support
PROPOSAL TITLE: Workflow Based Software Development Environment

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Michel Izygon
1331 Gemini Avenue, Suite 300
Houston, TX 77058-2794
U.S. Citizen or Legal Resident: Yes

The goal of this proposed research is to investigate and develop a workflow based tool, the Software Developers Assistant, to facilitate the collaboration between different participants of multiple activities within a Software Development Process. Distributed development teams are becoming the norm for today?s software projects. These distributed teams are faced with the challenge of keeping software projects on track and keeping all involved developers using a consistent and efficient process. Workflow tools have been used for several years to support activities of distributed organizations such as the International Space Station Program. Workflow tools are efficient at automating very constrained and tightly controlled processes such as Change Requests processes. A Software Development Process, though, requires a more informal type of process automation allowing the project manager more control rather than enforcing tight rules through the workflow engine. Issues to be addressed during this project include researching the effects of multiple factors involved in the successful insertion of this technology within NASA organizations. Engine characteristics required to give flexibility to the software development team will be researched. Multiple processes will be captured within the workflow tool to evaluate different needs of process participants, such as Project Management, Requirements, Design, Implementation, and Testing.

A software development assistant workflow tool has commercial applications to all parties interested in software development. This tool can be applied to a broad range of areas, as any project management effort is (or should be) using a process centric approach. Over the past few years, there has been a strong trend to outsource part of the software development effort to foreign countries development teams. Difficulties arising from the widely distributed nature of the development effort have been noticed and projects failures have been reported. Using the SDA will mitigate a number of risks associated with this type of effort. The numerous companies currently outsourcing as well as companies which will outsource in the future are potential customers of our product.

The proposed project can directly be used by software development organizations within NASA as well as outside NASA. It will directly benefit the entire range of NASA Strategic Enterprises, as they all require a wide use of safe and efficient software. This will be achieved by advancing NASA's Software Engineering practices, through process improvement, support in software metrics capture and usage, infusion of software engineering research and technology, and enhancing engineering knowledge and skills. The proposed project can support this endeavor by helping NASA implements its software engineering best practices across software development efforts.