Briefing: RUP

 

This brief gives an overview of the Rational Unified Process (or "RUP") and its potential as a business change methodology.

 

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RUP (Rational Unified Process) 

What is RUP?

The Rational Unified Process, or "RUP", is an open-standard Rapid Application Development (RAD) process for software development. It was created by Rational Software Corporation (now owned by IBM) in an effort to reduce the very large number of failed software projects. Although it is badged as a software development methodology it's principles are equally applicable to a far wider range of business environments.

RUP incorporates enhanced modelling techniques and encourages a (software) system to evolve rather than trying to fully define it before it can be built, as is the case with traditional waterfall methodologies such as SSADM: Structured Systems Analysis and Design Method, a UK Government standard for systems analysis and design.

How does RUP work?

Like most formalised methodologies, RUP has its own particular jargon. RUP projects create Artefacts, which are deliverable products, and Actors execute Use Cases, which are specialised forms of Functional Requirements.

RUP creates software in cycles where each cycle would produce a new version of that software. Each cycle comprises four phases (known as "Inception, Elaboration, Construction and Transition"). The end of each cycle normally results in a major milestone and provides a "synchronisation point" for the technical and managerial review of progress against requirements or objectives. It also provides the opportunity to assess earned value and allows decisions to be taken on progression paths.

Within each RUP phase there will be a number of iterations. Each iteration provides the opportunity to develop both technical and business understanding of the problem space and to produce incremental improvements to the artefacts being developed. Iterations provide very good risk reduction opportunities and help to keep development costs under control whilst still increasing earned value.  

Can RUP help?

A RUP project does not purport to know at the outset what precisely will be delivered on completion. This can lead to the perception that the project's potential benefits are undefined and, thus, not quantifiable. This is not necessarily true.

A RUP Project Plan would typically present its outputs in terms of staged risk-reduction points rather than as "kickable" products as would be seen in a PRINCE2 project. However, when a business problem is not fully understood, or where there is significant uncertainty as to the viability of proposed solutions to a given problem, then RUP can provide the framework by which those problems and/or solutions can be addressed without exposure to uncontrolled risk. RUP can also help to control expenditure within previously agreed limits, reducing substantially the risk of a "runaway" project.

RUP is not a natural candidate for direct integration into, say, an MSP programme. However, when it is contained within e.g. a PRINCE2 "wrapper", it can be a very effective framework by which business problems can be addressed without exposure to unregulated risk. This can be the platform by which an organisation tackles the stagnation that can result from a poor understanding of a particular business problem and/or its solution, otherwise known as "Analysis Paralysis". 

More on RUP

If you would like to know more about Projectia's expertise in the application of RUP then we would love to hear from you. Please contact us to arrange a no-obligation talk about your organisation's specific circumstances and needs.

 
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