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TwinSPIN Newsletter: Volume 2, Issue 2

 

 

Editor's Note

I received the following short note from Tom Gilb, author of 12 Tough
Questions
in last month's newsletter: "Looks good to me. By the way,
you are the first to publish 12 tough in any form! Tom" Another first for
the TwinSPIN newsletter! Editing this electronic newsletter has not been easy
but it has been rewarding. Learning what it takes to assemble a publication,
copyright considerations, learning HTML, etc. have all been a growth experience.
Compliments and comments at TwinSPIN meetings have also been gratifying - it's
nice to hear the TwinSPIN membership are reading this newsletter and finding
value in it. Thank you to all of your who have offered support, encouragement,
suggestions, and submissions in our first 4 months of publication.

We are constantly looking for new material to include in this newsletter. We
have already published material from independent consultants. Recommended by a
consensus of interested members, we will also provide access to material from
other commercial sources if they provide a valuable service to the TwinSPIN
members. This is a gray area in that the difference between valuable information
from a commercial source and advertising is somewhat subjective. If you have
sources you think would be a good fit for this newsletter or if you have a
concern about the value of certain material, please contact either Pat or Esther
at the e-mail addresses below. Also new in this issues is the Needs
& Leads
section. If you need something related to SPI or you want
to broadcast an opportunity related to SPI, this may be just the outlet you were
looking for!

As always, thanks to our contributors, Rick Brenner and Pat O'Toole, for
providing articles to the TwinSPIN newsletter. Also thank you to Esther Derby
for coming through yet again to publish this newsletter..

Send letters-to-the-editor, comments, questions, submissions, or anything
else relevant to Pat Wegerson at weger002@tc.umn.edu
or at 612-448-1335. Esther Derby can be reached at estherderby@worldnet.att.net
.

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Writers
Guidelines

The goal of the TwinSPIN Newsletter is to provide articles and information
with a real world perspective that will be useful to you, the readers. And who
could know more about real world software process improvement than the members
of a SPIN? If you've ever had the urge to be an author and have an insight you'd
like to share, consider writing an article for the Newsletter!

In general, articles should be fairly short, not more than 1000 words (since
the Newsletter is distributed electronically, we can't accommodate graphs and
figures at this time). We're looking for articles with a "how-to"
bias, and we also like to put a lighter piece in each issue. Articles that are
academic or commercial are less likely to be of interest.

If you have an interest in writing an article or contributing one that has
been previously published, please contact Pat Wegerson at weger002@tc.umn.edu
or at 612-448-1335.

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TwinSPIN
Meeting

Topic: Cultural Change - How to Make Deep Improvements Stick
Speaker: Gordon Dosher
When: Thursday, February 3, 2000 from 6-8 P.M.
Where: University of MN, Electrical Eng/Computer Science Hall, Room EE/Csi
3-180 (Minneapolis, MN)
Sponsor: Guidant, Tom Todd
Program Director: Gordon Dosher

Meeting Directions:
Please check out the maps (see below) or contact Jesse Freese (612-882-0800 or Jesse_Freese@Fissure.com)
if you need additional directions.

For maps:
1. Browse to http://www1.umn.edu/tc/maps/EECSci/
2. See more detail in the "Close up view" at http://www1.umn.edu/tc/maps/EECSci/EECSci-map.html.

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What Software Quality
Professionals Can Offer to Senior Management

by Rick Brenner

As software development organizations escalate the maturity of their
processes, they can encounter constraints imposed by the level of maturity of
other parts of the organizations in which they are embedded. One set of
constraints comes from the activities of financial managers. Particularly in
software companies, financial course changes and corrections in financial
management processes can have direct project and product quality effects.
Escalating the level of Financial Process Maturity ought to be relatively easy
for software companies, but they rarely exploit their special advantages.

Software companies are specially advantaged with respect to financial process
improvement. Financial professionals use spreadsheet applications to manage
financial reporting and budgeting to construct documents and models that are
used to allocate resources and to make enterprise decisions. Although it is not
widely recognized, these documents and models themselves are software. As
such, their authors face many of the problems that software developers face.
Financial professionals in software companies have a distinct advantage, because
they can draw on in-house expertise to improve the quality of the software
intensive components of the financial management process.

