MY RESEARCH INTERESTS
ABOUT MY RESEARCH
Inside Industry Initiative
THE INSIDE INDUSTRY
Life Costing of IT Systems and Other Metrics Analysis
Cost Benefits of using IT within Companies to Improve Communication
the Business Change Required for E-Commerce Implementation
From Successful Software Project Management
OTHER CURRENT RESEARCH
the Requirements Elicitation Process
Relational Databases to Object-Oriented Databases
Software Engineers for the Real World
Software Project Planning
Legacy Financial IT
ABOUT MY RESEARCH
I am interested in the methods of software development actually used and
practiced in business and industry. My research is focused on working towards
a greater understanding of the systems and processes that actually take
place in the real world. The overall aim is to develop better methods for
estimation, planning and execution of software development projects that
can and will be adopted by industry. To achieve this my philosophy is to
work with business and industry whenever possible, researching into their
methods to find what works well and what does not, and putting any ideas
into practice in a real working environment.
To progress this research I have instituted an "Inside Industry Initiative"
to set up projects examining working methods within a number of businesses.
In addition, I have a number of other projects that involve working with
different companies in different ways. These research projects are described
The Inside Industry Initiative
The Inside Industry Initiative research involves working with industry
by placing PhD, MSc or undergraduate students inside the companies themselves.
This is achieved either by company employees becoming part time research
students or by placing full time students in company departments working
alongside company employees for a significant proportion of their time.
In this way the students can analyse the available company data and internal
processes to gain an insight that would not be possible for an external
observer. An emphasis on quantifying the costs of developing and operating
IT systems has been an important aspect of much of this research as I believe
that cost is the most readily understood metric for assessing systems in
a commercial environment and provides the most persuasive argument for
any proposals made.
The research carried out so far involves two basic approaches:
The companies that are taking part in this initiative are:
Empirical research, examining company records to discover new knowledge
about the company systems.
Process tracking to identify and evaluate the systems in place and prototyping
to explore how new process ideas are received in the working environment.
Rolls-Royce Power Engineering, who have sponsored one of their own employees
to do a part time PhD, who are sponsoring a further full time PhD student
and who have also supported 3 MSc projects.
The Danwood Group, who are sponsoring a full time PhD student and have
supported 3 undergraduate and 3 MSc projects.
N.S.B. Retail Systems who are sponsoring a full time PhD student.
Rolls-Royce Aerospace, who have supported 4 MSc projects.
Fisher-Rosemount Systems who have sponsored one of their own employees
to do a part time PhD.
Dawson : Full time Oct '90 - Dec '92, part time to Oct '94 : Successfully
Thesis title: "Software Development Management Using Metamodels and
Malcolm Bradley : Part time, July '94 to Feb '99 : Successfully
Sponsor: Rolls-Royce Power Engineering.
Thesis title: “Whole Life Cost Methods for Computer Systems”
Asad Al-Zaid: Full time, Oct '95 - Sept '99 : Successfully completed
Sponsor: The Kuwaiti Government
Thesis title: “A New Methodology for Requirements Elicitation”
Mark Ireland : Full time Oct '94 - Sept '97 : PhD abandoned in favour
of paid employment!
Sponsor: Loughborough University Department of Computer Science
Subject: Using on-line visual techniques to teach programming.
Bill O'Neill : Part time, started July '97 : Ongoing
Sponsor: Fisher-Rosemount (2 years), now self funding
Subject: Investigation of successful software project management methods
Al-Kandari : Full time, started Oct '97 : Ongoing
Sponsor: The Kuwaiti Government
Subject: Converting relational databases to object-oriented databases
Jackson : Full time, started Oct’98 : Ongoing
Sponsor: The Danwood Group
Subject: Investigating electronic communication to achieve cost reduction
de Chazal : Full time, started Oct’99 : Ongoing
Sponsor: Rolls-Royce Power Engineering.
Subject: Using costing methods to support project option decisions
: Full time, started Oct’99 : Ongoing
Sponsor: N.S.B. Retail Solutions
Subject: Investigating business change when introducing e-commerce.
