Category Archives: Designing software

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 =======

ISO/IEC JTC1 SC7 = ISO Software Engineering Standards

Hello from Hyderabad, India, where I’ve attended the ISO/IEC JTC1 SC7 meetings this week – sponsored by NASSCOM of India.

It is refreshing in this year of global economic downturn to see that countries are continuing to think long-term with regard to ISO standards and their evolution.  Here in Hyderabad, NASSCOM officials and TATA consulting executives ensured that our stay was incredibly safe, comfortable, and highly supportive of the intensive work done by SC7 working groups writing the world’s emerging software engineering standards.

In addition to the professional support offered by the attending 60+ Indian professionals attending the meetings on behalf of the Indian national standards organization, the arrangements provided for luxury western-style accommodations and meals, and lavish outpouring of India hospitality. Despite this being my third trip to India (the first two featured Delhi and Bangalore locales), it has definitely been my best and most memorable.

On the standards topic, there are many emerging new work items concerning pressing concerns in the global software and systems industry including IT service management (ITIL), corporate governance, documentation standards (worldwide), benchmarking, software and systems processes, etc.  If you’d like to know more about the standards that may affect YOUR company, contact me at the email address below and I’d be happy to answer them.

Sometimes ISO standards (and ISO/IEC standards) get a bad rap in the industry press as being out-of-date, clumsy, difficult to implement, and theoretical in nature.  As a 15 year representative on behalf of the USA to ISO, I can only say that things are on the mend.  More and more liaisons, fast tracks, and adherence to timelines are imposed – making our writing job a bit more rigorous and fixed, but at the same time, delivering standards to the market in a more streamlined manner.

For further information on the ISO/IEC standards processes or standards themselves, please send me an email.

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 =======

New! At the ASQ World Congress in 2009: Institute for Software Excellence (ISE)

It’s hard to believe that it is almost here — “it” being the Institute for Software Excellence (ISE), the conference within a conference for which I am the chair and we’ve been planning it since last August.  The ISE is a new concept within the American Society for Quality (ASQ – 50,000+ members worldwide) annual World Conference on Quality and Improvement (WCQI) – a 2000 attendee grand event focused on quality in every industry.  For those of us who believe in the importance of software quality, having our own separate track wihtin the main conference is an achievement and a recognition of the importance of software in the whole arena of quality.
Take a look at the program lineup (click program on the left hand menu) and plan to register as an ISE attendee (you can then attend ANY WCQI session and event at no additional charge) – in Minneapolis May 18-20, 2009. http://www.asq.org/conferences/institute-for-software-excellence/index.  We have an outstanding lineup of expert presenters on timely topics waiting to transfer knowledge to you. (I’m presenting the lively “Are you smarter than a CSQE- Certified Software Quality Engineer” at the conference on Wednesday May 20, 2009).
I hope to see you there!!!  Here’s the registration link again for your reference:  http://www.asq.org/conferences/institute-for-software-excellence/index.html
Regards,
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: ,