The planning and requirements documentation developed during the early phases of the project (see SWE-013, SWE-102, and SWE-109) guides development of software work products. The project management team and the software development lead work together to construct a work plan that is logical and achievable in the allotted time. During early project phases key performance factors, schedules and milestones are composed. As scheduled work is performed, it is important for the results to be reviewed to assure conformance with these plans and to assess if the expected performance has been achieved (see SWE-024). During these reviews (both formal and informal), project results are compared to plans. Tools, such as excel-based checklists, planning and tracking tools (such as Omniplan and Primavera), and/or formal configuration management systems/change control tools, are used to identify, resolve, and track to closure discrepancies and other shortfalls to project performance.
It is important to understand that the activities of "identification," "recording," and "tracking to closure" are techniques that the software development engineering team uses to address and satisfy NPR 7150.2, NASA Software Engineering Requirements, requirements related to many areas in the project, such as life cycle planning (SWE-018 and SWE-024), verification and validation (V&V) activities (SWE-030 and SWE-031), requirements development and management (SWE-054), configuration management systems (SWE-080), and the preparation of documentation to measure and record these activities (SWE-091, SWE-102, SWE-109, SWE-113, and SWE-117). NPR 7150.2 uses these terms repetitively, but users of this Handbook are expected to use them and interpret them in the context of the SWE guidance being read.
Occasionally these reviews surface a significant discrepancy between the actual and expected results of an activity. Some discrepancies are a normal part of project development activity and are resolved through the normal course of scheduled activity. These discrepancies are typically tracked informally until the developers establish a product baseline, after which discrepancies/problems are formally tracked (usually in the PRACA system) which requires evaluation, disposition and assurance oversight of the problem. The Software Development Plan or the Software Configuration Management Plan typically defines the level of the discrepancies that are required to be recorded and tracked in the formal tracking systems. Typically a Center has an approved process for problem reporting and corrective action (PRACA) activities. This requirement does not mandate a particular approach or tool as long the key elements of a corrective action activity that are described in the following paragraph are employed.
During the course of the software development activity, once a discrepancy is found that meets the criteria for formal reporting, the software development team clearly states the issue, its area of applicability across the software development activity, and the spectrum of relevant stakeholders it involves. As this information is obtained, the issue is documented in the approved process tool or data repository and an analysis is conducted of the discrepancy. The results of a properly completed analysis provide a clear understanding of the discrepancy and a proposed course of action to further investigate and resolve the discrepancy as necessary. SWE-113 provides specific details for the information needed for documenting a problem report.
The proposed course of action may be reviewed by project management and other relevant stakeholders to assure resources are available for the activity (see SWE-026). It may be necessary to update planning documentation and development schedules to account for the corrective action activity (see SWE-080). Once a corrective action activity has been approved and initiated, its progress is reviewed on a regular basis for progress and its use of planned resources. This information is used to assess whether the action itself is on course or deviating from the expected result.
An important element of the corrective action activity is the proper closeout of the action. After the activity has concluded, or when the discrepancy has been narrowed to within acceptable limits, the closeout is recorded and may include the following information:
- Description of the issue/discrepancy.
- Proposed corrective action, with acceptable limits.
- Actual results/impacts from the effort.
- Listing of required changes to requirements, schedules, resources, if any, to accommodate the result.
- Signature(s)/concurrence by all relevant stakeholders.
Once the documentation has been completed, it can be entered into a suitable repository or configuration management system.