A Fatal Flaw in Big Agile?

Posted by Robert Merrill on December 19, 2013 under Agile Methods, Estimation, Uncategorized | Be the First to Comment

In Ways to Implement Agile Without Breaking The Bank, James Sullivan explains how Agile practices can be applied, piecemeal, to yield benefits even on big projects, where one of the Big Agile framework like SaFE or DAD might be called for, but not affordable. Though I’ve catalyzed several Agile adoptions, I’m not yet that familiar with these Big Agile techniques. So I read the article with great interest, to understand how people like Mr. Sullivan are thinking. I believe I have a pretty firm grasp on why Agile works, and therefore, what its Load-Bearing Walls are. So I read, checklist in mind, looking for what’s not there.

  • Iterative development, with regular reviews of running software. Check.
  • Control of technical debt through automated testing, integration, and deployment. Check.
  • Frequent evaluation and adaptation of the process through structured retrospectives by the people doing the work. Silence, but maybe that’s just an oversight. A practitioner could add that later without rocking the boat too much.
  • Variable overall scope, based on observed progress. UH-OH.

Read more of this article »

Finally, someone said it

Posted by Robert Merrill on February 9, 2012 under uFunctional Values, Uncategorized | Read the First Comment

In the Harvard Business Review, Scott Anthony blogs, “Don’t Confuse Passion with Competence.”

One thing I’ve noticed about business writing—at least popular, influential business writing—and business thinking, is that it tends to reflect the last compelling anecdote, in this case, Steve Jobs. He was successful, and he was passionate, so passion must be the key to success.

Mr. Anthony reminds us that passion is important, especially for the innovator, because there are going to be a lot of skeptics and setbacks. He also reminds us that passion alone isn’t enough. As the talented wags at Despair.com put it, “When you earnestly believe you can compensate for a lack of skill by redoubling your efforts, there’s no end to what you can’t do!” Read more of this article »

Pick the Integrator/Partner, then the Software

Posted by Robert Merrill on January 26, 2011 under Uncategorized | Be the First to Comment

Most firms buy (license, actually) most of their software. This is true even of software-intensive firms that can and do build software for their own use. This is common knowledge. If commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) or open source software does what you want, and the cost (direct or opportunity) of what it doesn’t do is small, it’s a much better value to buy than build.

The hard part is deciding what to buy. Firms spend a lot of time and money on software vendor selection, and software vendors and trade publications spend a lot of time and money informing (and hoping to influence) your decision. And no matter how long you take or how hard you work at it, there are always mistakes and surprises. It’s a draining, angst-ridden, process. Then we have to then choose a firm to help us get the software installed and working. Often we just go with the vendor’s recommended or local partner because now we’re feeling the pressure from above to get the software in service.

I think that’s backwards. Read more of this article »

Madison Area Business Consultants, Thursday 10/14

Posted by Robert Merrill on October 6, 2010 under Software-Intensive Businesses, Uncategorized | Be the First to Comment

Robert’s speaking on “The Software-Intensive Business—What every non-techie needs to know about computer and web programming for profit (and fun)” at the Madison Area Business Consultants monthly meeting on Thursday, October 14th, MG&E Innovation Center, 7:30 AM (in the morning).

Agile User Experience Development

Posted by Robert Merrill on May 4, 2010 under Agile Methods, Uncategorized | Be the First to Comment

I’m always on the lookout for where I need to be heading with my practice, and the idea of Agile User Experience Development is now on the short list.

I’ve been on teams with some fairly good usability/user experience people over the years, and they love the waterfall. Identify all the users, develop all the personas, and then make a complete set of wireframes and subject them to some level of user testing before doing a whole lot else. The result can be months of calendar time and up to 20% of the project budget gone, and you still don’t have any working code, and therefore the accompanying established team velocity that lets you hold the ever-present launch-date wolves at bay and keep the project from turning into a Death March. Read more of this article »

Flu Vaccine: Shortage or Overestimate?

Posted by Robert Merrill on October 26, 2009 under Uncategorized | Be the First to Comment

Once again, reality fails to conform to plan, even in the case of something seemingly similar to something done every year—the manufacture and distribution of influenza vaccine.

In “Swine Flu Vaccine Shortage: Why?” on NPR.org, we learn that late-in-the-process verification of actual yields, and a bottleneck at the packaging stage, have led to a late-in-the-lifecycle discovery that we don’t have nearly as much vaccine as we expected to have by now.

It will be interesting to watch the story unfold. Here are my predictions of what we will learn: Read more of this article »

WI AT&T President speaks on telecom trends at WIN Milwaukee

Posted by Robert Merrill on October 8, 2009 under Uncategorized | Be the First to Comment

Today’s speaker at WIN Milwaukee was Scott T. VanderSanden, president of AT&T Wisconsin, on the topic of “Telecom Innovation and Economic Growth.” He pointed out some things that I kind-of knew but hadn’t really thought about, and also told me some surprising things that I had never heard. Read more of this article »

Now running WordPress 2.8

Posted by admin on June 27, 2009 under Uncategorized | 2 Comments to Read

Pretty painless, really. Total effort, including downloading and backing up the old production files and database, was about 3 h.

One “gotcha,” though. Even though I hadn’t changed anything about my permalinks, I still had to go into admin > Settings > Permalinks and re-save my permalink definition to get them to work. Otherwise there were 404s all over the place. The right radio button was already checked; I just needed to do a Save Settings again.

Now reading

Posted by Robert Merrill on June 14, 2009 under Uncategorized | Be the First to Comment

Visible Ops Private Cloud: From Virtualization to Private Cloud in 4 Practical Steps, by Andi Mann, Kurt Milne, and Jeanne Morgan.