Category Archives: sameness and change

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 (in English pages) and for upcoming training in Florida, visit

To your successful projects!


Carol Dekkers
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 ( 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 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 (

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

To your successful projects!


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

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!

Carol Dekkers

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

View also Carol Dekkers’ general blog at

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