Archive for April, 2011


SEPG Europe Conference

April 22, 2011

Coming soon, the premier process improvement conference in Europe, being held in Dublin from June 7th to 9th. I will be there, presenting “FP2: Forget Process, Focus on People” and participating in the official launch of “Orchestrated Knowledge”, the new co-operative focused on ethical consulting. More details can be found on the SEI website at
The event is being held at the Burlington hotel, which is situated on Upper LEESON street. Coincidence? I think not. Recognition, more likely!


Sampling: Does It Work?

April 22, 2011

When using the new version of SCAMPI appraisals (v.1.3), there is a new sampling methodology that aims to ensure the selected projects being analysed are actually representative of the organization. Previously, the appraiser needed to select some three (or four) projects that were considered as representative of what the organization did. By demonstrating that these projects did a good job, as they were representative of the whole, they naturally showed that the whole organization always did a good job. Of course, companies were eager to present only what they did best, there are many techniques that can be used to hide the projects you don’t want to see.
With the new system, one needs to check all the factors that may influence the way work-practices (processes) may be implemented in different manners, consider the various possible combinations, and select a proportional sample of projects from each possible combination. The number of projects to select is influenced by the total number of projects in the organization vs the number of projects included in the subset.
Let’s consider a commercial software development organization, not a big multinational, but a running concern, which develops and sells products to a variety of customers. They have a number of different projects running, they are all for different customers, related to different types of products. Some of them are implemented according to Agile principles, others are more “waterfall” and a few are a home-made combination of the two. Some projects have heavy involvement by the customer, who can control the requirements, do the project management or even run the testing; others are completely hands-off, depending on the customer. Some of the developments are quite large, others are quite small. This is just a software development company, they work to customer requirements.
The MDD requires that the following factors be considered: location, customer, size, organizational structure and type of work, as well as any other factors that may influence the manner in which the processes are being implemented. In my (theoretical) example above, we have a different customer for each project, the organizational structure depends on the level of interference/control allowed to the customer, the sizes of the projects vary widely, they use different life-cycles and a variety of languages. Very rapidly, when doing the calculations for the sampling, we can discover that every single project is potentially in a subset that is peculiar to that one project, meaning that in order to get a true representative sample of the projects in the organization, there is an implicit need to review every project in detail! At this point in time, the natural tendency will be to determine that maybe this factor does not really have that much influence, perhaps the other is not really a variation, and the number of projects to consider is creatively rationalized down to something realistic, honestly and in good faith.
Of course, a series of small projects, run by the same team, using the same processes do not implement them in different manners, every time a parameter changes in the environment, so the appraiser is required to analyse which of the parameters have an impact on how the processes are implemented. How do you determine this? You can discuss it with the appraisal sponsor and participants, who then have the opportunity of making the claims they want to make, once again, focusing attention on the best projects and hiding the others. Otherwise, the appraiser will have to perform a detailed analysis of the differences in implementation, and that would be done through a mini appraisal of all the projects in order to identify what are the factors that really matter – so one would need to perform a full appraisal of all projects in order to determine how to select the factors to sample the projects to review. Not an economically viable solution.
Once the subsets of projects have been identified, there is a requirement to review one project from A to Z, and to collect “artefacts or affirmations” from another project within the same group, for “at least” one process area. So a second project can be reviewed and approved based only on affirmations in a single area – and this guarantees that everything else is done correctly.
Shame, when I first heard about the sampling factors, I thought this was a good idea; unfortunately, it seems that a choice needs to be made in implementation: go to a bureaucratic, extensive and expensive appraisal of everything, or select to play the numbers with as much ease and facility as previously.
The consequence of this: lead appraisers (and organizations) that believe in quality and want to do a good job, will continue to provide reliable results; those who want to give away (or receive) the highest maturity level possible, will continue to falsify data.


Orchestrated Knowledge

April 3, 2011

It seems that the recession is (finally) receding into the past and businesses are trying to restart being active – that is good news, indeed. During the recession, when business was at its slowest, organizations should have made the best to plan for the recovery and implement strong training and improvement activities. Most were concerned about the loss of income, so don’t worry, you were not the only one that decided to cut costs and wait and not invest in the recovery…
Possibly one of the reasons that so many organizations hesitate is because of the risk related to working with consultants – you know the story: a consultant is someone who takes your watch and gives you the time. There is truth in that statement, however, I am glad to announce the creation of “Orchestrated Knowledge” (or OK for short), a cooperative of consultants, advisors, trainers who are committed to ethical consulting – guaranteed. Orchestrated Knowledge, which held its first event last month in London, represents a new approach to providing business and public sector organisations with the accumulated wisdom and insight to achieve real and sustainable improvement.
OK partners are committed to the rapid and permanent transfer of knowledge and capability with a focus on maximizing the value delivered to your organisational stakeholders.

