Quality comes from Professional Responsibility

Testing is a double edge sword. Testing is done for two reasons: to catch any unintended consequence of changes and (for risk management) giving a fresh view to find anything that would be a reputation issue if it reached a customer. However, because testing is done there may be a tendency for a “I’ve got a safety net” mentality that can allow corners to be cut and process precision to be lost. Read more of this post

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Legacy already

It used to be that I would expect the PCs being installed on desks would be one model behind the market – something would have been adjusted or replaced in the new model but it would not be so far ahead of our newly tested installation. In some suppliers the speed of innovation has increased and the availability of supply and services expands almost daily.

There is nothing more frustrating to me than towards the end of a project attending the launch of a product or service that you wished was available at project start. That is what happened to me today. We had the vision of focusing of the customer’s contact preference, being responsive, integrating backed systems with customer side service.

The organisation is close to the installation of the final part of the last phase of the 80% solution and I have just met a company that is launching proven technology that does exactly the unified Communications and CRM we wanted but wasn’t available in the UK. They have been in the USA and Europe for 4 years, today they launch in uk. The best solution available is legacy already – before the project managers have signed off the last work. While the return on investment will be realised, it won’t be the shiny new system we wanted on day one.

That is the frustration in business solutions – for most organisations, the solution is out there but finding it is harder.

HomeTech London 30 June 2011

Last day of the Home Technology Show (www.hometechnologyevent.com) at Excel in London’s Docklands. I haven’t been to a show like this for a few years but a new project sparked an interest. I was expecting it to be a gadget fest with a few specialist building suppliers for switch panels and lighting effects. The market has changed.

Today’s show tells me that all the thinks the geeks were chatting about over lunch in 2000 (like Bill Gates home or the latest Phillips lab demo) are now mass market. You can have a house build to the best eco standards and have integrated home cinema projection units, TV’s wider than the wall in my first flat, wireless sound, video and security. All with the wires and switches hidden in single remote or wall switches. You can even have a flatscreen TV in the hall that shows you your security cameras view but switches when the doorbell rings to display a high quality film of a fish tank nicely framed into the wall. Some members of my family have wanted to watch TV in the bath – I won’t show them the one with a glass mosaic surround.

A friend’s husband has just built himself a shed. The way to keep him happy there would be to get him the so very realistic indoor golf kit – just like the simulators in the amusement parks. He could play with family across the internet or just try out a new course anywhere in the world.

To keep me happy, I want more variety. 3D TV still needs me to wear glasses but it is improving each year. I could get myself a new docking station and have a flush wall mounted IPad in my office or a wall mount, a custom coded house control app and flat wireless speakers.

For me the highlight of the launches was a simple iPad mounting gadget – a music stand that will safely hold my iPad. Why didn’t I think of that? Of course, not all iPad users are musician but they do use the technology they have in as many ways as they are individuals. Music stand becomes recipe book holder, iPad baby mobile stand, or speakers’ lectern. For those of us who are developing an iPad-lifter-arm, there is now an app for that too! (www.ratstands.com

Back to the office for a conference call in a meeting room with a phone line but no phone and poor mobile cell reception. Frustration! As a project manager often finds, making do with the equipment in the temporary office isn’t always fun and the budget doesn’t always stretch to a refurbishment. The Revolabs FLX teleconferencing system (www.revolabs.com) I saw at the show would be ok in a large brief case as a portable meeting room conference phone kit. Encrypted and wireless it only needs power and a phone line: no more trailing cables. Time to start a new equipment wish list.

My dirty little secret: code in the raw

This is a unashamed geek post. 

I was asked this week why I gave up being a programmer and moved into software quality and project management. Read more of this post

Software Testing: QA or QC

In every other field the testing of products is called Quality Control (QC) but in IT (software especially, it is called QA (Quality Assurance).    This is a historic anomaly.

In the early years of computing, computer time was so precious that programmers had to submit their code for a review to prove they had followed all the coding standards and local rules before it would be typed in to the system, compiled and (hopefully) run. This process check was quality assurance (QA).  Often those doing the checking were not skilled programmers so could not actually test the code (QC) to see if it would work.

Eventually, programmers got used to typing their own code into PCs and the QA team became mainly system testers.

“New Google” or “Classic Google please”?

The Google search engine has changed.  Does it serve the same purpose? Does it serve the same stakeholders as the world thought it did?

Google is no longer the tool that told you where to find the history of snow plows but the top of the list are sites where you can buy them. It doesn’t compare prices but it does favour paid adverts and commercial sites. I don’t know if that was intentional (it will help Google as a business get paid more) or an interpretation of “most people now use the internet to shop” that the press would have us believe. Read more of this post

Tools for communication within the team

Some years ago, I tried something with a project team that could never be in the office at the same time. 

Each lunchtime, I’d check my notes of the last day or so and make notes about the decisions made and events of the day.  I had just learnt html (the first time round) and this daily log became a web page on our server.  It was a way of making sure people knew what was happening across time zones and work patterns.  It worked but I began to feel frustrated that it was only my voice.  Read more of this post

Scaleablity: strength or weakness?

One of my current projects is the consolidation of a diverse collections of legacy “systems” into one end-to-end integrated business system. Why are we doing it? Efficiency.  The organisation can streamline its operations and free staff to concentrate on the higher value work they never get to do at the moment (because they are doing things to join up the current systems manually.)  Scalability will be a strength for this system. Read more of this post

IT Project failure: can we blame the techies?

The business commentators have noticed: IT is not giving most businesses the benefits they claim IT should.   The projects themselves bring change that the businesses and their people aren’t handling properly.  IT projects lock wasteful practices into new systems. The dream and the promises have been broken.

It is so easy to throw stones at IT people. Read more of this post

Adoption of technology curve

The adoption of technology has a curve: leading edge, fast followers, a drop off where some of the fast followers become disillusioned, the technology matures and around 80% of the market place suddenly appears, before a decline as the world moves on.

This curve was documented by EW Rodgers, you may find his book (and one by Paul Sloane) interesting.

It is so easy for leaders or fast followers to forget they are in that role until the mass market catches them up and they feel like they are repeating themselves.

I think Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software is reaching the mass market.  Many organisations have tried it over the last few years – unfortunately, not always successfully. Read more of this post