Evolution of the Horseless Carriage

In preparation for our trip to Eindhoven University of Technology to lecture on Configuration Management, we provide a brief excerpt on the evolution of the horseless cariage.

Traditionally new market segments open due to the need to solve a problem. Such problems may be real as in the case of the environmental crisis solved by the automobile or the need may be concocted. New markets and products are rarely developed through the inspiration of a single individual. The automotive market came about through a synergy of the existing body of knowledge and other environmental conditions both in the marketplace and in the nature.

One topic of discussion at the world’s first international urban planning conference in 1898 was the growing health concerns due to horse excretions and the creatures that accompanied them. As the primary means of locomotion for wagons and other forms of transport, horse populations exceeded human population in cities.*

Manufacturers of “horseless carriages” using steam, electric, … Continue reading

Drop in Replacement

Today we discuss interchangeability of parts.  This may sound trivial, but you probably would not even consider replacing your food processor blade with your lawnmower blade.  It would be obvious that these are not interchangeable.  However, there are times when a part needs to be replaced or design is reworked altering the composition, that is the constituent parts of the product or design.

Let’s take an example and walked through it.  Consider the ignition key switch to your car.  It has a specific shape, mounts and attached with specific mechanisms, and performs or initiates many actions of the vehicle.  This is often referred to as form, fit and function.  Let’s consider the old ignition switch is going out of production from your supplier.  We would need to find another solution.  As an engineer we would explore alternative or replacement parts.  If we want to minimize costs, we would look for another ignition switch that forms, fits and functions identically to … Continue reading

Measurement effects and analysis on personnel and organizations

by: Shawn P. Quigley

Whereas we have discussed some of the possible flaws in measurements we can all still agree that they are needed to provide both improvement in processes and the organization. However, other aspects of obtaining data for the production of quantifiable information: trend analysis and process evaluation, is the human factor both workers and management. As in so many of our conversations we look at the affect it has on the people who are essentially being evaluated by the information gathered for these measures. An issue we will discuss later in this post, but first let us look at the management aspect of this equation.

As a quality analysis person data may seem to be clear most of the time, but as a management person how do you gauge the data which is being received? Do you understand its’ meaning? Do you look at the outliers to forecast or do you think they are just noise to … Continue reading

Developers, Documentation and Resistance

Technical documentation serves as a repeatable communications medium. That is, written so that anybody reading with the appropriate competency will come away with the same conclusion.  Not filling this gap or relying upon verbal communications has great limitations. Many of us have likely played that game as children where a group of people line up in a line.  The first person whispers something into your ear and you whisper that into the next person and so on until you get to the end of the line. Seldom does the input verbiage resemble the output.  Additionally, there is no traceability of this verbal exchange.   In this regard, documentation synchronizes the objective and the work of the team.  So we understand what we mean by technical documentation, we provide a few examples:

Requirements Software Design Documents Configuration Management Documentation Test Plans

 

The skills required for this work may not be exactly the same as that of the developer or … Continue reading

CMMI, Requirements and Institutionalization

In this series on CMMI (capability maturity model integration) and requirements, we have discussed:

understanding requirements commitment to the requirements control changes to requirements traceability of requirements from detail to scope and back inconsistencies, the difference between of what is included and what is being done

The processes above work together and amount to managing the requirements.  The degree to which our company consistently does these things in a repeatable way is the degree this approach is institutionalized.  Do we skip these steps when in times of duress?  Experience suggests this happens more often than we care to admit.  If you watch Aircraft Disasters on the Smithsonian Channel (or on Netflix) you will see many of the disasters there are due to skipping process steps that seem innocuous or benign in consequences, only to find out this small alteration in the context of the rest of the system or situation presented is quite disastrous.  An episode that … Continue reading

Another proposal to Eliminate Configuration Management

Really, Eliminate Configuration Management?

Anybody that believes they are saving project time, engineering time and money by eliminating configuration management does not understand how things really work.  This is especially true if the items you are eliminating the configuration management for, interface with other items.  Building a system or subsystems that comprise a variety of software components to which there is no configuration management (traceability) is reckless and will prove either very costly or dangerous.  When you are unable to trace a particular iteration of a number of iterations in a number of different modules that comprise a subsystem or system, you will spend far more than a few hours debugging and determining root cause and subsequent corrective action.  The test department’s work will be much greater and require more hours than the trifle you are saving in the development work. In fact, the farther the product moves from the developers, the more costly the problem and longer in duration to obtain … Continue reading

But our ISO Documentation Says…..

Documentation and Rework

Once, a long time ago, I worked at a company that was having some difficulty coordinating their development work.  The product that was produced was a complex arrangement of mechanical and electrical / electronic systems.  The company was ISO certified and had documentation describing how they would work, including configuration and change management.  Funny thing, though this company shows major signs of a configuration and change managements system that routinely does not work.  For example, a previously agreed upon solution iteration constituent parts show up, and the parts are then put together to make the product.  However, the parts do not fit together and obstruct other parts in the system.  The typical symptoms look like:

extensive and costly rework over the interfaces represented by the departments extensive and costly rework at supplier at the last minute inability to put sub-systems together to make the entire system function Documentation and Organization Performance

When we take this to the person in charge of … Continue reading

Spamcast The Big Picture of Configuration Management

Software Process and Measurement Cast podcast: The Big Picture of Configuration Management, Tom Cagley and Kim L. Robertson

Configuration Management: Theory, Practice, and Application

Configuration Management is a common thread that ties the various departments and organization together, facilitating coordination of effort and is fundamental to product and human growth.

Product Development and Configuration Management

Software Process and Measurement Cast podcast, Tom Cagley and Jon M. Quigley

Configuration Management: Theory, Practice, and Application

Configuration Management is a common thread that ties the various departments and organizations together, facilitating coordination of effort. 

Evolution of the Product Through Configuration Management

Joe Dager’s Business901 podcast with Jon M. Quigley

Evolution of the Product Through Configuration Management

Product Management and Project Management Intersect at Configuration Management

 

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