Portfolio Software Value Management

The CIO Forum

Last year our CIO, Mike Harris, was invited to speak at the annual CIO Forum, a gathering of senior-level IT executives. Conference sessions are led by peers or industry experts, like Mike, who have a clear understanding of the business obstacles inherent in controlling large technology departments and how they can be managed and resolved. His presentation, "The Value Visualization of IT," shared his ideas about how to get the most value out of software development initiatives in order to drive better decision making and improve value flow.

His presentation was so well received, that he was invited to speak again this year! Of course, while it's nice to be recognized, the conference is a great opportunity for us as well, allowing us to better understand the issues at the top-of-mind for CIOs and to find out what they're dealing with on a day-to-day basis. In turn, we can provide some insight into strategies and tactics they may not have considered before.

For instance, Mike's presentation this year, "Portfolio Software Value Management," provided actionable steps for maximizing the flow of business value from software. He also shared insights from his forthcoming book, "The Business Value of Software" (publication date 2017), focusing on the best practices for deriving value from software development initiatives.

Industry trends suggest that IT management is increasingly being held accountable for the value of IT initiatives, and yet little effort is made to actually measure, track, and optimize the value of software development in any meaningful way. In the words of Mike, "It's appalling that so few organizations have implemented the necessary steps to demonstrate their value directly to the business in terms that they can understand and openly discuss."

Download his presentation for suggestions on how organizations can move forward down this path - and let us know what you think!

Download

Written by Default at 05:00

5 Trends in Software Security

2015 brought a number of high-profile security breaches, putting company and consumer information at risk. Ashley Madison, VTech, even the Department of Health and Human Services had their data compromised.

It could have been avoided.

You've heard this before, but companies like DCG, and my company, proServices, will continue to bring it up until security is taken more seriously. The first step is staying aware of the latest security threats in order to appropriately ward them off. But, as one risk dies out, another will always take its place.

Risk Management

Download this white paper to learn the top 5 vulnerabilities of 2015 - and what's on the horizon for 2016.

Download

 

Rob Cross
PSC, Vice President

Written by Rob Cross at 05:00

Test Maturity Model integration (TMMi): Definition and History

Tom Cagley“All models are wrong, but some are useful.” – George E. P. Box

Testing is a mechanism for affecting product quality. The definition is of quality is varied, ranging from precise (Crosby – “Conformance to requirements”) to meta-physical (Juran – “Quality is an attitude or state of mind”). Without a standard model of testing that codifies a definition, it is difficult to determine whether testing is affecting quality in a positive manner. The Test Maturity Model integration (TMMi®) is an independent test maturity model. A model provides a framework of the activities and processes that need to be addressed, rather than merely laying out a set of milestones or events that need to be followed explicitly.

The TMMi is a reference model representing an abstract framework of interlinked concepts based on expert opinions. The Wikipedia definition suggests that a reference model can be used as a communication vehicle for ideas and concepts among the members of the model’s community. The use of a model as a tool to define the boundaries of a community also amplifies its usefulness as a communication tool, as it defines the language the community uses to describe itself. Thus, the TMMi is a testing reference model, for the testing community, defining the boundaries of testing, the language of testing and a path for process improvement and assessment.

Many developers (and development managers) think of testing as a group of activities that occur at the end of coding. This flies in the face of software engineering practices that have been in use since the 1980s and the Agile tenant of integrating testing into the entire development process. The TMMi model explicitly details a framework in which testing is not an event or gate that has to be hurdled, but rather a set of activities that stretch across the development lifecycle (waterfall, iterative or Agile). The TMMi model extends the boundary of testing to the entire development process.

The model lays out a set five maturity levels and sixteen process areas, ranging from test environment to defect prevention. The model has a similar feel to the classic CMMI model. The TMMi, through its framework of maturity levels, process areas, practices and sub-practices, lays out best practices for testing that should be considered when developing testing practices. Like other reference models, the TMMi provides a framework but does not prescribe how any project or organization should do any of the practices or sub-practices. By not prescribing how practices are to be implemented, the TMMi can be used in any organization that includes testing. A framework that is neutral to lean, Agile or waterfall practices is a tool that can be molded by managers and practitioners to make testing more efficient and effective in almost any organization.

DCG is a TMMi Accredited Supplier, which means that we can walk you through the model and address all of your questions and concerns, as well as assist with TMMi assessments and appraisals. If you're interested in learning more about how the TMMi works, read this case study on how DCG helped one organization to apply the TMMi and improve its testing processes.


