Use of Agile Practices when developing Safety-Critical Software

Thor Myklebust presented a new paper at the 2016 ISSC Conference:

Myklebust, T., Stålhane, T., Hanssen, G.K., Use of Agile Practices when developing Safety-Critical Software, ISSC 2016

During the last 10 years there has been an increasing use of agile development methods and practices when developing safety-critical software, in order to shorten the time to market, to reduce costs, to improve quality and to have more frequent releases. Several of the agile practices cannot be used as-is when developing Safety-Critical Software (SCSW). There are many agile practices but we are searching for those agile practices that can be used to obtain agility when developing SCSW. We have evaluated several practices and suggested how to add necessary safety aspects to these practices. In addition we have evaluated how to adapt the practices to development of SCSW when using SafeScrum, an adaptation of the Scrum agile software development methodology, ensuring that safety standards like IEC 61508 (part 3) are satisfied. We have analysed agile practices commonly used in software development projects. The acquired information is used to suggest how to include add-ons to the practices and how to adapt the processes to the development of SCSW. We have also performed a literature study and checked:
• What are the most adopted agile practices?
• Which methods are suitable when developing SCSW?
Results: The descriptions of the agile practices were assessed and consolidated.
Several add-ons and adaptations are suggested for agile practices. Three new extended agile practices have been suggested; the “Backlog Splitting”, the “STDD” (Safety TDD) and “Four questions”.
The paper starts by presenting and clarifying relevant terms and definitions, as these may differ between the agile community and the safety community. A short introduction to SafeScrum is presented together with some of the agile practices. The main part of the paper structures and describes the relevant agile practices together with suggested add-on’s and adaptions.
Conclusions: There exist more than 50 named agile practices. Several of these practices cannot be used as-is when developing SCSW since they do not meet mandatory safety requirements. We have evaluated 10 of the most relevant practices and described necessary add-ons and adaptions to ensure that important international standards like IEC 61508 are satisfied. The practices have been described as part of the SafeScrum method.

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