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