Category Archives: Change

Crosstalk article on Scope Management

CrossTalk - The Journal of Defense Software Engineering

CrossTalk Jan/Feb 2010 Scope Management: 12 Steps for ICT Program Recovery

by Carol Dekkers, Quality Plus Technologies, Inc.
Pekka Forselius, 4SUM Partners, Inc.

ABSTRACT:
The information and communications technology (ICT) world is “addicted” to dysfunctional behavior and the problem is spreading globally. The sad truth is that the parties in the ICT relationship (the customer and the supplier) are largely co-dependent on a pattern of dysfunction characterized by ineffective communication, fixed price contracts with changing requirements, and eroding trust. This article focuses specifically on the northernSCOPE TM 12-step process for ICT program recovery.

For more information on northernSCOPE(TM) visit www.fisma.fi (in English pages) and for upcoming training in Tampa, Florida  — April 26-30, 2010, visit www.qualityplustech.com.

To your successful projects!

Carol

Carol Dekkers
email: dekkers@qualityplustech.com
http://www.qualityplustech.com/stage/
Contact Carol to keynote your upcoming event – her style translates technical matters into digestible soundbites, with straightforward and honest expertise that works in the real world!
=======Copyright 2010, Carol Dekkers ALL RIGHTS RESERVED =======

Measuring IT Performance

Quote for those tasked with implementing a sustainable measurement program with positive ROI:

“When we seek generalities we fail.
When we seek specifics it is easier.
When we measure performance, performance increases (Hawthorn effect).
When we measure and record performance, performance accelerates.”

Source: Anonymous.

Where Should one Start when Tackling a Software Measurement Program?

Overheard at a recent IT software conference:

  • “Okay, so I guess the 1st step is to measure function points” (Dekkers’ comment: Sorry, wrong approach. The 1st step is to figure out the Goals that you want to achieve with measurement.  Think of this like going shopping – what do you need to buy – you only make a grocery list of what you need once you know what you want to cook. The same thing goes with software measurement! Deciding your goal (s) is the first step)
  • “It sounds like I need a measurement consultant but how do I choose one and what will it cost?” (Dekkers’ comment: There are more than enough eager software measurement consultants who will tell you their way is the best and only way.  One group touts themselves as the elders of software measurement and holds up their volunteer committee service as their mantra, while many of their consultants are hired guns – that is they are subcontractors who work freelance for the highest bidder.  Make sure to ask for (and check) references and ask those references what their ROI on the consulting group was BEFORE you take the salesman’s word for it!  Buyer beware – there’s some unscrupulous fat cats in the water who will take your money, implement useless difficult measures, and be gone leaving you holding a dashboard that doesn’t match what you wanted to achieve.)
  • “Software metrics sounds easy but the presenters make it sound hard” (Dekkers’ comment:  Software metrics is NOT rocket science or even difficult. Follow Goal-Question-Metrics (GQM) approach, engage a bit of targeted training, and take it one step at a time and you’ll see that you too can be savvy with software metrics and gain performance improvement.  Take a look at the FREE materials on Practical Software and Systems Measurement (PSM) from www.psmsc.com and from CrossTalk (www.hill.af.mil/crosstalk – search for software measurement and from the DACS (www.dacs.com) which are all US taxpayer funded initiatives for a starting point).

Make sure you take advantage of the many free article downloads at www.qualityplustech.com or send me a note at dekkers@qualityplustech.com before you hire a consultant to design a function point or software measurement program you’ll later regret.

To your successful projects!

Carol

For more information on northernSCOPE(TM) visit www.fisma.fi (in English pages) and for upcoming training in Florida, visit www.qualityplustech.com
Carol Dekkers
email: dekkers@qualityplustech.com
http://www.qualityplustech.com/stage/
Contact Carol to keynote your upcoming event – her style translates technical matters into digestible soundbites, with straightforward and honest expertise that works in the real world!
=======Copyright 2010, Carol Dekkers ALL RIGHTS RESERVED =======

Overcome CHAOS with scope management...

“Don’t waste even one heartbeat on things that don’t matter.”  Anonymous

 This quotation should be the mantra of software development – if only we could figure out what “in the customer’s eyes” doesn’t matter!

The Standish Group’s 2009 CHAOS report certainly didn’t bring any celebratory words:  After steady increases from a dismal 17% project success rate in 1996 to the 34% (a doubling!) rate in 2006, this year’s study reported a decrease to a mere 32% of projects being declared a success.

