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.
Like a lot of people I put my resume on job sites. Yesterday I was sent an automated human resources message. It read, “A job opening matching your profile for a position of Sr Principal Agile Coach has just been posted in our Career Section.” There is nothing in my resume that shows an interest in becoming an Agile. I thought well, perhaps, the human resource bot searched the internet and got a lot hits on David Longstreet and Agile (there are over 500). Perhaps it was my article, “Agile Methods and Other Fairy Tales” that got the bots attention.
Perhaps it was the fact that those professionals in Agile wrote that I was a troll or “a so called international consultant.” As an FYI, when anyone starts a sentence with “a so called…” what follows is not going to be a complement.
I decided to apply for the position to see what happens and I will keep you all informed.
For those who want to read my ideas on Agile (and for those HR bots) you can see them at http://www.softwaremetrics.com/Agile/
Cheech and Chong, a 1970’s comic act, portrayed themselves in one of their skits as Siamese twins that were not identical. They were paternal twins physically connected at the hip. Of course this was impossible, absurd and a very laughable idea. Whenever I hear about pair programming I can’t help but think about Cheech and Chong and the absurdity of the idea. It is like asking two teenagers to share a mobile phone. It ain’t going to work folks. It is absurd and laughable.
The idea is that one programmer writes code and the other programmer stands over his or her shoulder and watches for mistakes. When the first programmer gets tired they switch positions. I think they are suppose to touch hands like professional wrestlers do in a a tag team wrestling match. How cool would it be to called something like Stone Cold Coder or Diva Developer. You could go to work dressed in costume. Instead of programming sessions you could have smack down coding sessions.
You don’t have to implement Agile to try out the idea of pair programming. I would suggest trying pair writing. Have one person start to type and have another person stand over them and correct them as they go. This is an awesome idea! I am curious to see how long this process would last. How about pair cooking? You have one person cook and another person correct them as they go – nice. How about pair driving? You could have one person sit in the backseat and correct the driver. I think that is called back seat driving. Sorry pair programming is a joke of an idea and absurd.
Want to read more about “pair programming”
If you are having a hard time coming up with a pseudo name for your pair programming team check out the auto Professional Name generator at wrestles – http://www.wrestlingname.com/
Professional Wrestling –http://www.wwe.com/
Want to read more about “pair programming”
The great exalted software guru measures time by the size of the USB drive I give to him. I brought with me a 16 GB USB drive able to fit on a key chain to give to the guru. I laid the new 16GB drive at his feet and the guru picked it up and examined it closely.
He said, “It has been a long time since you last visited.”
I asked, “How long has it been?”
The guru replied, “It has been 15 gigabytes ago.”
Yes, the guru was right it had been a long time. The guru said, “You first visited me 16 gigabytes ago.”
I said, “How can it be that I gave you a 16 gigabyte USB drive today and I have visited you many times before.”
The guru smiled and said, “Time begins now not yesterday.”
I thought I am going to need a bit more explanation than that and I started to speak and say, “Exalted software guru…”.
The guru held up his hand and I stopped. The guru continued and said, “In software the first day of learning starts today not yesterday.” I started to speak again and the guru held up his hand to stop me. The guru said, “skills that were useful yesterday are not useful today. Those skills you develop today will not be useful tomorrow. This is why software professionals need to learn something new every day.”
He reached under his rob and scratched himself. I felt a bit uncomfortable not knowing how to respond and then he pulled out a 5 ¼ floppy disk.
I thought, “640KB.”
He said, “no 720KB.”
I said, “16GB minus 720KB is really just about 16GB, so the 720KB is insignificant.”
The guru smiled and said, “YES!, what you learned in the past may not be useful today or tomorrow.”
I asked, “if skills that I learn today are not useful tomorrow then why learn them today?”
The great exalted one held up his hand and said, “Why do you keep trying to interrupt me?” I apologized and he continued and said, “you need skills today and you need to learn tomorrow’s skills today too.” I nodded because I started to understand.
Just like he always does the guru picked up his new 16GB USB drive and walked back into his cave. He waved and said, “I will see you in a few terabytes.” It was his way of saying I will see you soon.
I walked down the hill and thought what I had learned today. I need to learn something new every day about tomorrow. I can’t live off of the technical skills I learned in the past. Then I thought, “I wonder where I can buy a 1 terabyte USB drive.”
More from the guru…
The little dog Toto pulls back the curtain and exposes the Wizard. In this most embarrassing moment the Wizard thunders out, “pay no attention to the little man behind the curtain.” Well, there are many IT organizations and IT “professionals” saying the same thing these days. Too many IT professionals are Wizards pretending to be something they are not. They manipulate knobs and dials creating a lot of smoke and noise. They give the appearance what they are doing is really complex and sometimes even frightening. When challenged they will speak in techno talk in hopes they will not be challenged.
Over the years, I have pulled back a lot of IT curtains and heard over and over again “pay not attention to the little man behind the curtain.”
Watch out for fling monkeys too!
Read more at Reboot! Rethink and Restarting Software Development
Some friends or mine David and Jo Cowdery operate a vineyard and winery in the south of France called Chateau La Bouscade. They have received several awards for their wines, so I was excited when I received a couple of bottles wine from them. What I found interesting is the bottles were sealed with screw caps not corks. Since I do not know a lot about wine, I asked my friend Jo, “What’s up with the screw caps?” She laughed and told me that screw caps were far superior than corks. She told me that all the wines at Chateau La Bouscade have screw caps. “Say it ain’t so, Jo!”
