Agile Instructions and Training

Often Dilbert says it best. I do have to wonder what will be the next fad du jour for software development.

IT Job Market May Improve in 2011

CareerBuilder surveyed IT managers in the United States in charge of hiring. The job site subcontracted the interview work with these IT managers out to Harris Interactive, which did surveys from November 15 through December 2, 2010.

When the numbers were all tabulated, 42 per cent of the managers contacted said they planned to add permanent, full-time IT people in 2011, up from only 32 per cent who said they would hire full-timers in the IT department a year ago. Sixty-six per cent said they will be increasing the compensation of their existing IT staff in 2011 – the average expected pay raise works out to 3 per cent – and 56 per cent of those polled said they were worried about losing their best employees as the economy continues to improve. Salaries for new positions are expected to go up by between 1 and 3 per cent.

Measurements and Curfews

Measurements without consequences (rewards and punishments) is like giving a teenager a curfew and then not enforcing it. After very short period of time it gets ignored.

The adage what gets measured gets done is incomplete. What gets rewarded gets repeated is more complete.

If you establish a measurement it needs consequences both good and bad; otherwise, it will be ignored. By the way, if you have a teenager and you give them a curfew and don’t enforce it, your teenage will ignore the curfew.

Published in: on January 12, 2011 at 11:12  Leave a Comment  

Where is the beef? Lean is just another buzzword.

I can’t help but think here we go again. So many people, especially those pesky consultants, jump right on the bandwagon. Here comes the books, the conference and especially those consultants. I am wondering where’s is the beef. I see a lot words (a lot of bun), but little beef in this new “lean” thing.

I am getting worn out working in an industry that goes from buzzword to buzzword. We are leaving Agile behind us and now turning towards “lean.” I know what lean means in regards to meat. It lean means without out fat or just the beef. I am not sure what it means in software other than defining what needs to be done.

I just got to ask, “Where’s is the beef?” Remember the Wendy’s Commercial from the 80’s.

I know, I know…here come all the emails full of buzzwords. How about trying to be more disciplined. How about trying to learn about the industry. How about moving an industry forward instead of jumping on the next buzzword and trying to make a buck from it.

Published in: on January 11, 2011 at 16:18  Leave a Comment  

British Gas sues Accenture!

British Gas is suing Accenture. Accenture put in place a SAP based system which led to massive complaints against the gas supplier. It turns out that Centrica, British Gas parent, wrote off about 300 million dollars following errors with the system.

British Gas is seeking a multi-million pound damage for the installation of the billing system, which, “caused huge disruption” for the company and its customers. British Gas claims the billing system was riddled with “millions of errors.” Accenture is claiming this is “inaccurate” because it was probably on one million errors not millions, but who is counting.

A preliminary appeal brought by Accenture against British Gas was tossed out by an English judge. “British Gas is now one step closer to holding Accenture to account for the disruption caused to our customers.”

This lawsuit is paving the way for other “users” to sue its outsourced IT development.

Are we doomed?

Is History Repeating Itself?

About one hundred years ago blacksmiths were considered a highly skilled occupation and like software development, it was labor intensive.  While the blacksmith had been around for centuries, it was the Industrial Revolution that created a rapid growth in employment from 1880 and  1915[1].   The blacksmith was critical to the Industrial Revolution, and the software developer is a critical component of the information and knowledge revolutions.

If, in 1915, someone would have suggested to the million plus blacksmiths employed in the industrialized economies they would be obsolete in less than 50 years, they would have thought that person crazy.  The idea of working with metals, fabricating metals, did not evaporate; it was the role of blacksmith that became obsolete.    The role of blacksmithing turned into ironworkers, and those blacksmiths that did not learn the new skills of ironworkers were not able to find employment.

Instead of creating everything from scratch metal workers (weldings) began to assemble parts and pieces together.  We are seeing this same basic trend in software development today.

As software development rolls down the road of progress, the programmer will become obsolete; and the idea of software developer will continue into the future.  I imagine there are those reading proclaiming, “You will always need someone writing code,” and I am sure there were those blacksmiths who could not imagine a world without them, either.  It will be a combination of automation and outsourcing that will make the Western programmer obsolete.