 What’s going on? With 60-99% of defects attributable to poor requirements, and 45% of development effort spent on rework, it is clear that somehow the customer side of the house and the development side are out of whack.  Worldwide, we could declare software development as a problem of epidemic proportions – especially as software pervades every aspect of our daily lives.  If we can casually launch a team of scientists to fix an ailing space station on a moment’s notice, and announce medical breakthroughs, surely the brains in software development should make strides in this area.  Take rework for example, currently hovering at an astounding 40% of software development effort – this means that while we do great work Monday to Wednesday every week, the remaining two working days are spent fixing and redoing the very work we just completed. The old adage – “if you don’t have the time to do it right, when will you find the time to do it over?” —  doesn’t seem to hold much water does it when almost half of every week is spent doing costly rework?

Here’s the crux of the situation – it’s not a matter of incompetence!  It’s a matter of the customers not being able to fully articulate what they actually need – and a matter of the suppliers not being able to deliver to requirements that are as sketchy as clouds.  BUT, there’s a solution that’s been successful in Finland and Australia called Scope Management – and I’ve mentioned this many times in the past… stay tuned for more information in the coming posts. And Scope Management training is coming to Tampa, FL in just a few weeks.  More to come!

For more information on northernSCOPE(TM) visit www.fisma.fi (in English pages) and for upcoming training in Florida, visit www.qualityplustech.com.

To your successful projects!

Carol

Carol Dekkers
email: dekkers@qualityplustech.com
http://www.qualityplustech.com/stage/
Contact Carol to keynote your upcoming event – her style translates technical matters into digestible soundbites, with straightforward and honest expertise that works in the real world!
=======Copyright 2010, Carol Dekkers ALL RIGHTS RESERVED =======

2010 - new year, new advances in software development?

As 2009 draws to a close, we’re left with an “interesting year” where budget cuts in early year gave rise to reduced program deliveries, but by midyear the customer demands for more functionality gave rise to a resurgence of development activity. 2009 saw the CHAOS report (www.standishgroup.com) declare a reduction in the percentage of successful projects, the first year in memory when success rates have decreased – not a good report card for the IT industry!

There’s hope however, and scope management (often the topic of this blog) continues to amass followers and successes in Finland. Yet another government department has embraced scope management processes in their procurement and software development, bringing to almost a dozen the number of federal government departments in the Scandinavian nation for which unit pricing, measurement based progress reporting, and formal change management has become a standard.

For information about the northernSCOPE(TM) approach to scope management on software intensive projects, visit www.fisma.fi and select the English tab.

Workshops will be offered in Q1 2010 for Certified Scope Managers (CSM) including the examination by the European Certificates Association by Quality Plus Technologies (www.qualityplustech.com).

Wishing you success in 2010! What will you do differently to make YOUR project succeed?

To your successful projects!

Carol

Carol Dekkers
email: dekkers@qualityplustech.com
http://www.qualityplustech.com/stage/
http://www.caroldekkers.com
Contact Carol to keynote your upcoming event – her style translates technical matters into digestible soundbites, humorously and forthright. View also Carol Dekkers’ general blog at http://caroldekkers.wordpress.com/ The Dekkers Report
=======Copyright 2009, Carol Dekkers ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Scope Management is the new Green...

Recycling, planning for the future, saving the environment for future generations is all part of the new “green” movement – and it is common sense for our planet and the future.  In a similar manner, scope management is common sense for software development in that it saves time, puts planning and solid communication up front in the lifecycle, and saves time on costly rework down the road.  By following solid scope management principles, both the customer side and the development side agree at the beginning of the software and systems requirements phase exactly what is the unit pricing for each part of the program/project they work on.  As the project progresses, baseline sizing, progress reporting, change management (using documented and agreed upon procedures), and good communication are part of the approach, and once the project is complete, the award fee (in $$$) is paid to the contracted developers based on functionality and quality delivered.  Lessons learned are captured and quantified according to solid project management principles so that future projects can be run even better. 

None of this is rocket science, however, unit pricing, subdivision of programs into projects and subprojects,  unit pricing by type of work, baselining size, tracking and control based on functionality delivered, and change management based on unit pricing,and final delivery payment based on agreed upon requirements are seldom all brought together in a single project – unless scope management has been applied.

For more information on northernSCOPE(TM) visit www.fisma.fi (in English pages) and for upcoming training in Florida, visit www.qualityplustech.com.

To your successful projects!

