“A Hierarchical Framework for Organizing a Software Development Process” by Professor Reza AHMADI
Professor Reza AHMADI
Professor of Decisions, Operations and Technology Management
UCLA Anderson School of Management
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
Every year, companies that produce commercial tax preparation software struggle with thousands of state and federal changes to tax laws and forms in the United States. Three competitors dominate the market with its short selling season, and release delays tremendously slash profits. Tax authorities issue updates August-December, and all changes must be processed and incorporated before year end. Systematic resource allocation and process management are crucial yet problematic due to the volume and complexity of changes, brief production timeframe, and feedback loops for bug resolution. A leading tax software provider asked us to formulate systematic approaches for managing process flow and staffing development stages with the goal of releasing the new version on time at minimum cost. To that end, we develop deterministic models that partition tax forms into development groups and determine staffing levels for each group. Partitioning forms into groups simplifies workflow management and staffing decisions. To provide a range of resource configurations, we develop two modeling approaches. Numerical experiments show that our models capture the salient features of the process and that our heuristics perform well. Implementing our models reduced company overtime hours by 31% and total resource costs by 13%.