Tom Cagley
VP of Consulting, TMMi Accredited Assessor

Written by Tom Cagley at 05:00

Software Quality ZZZzzzz … Boring!

Rob CrossEnjoy today's guest post from PSC Vice President, Rob Cross!

For over a decade PSC has analyzed and scrubbed code for quality defects. Yet, it’s almost a standing joke in the industry that software quality is still a “nice to have” and not a “need to have.” For example, we recently met with a prospective customer who, during the initial meeting, informed us that he knew his organization’s software had many flaws in it. However, sales had not been negatively impacted and customers were okay with being inconvenienced by buggy software as long as they had access to great support, where their voices could be heard and problems eventually addressed. If this example is as irritating to read as it was to write, then you have some context for what happens next.

Me: Guys, I understand you’re doing what has always been done in the past, but eventually such practices will catch up to you. Perhaps you should seize the opportunity to build more reliable and secure software. This would help you to to strengthen your brand and increase engineering productivity and efficiency, leading to higher profits and less risk.

Prospect: We’ve made investments in the past by buying several tools for our engineers, which provide us with defect information.

Me: So you have trained every engineer in how to use the tool, purchased enough licenses for all of them to access the tool, integrated use of the tool into your processes, hired an administrator for the tool, have regular training sessions for the tool, developed or subscribed to a coding standard, produced reports capturing the flow and accountability of the data throughout this process and provided management a view into this so that they can make decisions? Is that what you mean? And one more thing, how do you get a guarantee from your engineers that they will never compromise on this process?

Prospect: The reality is that we put up a good fight, but our engineers are stretched too thin. The only thing that is guaranteed around here is that our engineers will be distracted daily with fire drills from our support team to fix a critical defect found by our customers. We don’t have the time, focus or energy to do the stuff you’re talking about, but we make the best effort.

After explaining that PSC does all of the above as a turnkey solution and guarantees the results, the prospect decided that it didn't need help for now. With its next huge release scheduled for the following month, it felt that it couldn't spare the cycles.

Quality is Really Boring

I understand looking through your own code is not fun. That’s why every writer has an editor. Writers love to create new things for people to experience and hate reading their own stuff for quality or issues – but there is still a process in place for oversight. Why do we treat our software developers any differently?

If you gave a software engineer the option to work on the next new “hot” release or spend the next two weeks peer reviewing software from the last release, which do you think he or she would choose?

Quality might be boring; however, its importance is core to a company’s brand in every way. In many cases, your software is your brand because it powers the products or delivers an experience your customers will remember and associate with your brand. It costs your company millions of dollars every year to acquire new customers and keep your existing ones, but you can lose them in less than one software glitch.  

Net-Net

It is sometimes a tortuous existence being an advocate for software quality, but life doesn’t have to be that hard. There is a company out there willing to help. If the above story sounds familiar, please give us a call.


Rob Cross
PSC, Vice President

 

Written by Rob Cross at 05:00

Small Changes, Big Gains

Cycling

At DCG, we admire Sir Dave Brailsford, who turned UK Cycling from enthusiastic also-rans to a world power. Obviously, having talented individuals helped, but adding together small percentage changes to kit, processes and physiology led to huge gains in performance.

Sir Dave continues this relentless focus on facts and measurement with Team Sky. Careful adjustments achieve the small gains that, added together, set the team on a different level from the competition. Every change has a purpose, whether it’s to optimise the bikes, improve training, or even to help cyclists sleep better by bringing their own pillows on tour.

DCG believes that software development can use the same approach to improving project delivery.   Like Sir Dave, we concentrate on measuring the facts and optimising processes to deliver significantly improved results.

We aim to enable clients to visualise the true value of software projects. Our Value Visualization Framework (VVF) is a quick and inclusive way of surfacing the business value of software change. Quantifying the business value of new features clarifies and accelerates prioritisation of the product backlog, leading to higher value delivery earlier than ever before.

Nasty crashes do sometimes happen in development, and our Project Triage Solution diagnoses and quantifies the changes needed to restore or salvage value.

Effective development processes, starting with metrics-based parametric estimates, aid good governance and enable organisations to deliver business change on time and on budget with fewer headaches.


Alan Cameron
Managing Director, DCG UK

Written by Default at 05:00

"It's frustrating that there are so many failed software projects when I know from personal experience that it's possible to do so much better - and we can help." 
- Mike Harris, DCG Owner

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