Carol

Carol Dekkers
email: dekkers@qualityplustech.com
http://www.qualityplustech.com/stage/
http://www.caroldekkers.com

Contact Carol to keynote your upcoming event – her style translates technical matters into digestible soundbites, humorously and forthright. View also Carol Dekkers’ general blog at http://caroldekkers.wordpress.com/ The Dekkers Report
=======Copyright 2009, Carol Dekkers ALL RIGHTS RESERVED =======

Social media ... good, bad, and potentially ugly

Weekly it seems a new social network pops up into my inbasket and challenges me to keep up with its functionality and features.  While the most popular ones I’ve encountered include Facebook, myspace, Linked-in, Plaxo (pulse), Twitter, I’ve been invited to join hi-5 Naymz, Trip-it, and others.  See full size image

One social network was a cleverly disguised dating website – which I only discovered once I started getting wayward invitations based on a profile that I hadn’t even filled out!

 As quickly as these new networks spring up, a series of webinars/podcasts/ and self-appointed marketing ‘experts” tout that they have found the shortcut path to riches by using the best features of each.  (See last week’s posting about Get Rich Quick schemes on my other blog at www.caroldekkers.wordpress.com ).  It makes me wonder with all of these disparate and somewhat cobbled together networks and minute by minute postings of various lengths (twitter confines one to less than 150 characters per post) – what did people ever do before the internet networks? 

I remember growing up as a child in Canada (ok, sure perhaps we didn’t have the huge cell phones in a box like many of you had!) – and playing hide and seek, and really having to find the other players – without the aid of a GPS or a mobile phone equipped with instantaneous Tweets of a players whereabouts.  I don’t know how we ever did it (spoken tongue in cheek!)

It’s been widely reported that Human Resource departments in many companies routinely review the more racey networking boards such as Facebook and MySpace as part of their recruitment processes, eliminating those candidates who brag about their drunken weekend exploits complete with photos.  More recently it’s come to light that police departments are now also using the social networking webs to track down stolen property, find identity theft perpetrators, and locate suspected criminals.  In fact, the widely broadcasted “To catch a predator” has been successfully nabbing suspected child molesters for years using chat rooms – so why should social networks be any different?

Social networks, in my humble opinion, are really just the next generation in closing the 6 degrees of separation gap between us as human beings, but with the added familiarity of such feigned “closeness” with strangers, we need to be vigilant with our personal information (due to identity theft), our whereabouts (due to home invasions while people are on vacation), our photographs (again due to identity theft and also stalkers who may be able to broach our privacy boundaries), and private information (which online predators can use to gain trust even without having met you).  In the online world, especially when we “meet” new friends through other friends, it can be easy to let down the guard we normally have in person.  Our intuitive nature can be compromised or even shut down when online and it is imperative that we take precautions to safeguard our personal lives.

Social media has proven to link strangers, forge new friendships and lifetime  partnerships, gain business across geographic boundaries, and allow the painfully shy to play online games with many others without having to leave their homes.  These are some of the good things – but on the flip side, there can be dangers lurking behind the online personnas that strangers (as they are) can present.  The Craigslist killer befriended and met his victim through an online site, and various other sundry results are not surprising when the online personna meets the real world.  Care, caution, and consideration are needed when taking a friendship established online beyond the bounds of cyberspace.  (Make sure that real life friends have identity and contact information of anyone you choose to meet in real life that you have met first online – just in case!)

From the good, to the bad, to the downright ugly, social networking spans the gamut of our new virtual meets reality existence. 

What’s been your experience?  Is social networking superior to or does it augment in-person networking?  What are the good, the bad, and the ugly in your experiences?

Have a great week!

Carol

Carol Dekkers
email: dekkers@qualityplustech.com
http://www.qualityplustech.com/stage/
http://www.caroldekkers.com

Contact Carol to keynote your upcoming event – her style translates technical matters into digestible soundbites, humorously and forthright. View also Carol Dekkers’ general blog at http://caroldekkers.wordpress.com/ The Dekkers Report
=======Copyright 2009, Carol Dekkers ALL RIGHTS RESERVED =======

Software and Systems Technology Conference

Last week I attended the Software and Systems Technology Conference (SSTC) in Salt Lake City, UT where close to 1000 attendees representing the Department of Defense and related industries and IT contractors  presented leading edge presentations over 4 days.

It was a pleasure to present the basics of scope management to interested attendees from a variety of agencies and private organizations – several of whom commented after the presentation that the concepts were solid and definitely what the software intensive systems world is lacking.  Scope management based on northernSCOPE(TM) is different from the traditional software project/program development in that instead of firm fixed price before requirements (where both the acquisition group and the supplier lose) – it is based on unit pricing by subproject.

