3.0 Assessing the Ada 95 Transition Needs
With an understanding of the Ada 95 Transition Planning Process described in Section 2, PEOs/PMs can now begin to establish the initial plans or context for the transition effort. Figure 3-1 depicts the process of assessing the needs of a program in the transition to Ada 95.
The initial step in assessing the transition needs is to recognize the motivation behind the transition to Ada 95 and to define the desired Ada 95 benefits. The decision to adopt Ada 95 is based on the features and benefits of the language. For example, a PEO/PM may be interested in reducing development and maintenance costs by using Ada's object-oriented features to exploit software reuse opportunities. In addition, the PEO/PM must assess readiness of personnel, compilers, tools, and hardware/software platforms to gauge the existing baseline in relation to the planned transition. A clear understanding of both the motivation for moving to Ada 95 and the existing baseline are critical in defining a specific program's needs. All this information is summarized in a needs assessment and is then used to identify specific Ada 95 transition activities described in Section 4. The guidance presented in this section of the document steps the reader through the completion of Section 3.0 of the transition planning template found in Appendix A.
3.1 Defining Transition Objectives
The first step in planning the transition to Ada 95 requires that PEOs/PMs clearly understand and document the motivation behind migrating their programs to the language. The reasons driving this decision are critical in subsequent transition planning and executions developing training plans and selecting a suitable compiler. There are a variety of compelling reasons for making the transition to Ada 95. Its features include:
(A more detailed discussion of these and other benefits of converting to Ada 95 can be found in Chapter 2 of the Ada 95 Adoption Handbook.)
There may also be other program-specific features or benefits that are driving the PEO's/PM's decision. Whatever the reasons, they must be clearly documented and prioritized to ensure that the remainder of the planning process remains focused on the intended objectives of the effort. Section 3.1 of the planning template in Appendix A contains a table that PEOs/PMs should complete to facilitate documenting transition goals. Table 3-1, shown below, provides an example of how the table in the template should be completed.
PEOs/PMs should first list all of the expected transition benefits that they believe are pertinent to their particular needs along with the Ada 95 feature that supports that benefit. They should then review and prioritize these benefits according to their perceived importance to the successof their programs. This prioritized table will serve as a decision support tool in future planning efforts and also establishes the focus and purpose of the entire transition effort.
3.2 Assessing the Existing Baseline
At the onset of the transition planning process, in addition to establishing the effort's objectives, PEOs/PMs must also gauge the readiness of their personnel and infrastructure to execute and support the transition. The skills and experience of the development staff, the current compilers and support development tools, and the existing computing platform (hardware and operating systems) must be assessed to establish a organizational baseline. In the next step of the process, this baseline is mapped to the transition objectives defined in the previous step to identify the actions that will be required to establish the foundation on which a successful transition can be executed. Table 3-2 provides a sample of the worksheet table from Section 3.2 of the planning template in Appendix A. In this example, the PEO/PM has rated the advantages and disadvantages of each element of their organizational baseline with respect to the current and future direction of the program.
Having completed this table, the PEO/PM is prepared to move on the next step of the process.
3.3 Identifying Transition Needs
The PEO/PM should now have clearly documented objectives for the transition and a solid assessment of the program's current technical state. The existing baseline is mapped to the objectives to analyze the ability of the organization to achieve the transition goals. This analysis results in the identification of gaps and issues that need to be resolved to effectively support the transition effort.
Sections 3.3.1 - 3.3.4 from the template in Appendix A provide guidelines for the PEO/PM to define an initial needs statement for the transition. These sections allow PEOs/PMs to detail the actions necessary to prepare the various elements of their baseline for the transition. The template contains placeholders for the following needs:
PEOs/PMs may need to tailor this list as the requirements of their specific programs warrant.
Building on the examples provided in Table 3-1 and 3-2, assume that a PEO/PM is interested in reducing his development costs by reusing as much of the existing legacy code as possible. However, there are significant portions of the system that have to be recoded in Ada 95. By reviewing the baseline assessment in Table 3-2, the PEO/PM can quickly identify two major gaps: 1) The development staff needs to be trained in Ada 95, and 2) An Ada compiler has to be acquired.
Based on this information, the PEO/PM can complete sections 3.3.1 and 3.3.2 of the planning template as shown in the example in Figure 3-2.
The purpose of this step is to identify at a high level the types of actions that will be required to set the stage for the transition effort. The Needs Assessment, comprised of the transition objectives, existing baseline, and transition needs, is essential in laying the groundwork for the remainder of the planning process. After this step is completed, the activities detailed in these sections of the template may be refined or modified later in the planning process.
Next Section - 4.0 Identifying the Ada 95 Transition Activities
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