Much of the software quality knowledge within these companies applies not
only to their software products, but to their financial models and reporting
tools. Transferring that knowledge from the Software Quality organization to the
Financial organization requires translation of terminology and an understanding
of cultural differences, but once these are achieved, software companies can
harvest additional value from their Software Quality organizations. This line of
thinking leads us to these questions:

Why should software quality professionals offer
services to financial managers in their parent organizations?

What exactly do software quality professionals
have to offer to financial managers?

How can we overcome obstacles to the sharing of
capability with financial managers?


Why Offer Services
The quality of products of software companies is in part a result of the
organization's Financial Process Maturity. Raising the Financial Process
maturity level can reduce the level of wasted resources, increasing the volume
of useful available resources. Resource streams within an organization with a
more mature financial process are more reliable, which enables product and
quality groups to plan more effectively.

What do you have to
offer?
Even the most fundamental quality-enhancing measures are often underused
in financial management processes. Some of the especially applicable key
practices
of the Software
Capability Maturity Model
of the Software
Engineering Institute
are project planning, project tracking,
configuration management, training, peer reviews and quality assurance.
Processes already in use in software development can be adapted to apply to
the software-intensive processes of financial management. Here are two
examples.

Peer Reviews. Financial managers rarely conduct peer
reviews of financial models
. Quality professionals can help to develop
checklists and procedures suitable for reviewing
spreadsheet-based work products
.

Configuration Management. It is common for financial managers not to
number the versions of spreadsheet tools and models they create. Source control
systems are unheard of. It is perhaps then not surprising that large
organizations sometimes find that, upon trying to roll up the budget inputs of a
number of departments, some of the work has been done on spreadsheet forms that
were supposedly withdrawn and superseded. Software quality professionals can
help financial managers develop processes that ensure that such problems appear
much more rarely.

How can you overcome
obstacles to sharing?

The principal obstacle to sharing these capabilities is a shared lack of
appreciation of commonality between much of the financial management process and
the software development process. Beyond this, there are jarringly different
cultural patterns, and lack of a shared language for talking about the software
development issues financial managers face.

We can begin with education. Software quality professionals can learn about
the special requirements of financial processes, particularly in the spreadsheet
environment. This effort will have immediate payback, even within the software
development organization, where spreadsheets are also used. Financial
professionals can learn about how much of what they do can actually benefit from
a software-centered quality approach. We can make a good beginning by developing
assets for use by quality professionals when they use spreadsheets, and then
making them available generally within the organization. These ideas provide
another way for quality professionals to provide added value to their companies.

Copyright © 1998-2000 Richard Brenner

Rick Brenner is principal of Chaco Canyon Consulting. He
works with people in technology and software organizations who want to make
complex products that need state-of-the-art teamwork, and with organizations
that want to create innovative products by building stronger relationships
between their people. In his 20 years as a software developer, software
development manager, entrepreneur and consultant, he has developed valuable
insights into the interactions between people in a technical environment, and
between people and the technological media in which they work.

Rick Brenner can be reached at:
Chaco Canyon Consulting
10 Emerson Place, Suite 16A
Boston MA, 02114
Phone: (617) 263-1112
Fax: (617) 263-1113
email: rbrenner@ChacoCanyon.com
url: www.chacocanyon.com

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Do's
and Don'ts of Software Process Improvement #2

by Pat O'Toole

[Editor's note: This is the second of several short articles on "Do's
and Don'ts" from Pat O'Toole's experience working in an SEPG. This is
written for managers and SEPG members who are implementing CMM-based
improvements in their organizations.]

DO: Establish the "Alignment Principle"

Project managers often tell their customers, "Faster, better, or cheaper
- pick two". What they mean, of course, is that if the customer
demands a high quality product in the shortest amount of time, they reserve the
right to tell her how much it will cost. Conversely, if the customer
prefers a low cost product in the shortest amount of time, it may have quality
problems. The point is that the solution space can be constrained in only
two of the three dimensions - there must be at least one independent variable.

As an SEPG member, the "Alignment Principle" requires you to take this
concept a step farther. You need to tell senior management, "faster,
better, or cheaper - pick ONE." Since senior management has funding
and firing authority over the SEPG, however, you may want to ask something like:

"What is the business imperative in our marketplace?"

"What gives us a competitive edge in the minds of our
customers?"

"Why do our potential customers keep buying our competitor's
products?"