Customers win with scope management because they are always in control of their investment and the functionality delivered by the supplier. Suppliers also win with scope management because they are paid for all the work that they perform on behalf of the customer/acquisition group.  The two sides are facilitatebd to work together by a Certified Scope Manager (CSM) who is specifically trained to be competent in software measurement, business analysis, project management, progress reporting, change management, communication, and software and systems development.

For information on upcoming scope management workshops leading up to the CSM examination (administered through an agreement with the European Certificates Association),  please visit www.qualityplustech.com.

The next CSM training week is scheduled for August 10-14, 2009 in Tampa, FL, USA.

Have a great week!
Carol

Carol Dekkers
email: dekkers@qualityplustech.com
http://www.qualityplustech.com/stage/
http://www.caroldekkers.com

Contact Carol to keynote your upcoming event – her style translates technical matters into digestible soundbites, humorously and forthright. View also Carol Dekkers’ general blog at http://caroldekkers.wordpress.com/ The Dekkers Report
=======Copyright 2009, Carol Dekkers ALL RIGHTS RESERVED =======

Last Minute Seat Sale on Certified Scope Manager (CSM) workshops: Tampa, FL Apr 27-May 1, 2009

Dear colleague,

A few months ago I conducted a series of webinars on Scope Management and the Certified Scope Manager (CSM). Now our scheduled training is fast approaching, and because you’re a blog reader we’re having a seat sale for our loyal fans!

In just over 2 weeks, (April 27-May 1, 2009!) we are conducting Certified Scope Manager workshops in Tampa, FL. As a blog reader, you are entitled to a 20% discount for any single or multiple workshop – so register today! (Simply indicate “BLOG” beside your name on the registration form and we’ll adjust the total for you.)

Please visit http://www.qualityplustech.com/stage/CSM_training.html to register. Purchase orders and payment arrangements can be made for this seat sale. Register today and make a difference in your organization and your career!

We hope to see you in Tampa April 27- May 1, 2009.

Have a nice week!

Regards,
Carol Dekkers
Carol Dekkers email: dekkers@qualityplustech.com
http://www.qualityplustech.com/stage/
http://www.caroldekkers.com/

Contact Carol to keynote your upcoming event – her style translates technical matters into digestible soundbites, humorously and forthright.
View also Carol Dekkers’ general blog at http://caroldekkers.wordpress.com/
============Copyright 2009, Carol Dekkers ALL RIGHTS RESERVED ======================

Managing program scope - an evolutionary approach

One of the most daunting challenges with software intensive systems development centers around ensuring that customers and suppliers speak the same language about the amorphous technology solution needed by the customer.  When the product is a tangible product such as a building or a road, there is far less ambiguity in the requirements and the number of projects that need to be worked.

Most customers can envision what a road looks like and what its construction will entail.  However, when software intensive systems are involved in the solution – this is hardly the case!  While the customers knows that their business problem needs a solution that will involve technology and hardware/software, most often the exact business problem is not yet articulated.  That’s the role of the first phase of the project – figuring out what the project(s) will be and what the floorplan(s) are that will be involved —- but in a systems way of thinking.

Customers know that the cost of such technology intensive solutions generally exceeds the initial budget (without knowing exactly why) and thus want to corral such costs with a “not-to-exceed” fixed price budget.  This is similar to wanting to develop a piece of land to satisfy a particular need, but asking for a fixed price before such buildings and/or projects are defined. Ludicrous you might say!  Premature at least!

What normally happens at this point for software intensive systems projects is that a contrived fixed prices guesstimate is drawn up by various suppliers (software developers) based on customer insistence.  It will always be wrong because no one can predict the cost of something that has not yet been seriously discussed.  The cost to build a house before a floor plan is developed will obviously be wrong – because the cost depends on what the house will include and how big it will be.  As such – a unit price per square foot could be used (based on history).

This is exactly what Scope Management is all about – figuring out and subdividing the business solution into a number of pieces (a new system, data migration, etc), and the getting unit prices for their development (cost per FP or other metric).  The customer wins because they only pay for the work that they direct, and the supplier wins because they get paid for the work they are directed to do.

Certified scope managers (CSM) are professional practitioners trained in the northernSCOPE(TM) approach to concrete scope management.

Workshops to become a certified scope manager (CSM) to aid customer groups are now scheduled for April 27- May 1, 2009 in Tampa FL.  See www.qualityplustech.com for further details and to register.

Let’s work together to make software intensive systems development successful – through scope management. It’s the right thing to do and takes advantage of the best-practices we already know and use!

