By Jon M. Quigley
I saw a LinkedIn post yesterday about scope of testing during times of compressed schedule. The position was to test what is new in the software, and of that new, what is the most important, perhaps meaning what if it goes wrong, would be the worst for the client or customer. Generally this is probably a good idea. However, there are some drawbacks to this approach. This means no regression testing. Regression testing is testing of the old software features when we add new software features to the product.
Testing as above, is predicated on the belief that those things that we have changed or added, have no implication or impact on those features and functions that were already in place prior to this last iteration of the software. That may not be true. If we make changes to some software module that is used by other functions, we may miss testing a change in … Continue reading
How do new ideas occur to us? What is the secret mixture that enables this spark that creates something new? I have long wondered this, including when watching my son build things that I found interesting, and with no clear sign of what of the source of that idea that became reality. I saw him build things with Lego blocks, and I watched him build things at an online game called Roblox. In both instances it made me think, what is the source?
The same is true for my own life, especially my work life. I have been part of groups that have produced 7 US patents and other intellectual property. Each time was so different it is difficult to discern an underlying theme that made this creation possible or at least facilitated. What can be said in each instance to varying degrees, is there was a perceived difficulty or problem, some desired end state that was presently … Continue reading
Do you know how to start a fire? I am not talking about charcoal briquettes, or the use of combustion material such as lighter fluid, gasoline, or those special wax products that can be used in your fireplace, no propane or gas used either.
I’m talking about the fires we make in the woods when we go camping. It is okay if you do not know how, in fact my life as had quite a few times when my boy scout experiences have been a benefit to more than my family or those with whom I am camping. My son and I have made many campfires for cooking out or roasting marsh mellows. Before this, I had camped out without a tent and used the fire for warmth (and to keep away the vermin while we slept). We have started fires when the material may be damp, but that is not to suggest that it is easy to start a fire … Continue reading
I recently saw a post on Twitter from the Great John Cutler on allow the team to pick the tools that they use to do the work. Generally, this is not a bad idea, but not necessarily a great idea either. It sort of depends.
My experience in companies that also have hardware parts associated with the software, each group selecting their tools comes at a great disadvantage when it comes to understanding the various work products as it moves through the organization. It is not possible for one team to see what the other team has done, when the tools are not connected, or each group selects what that individual group needs without consideration of the departments that are depending or associated with the work. In these cases, a product life cycle management tool that connects the various work departments and work packages can help tie all of these together. Consider a vehicle manufacturer that … Continue reading
I have been very fortunate in my career, and that really means very lucky. Upon graduating from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, I had two job offers after sending my resume to more than 100 companies. That is not a very good yield, but it would be good enough. I selected the smaller company, but I selected that company because they created new things. The company I started at developed embedded industrial control systems. It also turns out the people with which I would be fortunate enough to work, were very friendly, and as I would say, were a hoot to be around. Some of my other blog posts describes shenanigans. To this day we still have secret words, that mean something to us but nothing to anybody else (R4).
What drives me
My interest or objective has never been one thing when it comes to product development. In the beginning, I was interested … Continue reading
If you have been a project manager for any time at all, you probably have experienced competing demands from the sponsors for the project. The sponsor is the person(s) who drive the scope of the project in conventional projects. In some instances, the project manager may find that there are in fact multiple sponsors and the respective priorities of those sponsors may be at odds. This is not the only difficulty to which the project manager must respond.
From the CHAOS study by the Standish Group, on project failures and success factors, we find the results below. This study analyzed 23,000 projects in 1998[i], of the factors that enable project success and failure.
Success Factor Influence User involvement 20 Executive support 15 Clear business objectives 15 Experienced project manager 15 Small milestones 10
A list of the top 5 factors from this study, demonstrate that importance of the interface between the project, the executives that are supporting … Continue reading
Value, Scope and Change Requests
Change requests are part of any development project. Change requests are sometimes necessary as we learn by building and doing the work. In my experience, change requests often are born from requirements we thought we understood, only to learn by working with the product or system that we really did not have enough understanding to be able to record this in the form of specifications. We think we are making things better when we spend an abundance of time documenting the requirements, at least those requirements about which there is uncertainty. That is not to say this is not a worthwhile endeavor, we have been in product development long enough to know there are downsides to delivering a product that has no associated documentation. The testing and manufacturing portions of the work will make use of these requirements documentation and the errant or lack of documentation makes the work of these areas and more difficult … Continue reading
My first job out of university was with a small product development and manufacturing company. The company developed their own embedded products for sale all over the world. I do not know how this collection of technicians and engineers ended up as a tight or as close when it came to work. The group was a collection of characters. The other electrical engineer, we will call Flicky (we had secret names for each of the team members). There was one technician we referred to occasionally as IR because of the unfortunate anagram is name made. There was a mechanical designer we referred to as BWI, I will explain that later. There was another assembler / technician we referred to as Wal.
Games with the Team
When it came to the electrical or embedded product idea generation and development, I can recall a game we played. We would read the specifications together, asking questions where we could of the sales … Continue reading
Queuing theory is the study of waiting lines and is associated with business in determining resources needed to achieve service business throughput objectives, but it does not just apply to services and material handling.
Queuing Theory and Billable Hours
I have worked at companies that had a target for billable hours, that well in the 90%. That is, 90% or more of the hours the employee worked, had to be assigned to specific project work. The organization treated the time an employee was at work and available to work on specific projects, at nearly 100%, so for example, in a 40-hour work week, it was expected that 36 hours or greater were dedicated to specific project activities. This was recorded in the project schedule.
Queuing Theory and Product Development
The impact of queues on product development and knowledge management in general is explained well in this Harvard Business Review article a snippet of which is found below:Continue reading
Poor Process or Poor Execution
I have used both conventional approaches to projects, as well as agile. In fact, i have used some of the agile techniques in conventional projects with success. I know, anecdotal but perhaps an interesting anecdote.
Conventional projects have had considerable high failure reported (Standish Group Studies for example). The problem become, why these conventional projects fail. For example, I have been on projects where the project manager is seldom seen, where conventional project processes are ignored or executed poorly. There can be many reasons for failure, poor process, poor execution or poor strategy, can end in the same failure. It is like a play in football, if the offense executes it well, we may get a touchdown. If we have not play, or execute a good play poorly, we might fail in both cases.
So the question becomes what is the root cause of the failure? For example, I wonder how the strategy was selected for … Continue reading