Rapid Application Development in PowerHouse : The Use of Iterative Development Techniques on a Large Project


Cognos North American User Conference, Ottowa, Canada, June 28-30 1995

This paper is about the iterative development methods used by Zentech during a two year system development project for Statoil, a major Norwegian oil company. I called the paper Rapid application Development in PowerHouse after reading an article in a UK computer paper which seemed to have just discovered the techniques which we, and I suspect a good many other PowerHouse developers, have been using for a number of years.
I shall be discussing an extension of the prototyping techniques which I am sure your Cognos salesman cited as one of the benefits of PowerHouse. Strictly prototyping suggests the building of a working model from which design and construction decisions can be made. This model is then discarded and the real business of development undertaken. In practise it is a waste to throw away perfectly good code, so people started to use something called iterative development. That is a cycle of design, construction, user review, change implementation and further reviews. At Zentech we applied those techniques in a larger than usual project, allowing us to meet tight deadlines, while overcoming problems caused by a loose original user specification.
Firstly I will tell you something about the people and companies involved. Then I will give you some project background, explain how the project developed, what changes we had to make to our working practises to meet the challenges presented, and what our final solutions were. I will touch briefly on some of the technical issues raised and how they were resolved. Finally I will try to draw some conclusions from our experiences.