Have a nice week!

Regards,
Carol Dekkers
Carol Dekkers email: dekkers@qualityplustech.com
http://www.qualityplustech.com/stage/
http://www.caroldekkers.com/

Contact Carol to keynote your upcoming event – her style translates technical matters into digestible soundbites, humorously and forthright.

View also Carol Dekkers’ general blog at http://caroldekkers.wordpress.com/ ============Copyright 2009, Carol Dekkers ALL RIGHTS RESERVED ============= Posted by Carol Dekkers Labels: ,

The more things change... the more they stay the same

As I was perusing through about a year’s worth of industry journals accumulating as they do in a pile in the corner of my office, I was hit with a flash of deja vu. Some of the journals hidden in the corners had actually been there for more than 24 months, and I was amazed to discover that this depression/recession/financial crisis we are in is not new. In fact, for the majority of years in this new millenium – we’ve been in a downturn!

This continuing trend – Information Week headlines from 2003 declared job hunting woes were in full swing back then – has been going on for years – albeit not in as dramatic as today – but the situation is not strikingly new. It’s just taken us the aggregation of a pile of small things (and big things such as the Wall Street collapse) to realize the full gravity of the situation.

Having said this, there are two major thoughts that come to mind when we apply this same trend to software development:

1. This too will pass (it always does); and
2. The more things change, the more things stay the same.

Let me explain:

“This too will pass” – in the heat of our current crisis where software development budgets, projects, contracts, have been curtailed and layoffs announced, companies have reacted in the typical cocooning mode by burying their heads and cutting out any “superfluous spending” such as training, travel, conferences, process improvement and measurement. Yet, again and again, we know in our hearts and minds that this current crisis will pass and that this is the IDEAL TIME to invest (wisely) in just that very training to upgrade our workforces, exchanging information at conferences with best-in-class organizations, and investing strategically in process improvement and sustainable measurement initiatives so that we are ready, lean, and mean when the current situation passes (as it will). Corporations simply do not seem to learn, and instead of truly relying on the ingenuity and innovativeness of the America we know and love, they fall back on the scrimping and saving mode (like hiding money between mattresses) that worked for our forefathers but which has been proven to worsen (not improve) the competitiveness of a corporation when we come out of the current temporary crisis.

2. The more things change, the more they stay the same…

What I mean by this is that the more an industry finally embraces a particular concept, methodology, or newfangled approach, the more that nothing really changes. For example, take the current case of the adoption of agile methods of software development. While the proponents tout statistics based mostly on intuition and gut feel (proclamations such as agile is the only way to develop software today, bar none), the contrarians proclaim that the approach does not progress the industry but rather takes us back a step. They profess that agile is imperfect for all applications, do not provide a trail of quantifiable measurements, do not provide adequate documentation or commented code, and do not provide a solid system architecture to sustain the functionality into the future.

So what happens next? Following in the historical cycle, the current agile methods will begin to crumble (and be torn apart by some of the early adopters who now see the folly in some of the less disciplined aspects of the methodology), a “new and improved and evolutionary” approach will be devised and introduced, and the masses will go back to the tried and true (waterfall methodology) that does not work when agile is needed – and a new convincing and influencing cycle will start to convince the software development industry to try the new and improved “whatever approach”.

So the more that things change, the more they seem to stay the same. Interesting culture of change n’est-ce pas?

This week I am facilitating a different set of workshops on Global Projects with Cultural Diversity and the question arose about the changing of a country’s culture (such as India or China) based on the amount of outsourcing that is happening. While the pace of technology change can be rapid and pervasive, the change of a culture is extremely slow – proving again that the more things change, the more things stay the same.

Stay warm this February wherever you are (or cool if you are in Australia facing this month’s record high temperatures of +40C!) – and have a good week.

I’ll be back next week with more of the same – and a little bit of different! Happy development.

p.s., Here’s a humorous photo from the icy streets of Santa Fe, NM during New Year’s week this year. The Danger sign was missing a few letters…. Enjoy!


Regards,
Carol Dekkers

Carol Dekkers email: dekkers@qualityplustech.com
http://www.qualityplustech.com/stage/
http://www.caroldekkers.com/

Contact Carol for your keynote and speaking needs – she translates technical subjects into easily digestible soundbites – in a humorous and forthright manner. See http://www.caroldekkers.com/ for details of topics and opportunities.

View also Carol Dekkers’ general blog at http://caroldekkers.wordpress.com/

============Copyright 2009, Carol Dekkers ALL RIGHTS RESERVED =============