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Quality Analysis and testing are important parts of SCM process as this is where problems are found and product can be evaluated to see if it meets standards and requirements for project. For your purposes, you can provide a set of basic tests by creating a Task Analysis and a simple Test Plan.
The Task Analysis provides a set of steps that must be executed to perform a specific operation with product---also part of Documentation Analysis. It's essential that Task Analysis be performed for each major update to software to ensure that changes are carried through to documentation. * Bug Tracking and Resolution
Bug tracking and resolution are not only part of SCM process, but are also used with Change Management. It's essential that bugs be reported and that developers are notified of problems to ensure resolution. But, resolving a bug can place product into deeper jeopardy when, in some cases, resolution introduces another set of bugs.
This is where a Feature Update document comes into play. Whenever a change is made to software, to either resolve a bug or change functionality, Feature Update document assists in tracking of changes. Additionally, Feature Update documents can be used as addendum to documentation until actual content can be updated.
Some of more popular bug tracking and management systems are as follows:
- TestTrack: http://www.seapine.com/ - Gnats: http://sources.redhat.com/gnats/ - Bug Wiser: http://www.hallogram.com/bugwiser/
As you evaluate newly built product, keep track of various problems you encounter and report them back to development. In this way, you can provide a service for development staff as well as learn various issues associated with product itself.
Products available for release should be presented as a completed and tested installation on CD and over Web. For CD installations, documentation can be provided in HTML or PDF format. All installations should auto-start when inserted into CD drive or be started by double-clicking on setup application.
For Web-based installations, basic installation information is located on Web page associated with given download. Once product is installed, user can read detailed documentation from an HTML or PDF file.
Some of more popular packaging systems include:
- InstallShield: http://www.installshield.com/ - Wise Solutions: http://www.wisesolutions.com/default.htm
Web-based deployment can consist of a Web page with a link to installation executable. The user can access page, read instructions for installation, then click on link to download.
CD based deployment can consist of a full installation copied to a CD. The user can access CD, read instructions for installation from online documentation, then maneuver through installation.
* Customer and Technical Support
All products should come with a User-Acceptance Test (UAT). For custom products, UAT ensures that product meets a minimal set of requirements originally defined in Requirements Analysis document. The UAT allows user to feel comfortable that product meets their needs and functions according to their requirements. For off-the-shelf products, UAT ensures that product is setup properly and functions in user's environment.
Customer and technical support are essential in that, once product is out in field and in use, customer needs some way of reporting bugs that were missed during QA. It does happen, but a solid QA process should capture a good percentage of problems before deployment.
Additionally, customer will need to access a portion of bug tracking system to monitor progress on their trouble tickets. This makes customer feel better about product and process if they can monitor status of their issues and reports.
--- What's next? ---
Numerous new software companies don't have time or desire to put a proper SCM process in place. Such a process not only helps in development, but it also assists in documentation. In such a situation, it's important that you understand basics of SCM and various software development life cycles. Not only will you be able to generate a solid set of documents, but you will also assist development of a solid infrastructure for company's development team!
Edward B. Toupin is a freelance consultant, writer, and published author living in Las Vegas with his singer/actress wife. He currently handles technical writing tasks for various companies in New York, Chicago, and Denver as well as imagineers and markets feature-length screenplays.