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Articles and Case Studies

The Future of Project Success is Already Here
The key distinctions between successful and failed projects have not changed over time, and likely will not change in the future. Advances in tools and technology have largely been a distraction, and only recently are thought leaders in the business world coming around to talk about what’s really important. With all that, though, there remain many projects that fail to deliver as expected.

In this talk and white paper, Jim shows how we are slowly making progress (in some circles), and expose some of the shiny objects that have kept us from focusing on what is important over the years.

From this foundation, he describes the core elements that project leaders and team members alike can focus on, today, to dramatically improve their environment, culture of interaction, and approach to delivering value on projects.

The future of project success is already here for the taking.

Download the PDF here.

Software Quality Attributes

This is a completely revised and expanded version of this paper, a refined set of steps that you can adopt that will make it somewhat easier for you to make the leap from the ‘ilities’ all the way to testable statements regarding the quality of the system being built.

Download the PDF here

There is also an Excel sheet available that walks you through the steps identified in this article – download the Quality Attributes spreadsheet here

Fostering Meaningful Change with the Large Format Printer Division at HP
Sustaining meaningful, strategic change in any organization can be difficult, particularly when there are strong personalities and established practices in place. Most initiatives are either too broad in their changes or fail to address the needs of participants.

Within the Large Format Printer Division at Hewlett‐Packard in Barcelona, despite some of the strongest front‐end analysis practices in the industry, projects continued to face delivery challenges similar to those in many other companies.

Management decided to take action and revert the trend in declining product development efficiency. The authors collaborated with the specific intent to provide lasting and meaningful change for the group.

We describe the initial situation within the group and the approach to selecting and implementing appropriate changes. We will reveal the deceptively simple viewpoint that was the core of the changes, the effect on the culture and project results that have taken place since.

This paper was presented at the 2009 PNSQC in Portland, Oregon by Jim Brosseau and Carolina Altafulla of HP.

Download the PDF here.

Beyond the Hype of a New Approach

Agile Project Management is becoming the latest in a long line of named approaches to driving projects that promises improved performance – watch for it on a bookshelf or seminar near you. As with most well thought out approaches, though, there is a danger that trimming down the message in order to capture an eager audience’s attention can reduce the positive impact, or even cause a backlash with weak implementations. This article looks at some of the challenges that the Agile Community has faced in getting their message understood in the past, and makes some recommendations for increasing the likelihood of effective use of APM in organizations that want to leverage its strengths.

Download the PDF here (originally published in the Cutter IT Journal, July 2004)

Preserving a Competitive Advantage

The challenges of managing an IT infrastructure in a niche market can be daunting. With scarce resources and a perception that the internal IT department is a cost centre in most sectors, many companies hobble along with outdated systems and depend on the strengths of internal experience and work-arounds to get the job done. The Canadian Fishing Company has managed to find a solution to this problem with the help of Modelsoft Corporation. Here is an example of a strong collaboration where everyone comes out feeling like a winner.

Download the PDF here

Benchmarking for the Rest of Us

Describes the pros and cons of Industry Benchmark data, and how you can best adapt it for your own company’s use.

Download the PDF here (originally published in the Cutter IT Journal, June 2003)

Holding Our Feet to the Fire

In recent times, there have been several movements in software development that appear to suggest that we can defer or eliminate many practices that apparently slow down our ability to develop our products.

As we have all seen in this industry, though, as new ideas gain popularity, there is much that is lost in the translation to the masses. These innocuous statements become embraced a little too tightly. There are claims of universality from all corners of the methodology debate, and that ‘barely sufficient methodology’ often becomes ‘insufficient’, with disappointing or disastrous results.

A balance is required. There are some practices that need to be considered for any project, as the cost of deferring or ignoring them becomes extremely costly to the organization, and results in less delivered value. Balancing appropriate weighting of these practices with appropriate management of change becomes the optimal way of driving a project to successful completion.

This paper describes different types of practices to be considered, approaches to recognize reasonable application along the way, and identifies the practices that we absolutely need to move forward in the lifecycle to ensure that success means the creation of the value we actually intended to deliver.

Download the PDF here (This paper was presented at the 2009 PNSQC in Portland, Oregon by Jim Brosseau)

Actually It's All About You

Even though technology projects require close collaboration and creativity to solve problems, there remains a strong tendency to apply industrial management techniques and work as individuals. The cost of these behaviors is not as clear as it can be in other fields, but the magnitudes can be devastating. If we really want to improve the way we develop technical solutions, we need to start by understanding the team itself – what each person bring to the table. The context of skills, cultures, and attitudes of all the people involved plays a critical role in determining which approach will be most effective, and indeed how we should deploy changes to our approach within the team.

Download the PDF here

Test Prioritization Strategies
An expanded view of the breadth of activities to consider as “testing”, and strategies for ensuring that your limited testing resources are optimally allocated.

Download the PDF here (originally published in the Cutter IT Journal, July 2002)

A Business Case for Improved Project Practices

Though most IT organizations could benefit from changes to their approach to building software, few are able to attempt change. Even fewer manage to sustain the effort to realize the benefits. One of the reasons for maintaining the status quo is that the true costs of poor practices are seldom quantified, let alone exposed to most decision-makers.

This paper describes an approach for quantifying the costs associated with inefficiencies that most development groups consider normal. It shows that with very modest improvement goals, significant savings can be achieved. This business case affirms that most groups should start on the improvement path today.

Download the PDF here