But if all else fails, be prepared to lay your job on the line and shout,
"Look, faster, better, or cheaper - pick ONE!"

It seems fairly obvious that if your firm manufactures pace makers,
"quality" is the attribute to be maximized. When your major metric is
the "plop factor", you quickly conclude that you will sacrifice a bit of
schedule and cost to reduce the number of field reported defects - especially
those reported by the relatives of your former customers.

What about your company? How would your senior management answer if the
question were posed to them? The response to this question is the single
most important piece of planning data for the process improvement program, as it
is the foundation of the Alignment Principle. Don't second guess senior
management's answer - get it from the horse's mouth, write it down, and
get them to sign it! (If, when asked to sign, they say, "Nay," turn
the horse around and ask again!)

Suppose senior management has just informed you that quality, as defined by
field reported defects, is the single most important competitive dimension in
the minds of your customers. So now it's time to craft the Alignment
Principle: "Achieve an annual, sustainable X% reduction in field
reported defects without degrading current levels of cost, schedule, and
functional variance."

Now you know what it means when you say that the SEPG is going to help the
projects achieve greater success - and the projects now know what's most
important to senior management. When the SEPG pilots a new process element
and demonstrates a measurable reduction of defects, the projects will be beating
down your door to get in on the act! Okay, that's a bit much, but at least
you're all finally rowing the boat in the same direction - you are aligned!

What if senior management tells you that the dimension in which you need to
excel is time to market? Your heart sinks as your mind echoes the project
managers' complaints about process getting in the way and slowing them down.
Now what do you do? Stay tuned for the next installment, "Do: Take Time
Getting Faster".

Copyright © Pat
O'Toole 2000

Pat O'Toole is one of the most active SEI authorized lead
assessors and is a Software Process Improvement Director at TeraQuest Metrics,
where he provides consulting, training, and assessment services to major
clients. He has conducted a number of formal and informal assessments,
including two Level 5 CBA IPIs.

With over 20 years of software development, project
management, and consulting experience to draw from, Mr. O'Toole works with all
different levels of management and SEPGs in establishing, evaluating, and
sustaining their process improvement initiatives. He is a popular
instructor who supplements standard training material with his vast array of
case studies and humorous examples.

Pat O'Toole can be reached at:
1316 Summit Oaks Dr.
Burnsville, MN 55337
Phone: (612) 432-0693
pat.otoole@teraquest.com

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Web Picks
by Pat Wegerson

This month's Web Picks is the Software Engineering Information Repository (SEIR)
at http//:seir.sei.cmu.edu/ . I stumbled
into this site at the Software Engineering Institute's booth at last year's
National SEPG conference in Atlanta. This is an extranet site provided by the
SEI for "the contribution and exchange of information concerning software
engineering improvement activities." Because it is an extranet, it is only
available to registered users (but registration is free!) Also, you can not only
access plenty of useful information at the SEIR but are encouraged to contribute
material to the SEIR.

The SEIR links are organized into different "domains" including CMM-based
SPI, Measurement & Metrics, People CMM, PSP, and Software Risk Management.
Each domain is well organized with categories listed within each domain. There
is material from the SEI, from other research centers, from government and
industry, and from academia. You can find things dry, inspiring, experimental,
experiential, and most things in-between. In addition to links to material from
various sources, there are also links to the home page of each source. Because
there are so many links to so many places, you can most likely find the topic
you're looking for by starting at the SEIR. If you're like me and enjoy
exploring new topics, or at least new insights into old topics, you'll want to
visit the SEIR web site often.

Copyright © Pat
Wegerson 2000

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Needs
& Leads
New!

Editor's Note: Needs & Leads is a new
feature for both the TwinSPIN newsletter and web site. In response to member
requests, Needs & Leads provides a forum
for requesting and for offering SPI related goods and services. This is offered
as a benefit to TwinSPIN members. Needs & Leads
may include commercial offerings if the item may benefit the TwinSPIN
membership. If, however, you find any offering inappropriate, misleading, or a
detriment to TwinSPIN, please contact Pat Wegerson at weger002@tc.umn.edu
or Mark Glewwe at glewwe@millcomm.com
and we will work to resolve or remove the questionable item.