OK founding partners include:

    Tom GILB

Tom Gilb is a systems engineer who invented the term “software metrics”. He has long been a vigorous and articulate campaigner for better engineering rigour in software. He is the author of many books on the subject.
He works in partnership with his son Kai Gilb, helping multinational clients improve their organizations and methods by using “evolutionary systems delivery” (Evo). He has guest lectured at universities all over UK, Europe, China, India, USA, Korea – and has been a keynote speaker at dozens of technical conferences internationally. He is a member of INCOSE and is active in the Norwegian chapter, NORSEC, which presented him with an award in 2003.
From a review of “Competitive Engineering” by Tom Gilb: “….addresses difficult software engineering problems that other methodologies don’t even recognize. This is important, groundbreaking stuff.”

    Keith JACKSON

Keith Jackson is a specialist in using business excellence and performance improvement to sustain competitive advantage. He is an experienced conference speaker, teacher, coach to Executives and Project Leaders, and workshop leader. He was one of the drivers behind the European Software Process Improvement Foundation, which ran the European SEPG conference for many years into the early part of the 21st century.
Keith has managed a number of performance improvement and cultural change programmes for multinational organizations, European Government Departments and UK Local Government. His ability to put together a world-class team and co-ordinate their efforts to delight the customer is second to none.
Keith is currently Managing Director of TBL Transformation Business Leadership.
Customer endorsement, Keith Jackson and TBL: “The support and leadership of TBL had provided a vision, goals, measurable targets and, more importantly, the ability and confidence to ensure these could be delivered.”

    Peter LEESON

Peter Leeson is a visiting scientist with the SEI and a SCAMPI Lead Appraiser. He is authorized for both CMMI-DEV (for development) and CMMI-ACQ (CMMI for acquisition). He is also trained in other models and approaches, such as ISO/IEC 15504 (SPICe) and Bootstrap.
Peter complements a quality-engineering approach with a comprehensive knowledge of products such as Prince2, CMMI and ISO standards (9000-2000, 15504) as well as approaches such as Six-Sigma, NLP or mind maps.
With some thirty years experience in the software development industry Peter has a truly international approach to successful improvement effort, working with management and staff to determine the most effective approach for the culture of the business and the society.
Customer endorsement: “Peter Leeson is a very engaging, professional and thought-provoking workshop facilitator and assessor. He has successfully supported numerous activities in our organisation which required him to deal with participants at various levels of responsibility including our most senior leaders.Peter has the personality and experience to approach and deliver,often uncomfortable and challenging subject matter in a non-threatening but focussed manner. Peter is an asset to any workshop activity”


Bob Marshall is the originator of the term “Rightshifting” to describe the process of transforming organisations from the wasteful and ineffective left-hand end of the performance scale to join the high performers on the right hand side.
Bob has arrived at the Rightshifting message based on over 30 years experience in software development and IT. He is recognised as a leading UK expert in Agile methods, and has an extensive background in software quality management and quality assurance. He is one of this country’s leading practitioners in the fields of software development, business process engineering (BPR) & operational effectiveness.
Bob’s experience gives him a rare combination of commercial awareness, management perspective and cutting-edge technical knowledge across numerous disciplines. He is the author of Javelin™ – the only explicitly risk-based Agile project management method. He is currently developing the Flowchain method for chaordic organisations to the right of the Rightshifting curve.

    Grant RULE

Grant partners businesses and public services to deliver better value to their stakeholders by implementing lean, more agile practices. He is a recognised authority on Lean workflow design, software metrics practice and measurement-enabled process improvement. He is a Fellow of the RSA and has contributed to numerous national and international professional bodies concerned with software development standards. He is a member of the Intellect Government Group, an NCC ITDA Assessor and a member of the BCS PROMS-G committee.
Grant is familiar with all the exemplars of success in software-intensive product and service delivery. He pioneered many of the principles adopted by the market-leaders and has huge experience of successful software process improvement. He used iterative delivery methods before the term ‘agile’ was coined. He is a contributor to the Common Software Metrics Consortium, a world-wide group of software metrics experts formed to develop a new method of measuring software output.
Grant works tirelessly to increase awareness of the huge potential Lean systems thinking offers for sustainable business success, better public services, increased workplace effectiveness and individual job satisfaction.
Customer endorsement: “Grant’s knowledge of software measurement and processes is encyclopaedic, and he is always willing to share this with others to drive greater knowledge and control. Grant’s output is prodigeous and fascinating. He has long ago reach guru status.”

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