The story of the blacksmith does not end with the decline of employment.  Today blacksmiths are artists and a novelty profession.  The British Artist Blacksmith Association (BABA) continues blacksmithing as an artist profession as well as offering courses on blacksmithing, and they have regular events..   It has nearly 700 members worldwide and their members create brilliant works of art.


[1] United States Statistical Abstract 1915.  Page 233 Table 158

IT Economics News Still Bad — sorry!

The information economy still is struggling in the United States.      Telecommunications continue to slash jobs with the labor pool at 927,700 workers, down 1,700 in May and down 49,200 since May 2009. Data processing and hosting companies handed out 2,500 pink slips.

The information sector includes publishing, movies, broadcasting, telecommunications, and data processing and hosting companies has struggled for the past decade.  This sector has lost nearly 844,000 jobs since it peak in 2001 or about 25 percent of the once well paying jobs.

Published in: on June 8, 2010 at 21:03  Leave a Comment  
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Simple Solutions

One of the hardest things to do is to discover the simplest solution to a problem.  To often software developers come up with the most complex solution instead of the simplest one.

The simplest solution is the solution with the least amount of functionality to solve the problem.   This makes the solution simple to design, simple to code, and simple to test too.   Another advantage of simple solutions it is easy to document and communicate.

Scaling Music and Software

I am working on a lecture for my economics class about production theory.  Production theory works nicely for software development, music and    information workers too.

Output is the result of labor and capital.  The amount of music produced is the result of musicians (labor) and instruments (capital).    As more and more musicians are added to the process of making music the process of making music becomes more formal and there are overhead costs.

If we start with one musician playing a piano, then there is not much overhead required.  Add  three musicians and you get a quartet and there is some communication that needs to take place.  Add about 96 more musicians and you get an orchestra.

The cost per output (the average product) begins to rise because you have overhead costs.  If you have about 100 or so musicians you need a conductor.   Sheet music is required too (formal documentation not necessarily required for a small group).  We see the marginal cost, the cost to produce additional music, begins to rise.  The reason are additional labor is required that does not produce music directly.

This same model works for software development too.  Output for software is the amount of functionality produced.  As the project scales upward formal processes are just required.   There project resources (labor) required such as a project manager.  Formal methods and documentation is required to help in communication.

So there you have it…. Production theory works for information workers.

The End of Vaporware?

Software companies are being held accountable for problems in its software projects, misrepresenting what a software product does and being deceitful project timelines. A British judge also said the Red Sky software development company should have better understood the requirements of its customer. An earlier court ruling found that EDS misrepresented project timelines and was what its software product actually did. It sounds like the end of vaporware.

Red Sky sold hotel management software to London’s Kingsway Hall Hotel but the Hotel found problems with the software immediately. Kingsway Hall complained and called customer service and got customer no service instead. The software company knew of problems with its software and failed to disclose those problems because it wanted Kingsway to buy its software. It is simple as that. The question remains should a software company disclose known issues to its customers. It turns out British courts are saying yes. Red Sky should have told its customer of problems with the product when demonstrating it and chosen more demonstrations for it that more closely matched the customer’s own business requirements, the Court ruled.

Does any other industry believe or think they should not be held accountable for product flaws that may cause its customers harm or injury. Red Sky tried to rely on a clause in its standard terms and conditions which said that the only remedy available to customers if the software did not perform as advertised was to make use of its maintenance and support functions (a.k.a. call customer service).

Clause meant that Kingsway could not sue it for a refund on the software or for the additional costs it incurred as a result of its failings. The High Court disagreed and said that Red Sky’s clause was unfair under the Unfair Contract Terms Act. It said that this Act applied and protected Kingsway because negotiations between the companies had been one-sided on the issue of liability. His Honor Judge Toulmin also said that the software was not up to the tasks that Kingsway needed to use it for, and which Red Sky should have known were part of Kingsway’s needs when buying the product.

This decision is on the heels of an earlier decision. The High Court ruled that EDS had lied about its software when selling it to BSkyB and awarded interim damages of £270m (about $400 millions) against the software supplier – ouch! The court also agreed that EDS had been deceitful in pursuing the contract, finding that the information technology company had deliberately misrepresented how long it would take to complete the job. BSkyB Wins Legal Victory Against EDS –

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703906204575027303086931726.htmlHigh Court rules software liability clause not ‘reasonable’ http://www.channelregister.co.uk/2010/05/12/red_sky_liability_ruling/

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