Needs:

Looking for an off-the-shelf set of CMM policies and processes. Is
there any that you would recommend? We will also evaluate some
Rational tools. Do you have any suggestions regarding evaluation
techniques? Contact Bill Gilbreath, SQA Mgr. at Retek, at william_gilbreath@retek.com


Leads:

Looking to fill 5 spots for CMM KPA PAT team members. Contact Lonnie
Sifferath, iDLX (formerly Deluxe) at Lonnie.Sifferath@deluxe.com

 


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Announcements
& Calendar

Recent and upcoming U.S. SPIN meetings:


SPIN

Date

Topic

Presenter

Albuquerque
www.abqspin.org/

1/11/00-
1/13/00

Intro to the CMM

Center for Information Systems Engineering (CISE)

Association for Software
Engineering Excellence (Dallas, TX)

2/1/00

TBD

 

Atlanta

2/15/00

Speaker not confirmed yet.

 

Austin

2/15/00

Benefits of High Maturity Organizations

Dr. Bill Curtis, TeraQuest Metrics

Bay Area Round Table
www.ics.uci.edu/IRUS/

2/12/00

Just in Time Code Generation

Robert Griesemer, Sun

Boston
http://www.Boston-SPIN.org

2/15/00

Using Quality to Drive Project Lifecycles

Johanna Rothman, Rothman Consulting Group, Inc.

Chicago

2/3/00

Thinking Outside the Requirements Management
"Box"

Larry Boldt, Technology Builders Inc.

Los Angeles
sunset.usc.edu/cse/pub/event/LASpin.html

1/26/00

The Language of Change and Alternate Forms of
Assessments

M. West & T. Sullivan, Xerox
Dr. K. Nidiffer, SPC

New York CitySPIN
www.nycspin.org/main.html

1/11/00

Developing Software in the New Millennium - The Impact
of E-Commerce

George Lieberman,
WitCapital

North Jersey

Managing For Quality Requirements

Richard Bender, TBI

Omaha
www.omahaspin.org/

1/18/00

Unified Software Development Process

Rational Corp.

Philadelphia
www.eptech.com/quality/spin/SPIN.html

3/??/00

Earned Value and Risk Management

SEI

Phoenix SPIN/IEEE-CS/ACM
keith.favreau@juno.com

1/18/00

eXtreme
Programming (XP)

Linda Rising &
Norm Janoff

Pittsburgh

1/12/00

Using PSP/TSP to Build Successful Software Teams

Don McAndrews,
SEI

Research Triangle Park (NC)

 

No information

 

Rochester, NY

 

No information

 

San Antonio

1/12/00

Testing TBD

Dr. Magdy Hanna, Software Dimensions

Silicon Valley

 

No information

 

Southern California
www.ics.uci.edu/IRUS/

12/3/99

Practical Software Measurement -- A Guide to Objective
Program Insight

Leia White, SPC

Toronto

1/20/00

Institutionalizing Risk Management

Dr. Patrick O'Brien, Rockwell Collins

Twin Cities Quality Assurance Association (TCQAA)
www.tcqaa.org

2/10/00

Software Process Improvement in 12 Steps

Kent Schnaith,
West Group

Washington, D.C. SPIN

2/2/00

Cyber Threat to the Critical Infrastructure

Special Agent Jim Christy, Defense-wide Information
Assurance Program

Washington, D.C. SSQ

 

No information

 

 

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About TwinSPIN
For the Minneapolis/St. Paul Regional Area

TwinSPIN Mission Statement
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The TwinSPIN software process improvement network (SPIN) is a regional
organization established in January of 1996 as a forum for the free and open
exchange of software process improvement experiences and ideas. Representatives
from industry, government, academia, other professional organizations, and
consultants are welcome to participate. Our mission is to help sustain
commitment and enhance skills in the area of software process improvement
through an active program of networking and mutual support. The organization
strives to serve as a source of educational and experiential information for its
members, other SPIN organizations, and the general community of software
professionals. (May 1996)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Meetings are normally held on the 1st Thursday of each month from 6-8 PM.
TwinSPIN is a non-profit organization.
============================================================================

All articles, reviews and commentaries are copyright by the authors, unless
otherwise noted. All rights are reserved to the authors. We encourage sharing
the TwinSPIN Newsletter in whole or in part if copyright and attribution are
always included.

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Date: 
2000-02-01T00:00:00