Daily Archives: June 2, 2010

CSM - The Real Estate Agents of Software Development

CSM stands for Certified Scope Manager.

I just returned from Japan where I attended ISO software and systems engineering meetings in Niigata, guest-lectured at the University of Niigata, and spoke at a special event convened by the Japan Function Point Users Group (JFPUG) to discuss northernSCOPE and scope management.  Present were over 50 software professionals representing some of the most prominent and influential Japanese companies including Hitashi, Mitsubishi, IBM, and others.

Carol with executive board members of JFPUG

Carol with executive board members of JFPUG

It continues to become more and more clear how scope management and the new job role recognized by the European Certificates Association called “Certified Scope Manager” fills in the missing links in today’s software development. As I’ve stated before, I believe that the supplier side of the customer/supplier relationship does a fine job in developing software when the customer is engaged and there are good requirements.

Software developers and project managers do excellent work – and I stand by my assertion that the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) and the Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) approaches have done much to advance us to a better, more professional state.

BUT, the fact remains that there is a gap between the customers (who often abdicate requirements and planning to suppliers) and the software development team! And the gap hasn’t gone away despite advancements in business analysis (BABOK) and other professional endeavors.  We need what the home building and buying industry has had for years – Real Estate Agents! (Note that real estate agents represent a buyer in terms of knowing the best neighborhoods, cost per square foot competitive values, are aware of building codes and zoning, know how to navigate the mortgage and title industries, and can also represent a seller.)

This is where the Certified Scope Manager (CSM) fits in:  s/he is the Real Estate Agent of software development. Certainly there are bits and pieces of this work that are picked up by project managers, business analysts, metrics specialists, cost estimators, etc. but to-date there has been no solid single job role that works as the Customer Advocate AND performs all the tasks of a Scope Manager.

Here’s a short list of functions a Certified Scope Manager performs on a typical software intensive systems project:

Works with the customer or business unit upfront to articulate and document high level functional and non-functional (quality and product performance) requirements;

Works with the customer to subdivide the work into manageable projects (Note: often what the business considers to be a project is actually a program of projects that are managed separately. This is similar to doing site selection, building, and landscaping in a home construction project. Each piece is a separate project.);

Works with the customer to create RFPs (Requests for Proposal) for each sub-project as defined above, and solicits bids to come in with unit pricing (e.g., $ per Function Point for new development, $ per hour for data migration, etc) for each;

Works with the customer to evaluate the bids and select the best value suppliers;

– After the requirements phase is completed between the customer and supplier, baselines each project size using Function Points or other sizing measure (as applicable to the type of project);

Works with the supplier to report progress and completion (percentages) by delivered feature/function as the projects progress, and produces progress reports for the customer;

Works with both supplier and customer to analyze proposed changes and assesses the cost impact based on unit pricing (same as for the awarded contracts);

Updates project delivery (and baseline) based on approved changes;

Identifies issues (earned value) during the project and works with the customer to discuss such issues with the supplier;

Figures out the final bills for work delivered based on unit pricing and product delivery;

Captures lessons learned (and too often forgotten) on each project into an experience database for use on later projects.

The Scope Manager is an octopus of sorts; a swiss army knife; a jack-of-all trades in the areas often neglected in customer advocacy on software intensive systems projects.  And he/she accomplishes all of this in a matter of 2-3 days per project.

Let me know if you’d like articles with more details on the subject, and if you’d like me to talk to your management about how scope management can improve your software intensive systems projects.

The Japanese attendees were fervent in their support and now will discuss how to make northernSCOPE and the Certified Scope Manager job role a reality in Japan.  The first hurdle (and the biggest) is translation – after that, it’s working to change the flawed firm-fixed-pricing mentality that prevails throughout the world to one of unit pricing – especially when requirements are not well-known.

To your successful projects!


Carol Dekkers
email: dekkers@qualityplustech.com

For more information on northernSCOPE(TM) visit www.fisma.fi (in English pages) and for upcoming training in Tampa, Copenhagen, Dusseldorf, Helsinki and other locations in 2010, visit www.qualityplustech.com.
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