THE "INSIDE INDUSTRY INITIATIVE" PROJECTS
Whole Life Costing of IT Systems and Other Metrics
This work with Rolls-Royce Power Engineering and Rolls-Royce Aerospace
is researching the methods and the implications of measuring processes,
particularly to calculate the cost of ownership of a software system, software
and hardware, from initial conception through to eventual retirement. Recent
research has been directed at using whole life cost to support option analysis
for database evolution. Other metrics research has concerned, software
reuse, testing, estimating and planning. Rolls-Royce Power Engineering
initially sponsored an employee, Malcolm Bradley, to do part time PhD research
(1994-1998) and is now sponsoring a full time PhD student, Mark
de Chazal. The company has supported two EPSRC applications. Rolls-Royce
Power Engineering has also supervised 3 MSc project students working on
cost analysis and Rolls-Royce Aerospace has supervised 4 MSc project students
in other metrics analysis.
Results so far: 4 journal papers, 12 refereed conference papers and
another currently being refereed, 1 PhD thesis and 7 MSc thesis.
This work with The Danwood Group at Lincoln involves modeling and costing
IT systems to reduce costs and improve process efficiency. Research has
concentrated on electronic communication costs but has also involved modeling
and prototyping purchasing, helpdesk and intranet systems for processes
improvement. The company is sponsoring a full time PhD student, Tom
Jackson, and has supervised 3 undergraduate final year projects and
3 MSc projects within the company.
Results so far: 4 conference papers with another currently being refereed,
3 MSc theses, 3 undergraduate theses.
This work with N.S.B. Retail Systems involves examining companies who have
recently implemented e-commerce or who are about to do so to discover common
problems in the business changes the companies need to make. The aim is
to produce guidelines to ease the changes to e-commerce. N.S.B. Retail
Systems are sponsoring a full time PhD student, Nilpa
Shah, to work with the company and its client base in this research.
Results so far: One conference paper in preparation
Learning From Successful Software
Establishing techniques for improving software project management and software
quality through greater project control. This is a case history approach
looking at the work and experience of one particularly successful software
project manager, Bill O'Neill, initially at Fisher-Rosemount Systems, Leicester
now at A.A.H., Coventry. Fisher-Rosemount Systems sponsored Bill O'Neill
for a part time PhD for the first two years of this research.
Results so far: 4 refereed conference papers, one further paper in preparation.
OTHER CURRENT RESEARCH PROJECTS
Improving the Requirements Elicitation
This involved developing a requirements elicitation process based on facilitating
user performed analysis and modeling responsibilities in the user organisation.
The methodology has been tested in an international bank. The Kuwaiti Government
sponsored a full time PhD student (Asad Al-Zaid) for 4 years from 1995-1999.
The Bank of Bahrain and Kuwait provided facilities and managerial time
to test the methodology in a commercial environment. This project is now
Results so far: 1 PhD thesis, two conference papers currently being
Databases to Object-Oriented Databases
This involves investigating the effects of converting non-normalised relational
databases to object-oriented databases. The Kuwaiti Government are sponsoring
a full time PhD student, Abdulaziz
Al-Kandari, in this research.
Results so far: 1 refereed conference paper.
Engineers for the Real World
Preparing computer science graduates for the "Real World" of software engineering
as practised in industry and commerce. This work examines and compares
university courses with courses at the industrial collaborator Siemens-GEC
Communications Systems (previously known as GPT). Dr. Ian
Newman of Loughborough University is also collaborating in this research.
Results so far: 3 journal papers (including one prize winning paper)
and 3 conference papers and 1 conference paper currently being refereed.
Flexible Software Project
Deriving easily usable methods for introducing flexibility in software
project planning. This work starts with the premise that software development
is too unpredictable for conventional planning tools and has developed
probabilistic techniques to identify and plan for the risks involved. This
research is in collaboration with Christian
Dawson of Loughborough University (previously a PhD student)
Results: 4 journal papers and 4 refereed conference papers.
Handling Legacy Financial IT
A minor role as co-investigator on an E.P.S.R.C. grant for a 3 year project
on handling legacy financial IT systems, with Dr J.M.Edwards, Mr A.Hodgson
and Prof R.H.Weston of the Manufacturing Systems Integration Institute
at Loughborough University. This work will attempt an evolutionary replacement
of the outdated system at a leading commercial bank by the introduction
of object-oriented techniques. The bank, J. Henry Schroder & Co., is
supporting this research.