The scientific evidence is overwhelming that screw caps are better than corks in a bottle of wine. It turns out a bottle of wine with a cork has at least a 1 in 10 chance of having cork taint. Cork taint ain’t a good thing either. It makes wine smell like shoes or a wet dog.
So what does this have to do with software? A lot. I have spent years gathering scientific evidence on the best methods to develop software and the scientific evidence is overwhelming. I am not alone because organization like SEI and QAI share my findings. Just like it is hard for get consumers of wine and wine makers to change it is hard to get software developers to abandon traditions.
So why do wine makers still use corks and how did this tradition get started? Tevye a character in the Fiddler on the Roof sums it up nicely, “I will tell you… I don’t know…its Tradition!” The same can be said about software development. I don’t know why so many software organizations refuse to adopt best practices.
There is an old proverb saying, “Seldom does Saul become Paul.” It means that seldom do people actually change. What happens is a new generation has to grow up with the idea from the beginning. There are pioneers like David Cowderoy who lead the way for a whole new generation of wine makers. The new generation starts with the idea from the beginning. A new generation of human factors engineers are going to be the future of software development. These human factors engineers understand the importance of studying actual users and customers. One best practice is to study the business and not to be passive in the requirements process.
I was speaking at a conference and I was asked the question, “if things like metrics are such a good idea, then why don’t more software organization adopt metrics?” I don’t know why? I don’t know why people are overweight or why they smoke or why some wine makers still use corks. I guess it is like Tevye says, “Tradition!” Because It can’t be explained with logic.
For my non American friends
“Say it ain’t so Joe” is a reference to Shoeless Joe Jackson who was accused of fixing the outcome of the 1919 World Series. Legend has it that as Jackson was leaving the courthouse during the trial, a young boy begged of him, “Say it ain’t so, Joe!” and that Joe did not respond.
To learn more about the argument of screw tops v. cork see http://www.hoguecellars.com/feature/homework.html
To be fair I need to post how computers are like women.
Computers are like Women…
…No one but the creator understands her internal logic.
… The native language they use to communicate with other computers is incomprehensible to everyone else (men can’t understand women).
… Even the smallest mistakes are stored forever in long term memory.
… As soon as you make a commitment to one, you find yourself spending half your paycheck on accessories for it.
…You do the same thing for years, and suddenly it’s wrong.
My son is getting married this weekend and I suggested the entire wedding should be Agile. That means there is limited planning up front because the bride does not really know what she wants and she keeps changing her mind. The wedding and reception does not have to be delivered all at once because it could be delivered in iterations. If it works for software development then it should work for other things, too.
On the other hand they could take some simple advice from wedding planners.
1. Before going completely into debt for your wedding, create a budget.
2. Allow plenty of time to plan; the more rushed you are the more money you’ll spend.
Perhaps it is a better idea that software developers take some advice from wedding planners instead.
It is summertime and I need a new lawnmower. Lucky for me a friend of mine named Bob is selling lawnmowers. Bob use to be a software developer who specialized in gathering requirements and became an advocate for Agile Software Development. I felt bad for Bob because he was recently laid off from Megatelecommunications Company With Way Way Too Many Employees, INC.
I went to the the lawnmower shop where my friend was working and met up “Bob.” After the obligatory greeting of “hey, how’s it going,” “how is so and so,” and “who is working here and there,” we got right down to business. Bob said, “How much horsepower do you want?” I thought, “What is horsepower and how does that relate to cutting grass.?” so I responded, “What are my choices?” Bob said, “2, 5, 6, and 7.” I stood and kind of stared at Bob and he said, “David, if you can’t tell me how much horsepower you need, then I can’t really help you.” I figured that more was better so I responded, “7.” Bob said, “Good choice!” I started feeling better.
“The next thing you need to tell me is how big you want the cut diameter.” I said, “cut diameter?” Bob rolled his eyes and said in a condescending manner, ” Yeah. the cut diameter.” Bob said, “Your choices are 20, 21, or 22 inches.” This time I choose a number in the middle and said, “21 inches.” He chuckled and said, “You can’t get a 7 horsepower with a 21 inch cut diameter.”
Bob asked, “How many speeds three, six or variable speed?” I asked, “What do you recommend, Bob.” Bob quipped back, “You have not done your homework have you?” He continued on and started lecturing me and said, “David this not hard. You need to go home and start doing your research. There are plenty of online resources. When you have figured out what you need come back and talk to me.” I felt a bit stupid and left the lawnmower shop.
I was driving home and noticed another lawnmower shop and thought I would pull in and do a bit of research. As I walked in a nice man greeted me with a big friendly, “Howdy! I’m John what brings you in today.” I said, “I am looking for a lawnmower and I need to do some research.”
John said, “Can I ask you some questions?”
He asked, “How big is your yard?” and I responded, “Oh about 3/4 of an acre.”
“Do you like to cut your grass?”
“I hate it.”
“Are you trying to get some exercise when you cut your grass?”
I looked at John in a sort of curious manner and he said, “The reason I am asking these questions is to figure out your needs. If you want to get some exercise while you cut your grass then you may need a push mower. If on the other hand you just want to get it over with as fast as possible you may need a riding mower.”
I nodded and said, “Oh, okay.”
John kept asking questions like, “Will your wife and kids use the mower or will it be just you.” After sometime and a bunch of questions John smiled and said, “Let me make some recommendations for you based upon your specific needs.” He walked me over to a mower and explained to me how it would benefit me. I thought this guy knows his stuff.
I was really excited and purchased the mower from John. Then I thought about Bob. I thought, “I never really liked that guy.”