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Robert L. Glass, "Theory W," System Development, Volume 8, Number 5, May 1988, pp. 1-2 (pdf)

Principle of software project management presented by Barry Boehm at Software Engineering Institute "Distinguished Lecture"

What can software managers do to improve software productivity?

There are lots of answers to that question. But Dr. Barry W. Boehm of TRW has come up with a new one. He calls it "Theory W Software Management."

Added June 18th, 2008


Barry Boehm, Frank Belz, "Applying Process Programming to the Spiral Model," Proceedings of the 4th International Software Process Workshop on Representing and Enacting the Software Process, International Software Process Workshop, Devon, United Kingdom, 1988, pp. 46-56 (pdf)

The primary thesis of this position paper is that process programming is analogous to programming in an key respect not previously emphasized: that it will proceed more effectively if preceded by a set of activities to determine the requirements, architecture, and design of the process.

Added June 18th, 2008


Barry Boehm, "A Spiral Model of Software Development and Enhancement," IEEE Computer, Volume 21, Issue 5, May 1988, pp. 61-72 (pdf)

A short description is given of software process models and the issues they address. An outline is given of the process steps involved in the spiral model, an evolving risk-driven approach that provides a framework for guiding the software process, and its application to a software project is shown. A summary is given of the primary advantages and implications involved in using the spiral model and the primary difficulties in using it at its current incomplete level of elaboration.

Added November 11th, 2005


Barry Boehm, Rony Ross, "Theory-W Software Project Management: A Case Study," extended version of Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Software Engineering, April 11-15, 1988, pp. 30-40 (pdf)

The search for a single unifying principle to guide software project management has been relatively unrewarding to date. Most candidate principles are either insufficiently general to apply in many situations, or so general that they provide no useful specific guidance.

This paper presents a candidate unifying principle which appears to do somewhat better. Reflecting various alphabetical management theories (X, Y, Z), it is called the Theory W approach to software project management.

Theory W: Make Everyone a Winner

The paper explains the Theory W principle and its two subsidiary principles: Plan the flight and fly the plan; and, Identify and manage your risks.

To test the practicability of Theory W, a case study is presented and analyzed: the attempt to introduce new information systems to a large industrial corporation in an emerging nation. The case may seem unique, yet it is typical. The analysis shows that Theory W and its subsidiary principles do an effective job both in explaining why the project encountered problems, and in prescribing ways in which the problems could have been avoided.

Added June 18th, 2008

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