Thursday, December 27, 2007

Lighthouse Virtual Appliance Beta Program

We are pleased to announce our beta program for our Lighthouse Enterprise Virtual Appliance. What does that mean? It means that you can now host Lighthouse Enterprise behind your firewall. This is the same Lighthouse Enterprise that we host on line as well, with the same functionality, features, and collaboration. But because the Lighthouse Virtual Appliance sits behind your firewall, I imagine it will be faster.

If you are interested in joining our beta program or learning more, drop us a line at support (at)

Friday, December 14, 2007

New Dashboard: My Assignments

With our latest release, La Jolla 4.4, we added a new dashboard, My Assignments, that lets you see all objects currently assigned to you across all your projects. By object, I mean any requirements, defects, tasks, issues, change requests, and test cases that you need to deal with.

If you are an existing Lighthouse Standard user, it is very easy to add that dashboard to both your Account and Project settings:

1. Log in (or register) to your Lighthouse Account
2. Select Preferences
3. Select Dashboards
4. Select your project
5. Select 'Edit Dashboard'
6. Check 'My Assignments'

You can then change the positions of the dashboards as well. Because this dashboard is so useful, I recommend using it for all your projects.

NOTE: If you don't see the 'My Assignments' dashboard, then you need to either upgrade to Lighthouse Standard or talk to your Lighthouse Account Administrator about granting you access.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

New Dashboard: Project Activities

We added a new dashboard with our latest release of Lighthouse. The dashboards, 'Project Activities', are now available at both the Account and Project Level.

The 'Project Activities Dashboards' identify objects (like Requirements, Test Cases, Defects, Issues, or Change Requests), who changed them, and when they were changed. As a Product Manager, I find it very useful to log into our account and see which requirements, defects, issues and change requests are being changed.

Here is a snapshot of the activity from early this morning (like 6 AM EST). It shows that one requirement changed today, 96 'objects' changed yesterday, 376 changed between 2 and 7 days ago, etc. As I expand each one, I can get the details on what exactly changed, as well as links to the actual objects.

If you signed up for your Lighthouse Account this week, then the dashboards are automatically added to your view.

If you signed up for your Lighthouse Account before this Monday, then you have to enable your dashboard. It's simple:

1. Select Preferences > Dashboards
2. Select your dashboard
3. Select Edit Dashboard
4. Select the Recent Activities dashboard

Of course, if you don't have a Lighthouse Account (which is completely crazy), then you can sign up for your free one here!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Artifact Unveils “One-Click Traceability,” a Virtual Appliance, and Three New Lighthouse Editions

Artifact Software Inc. Newsletter
Here Comes La Jolla!
November 2007
In this issue...
Lighthouse Upgrade Details
New Features & Improvements
Recently Added & Coming Soon
We're pleased to announce that our next Lighthouse version, La Jolla, will deploy this coming Sunday at 9 PM EST. Read below for more upgrade details and feature news.
Lighthouse Upgrade Details
Lighthouse will be unavailable on Sunday, November 11 from 9 PM EST to 11 PM EST. You will not be able to log in to Lighthouse during the upgrade, so please plan accordingly.

We apologize for any inconvenience the upgrade might cause. Please check our forum for additional service updates.
New Features and Improvements
The La Jolla release takes traceability to an entirely new level with our OneClick conversion. Managing your project activities is easier than ever with our new Project Activity dashboards. Read below for details on these and other new features in our La Jolla release.
  • OneClick Conversion
Lighthouse makes traceability simple with OneClick. Take all of your ...

Check MarkRequirements and automatically create Test Cases
Check MarkChange Requests and automatically create Requirements
Check MarkChange Requests and automatically create Defects
Check MarkDefects and automatically create Change Requests
Check MarkDefects and automatically create Test Cases
Check MarkIssues and automatically create Defects
Check MarkIssues and automatically create Change Requests
Check MarkTest Cases and automatically create Requirements

Read more about this here.
  • Project Activity Dashboards
La Jolla includes two new dashboards that make project management easier than ever. These real-time dashboards highlight all changed project activities over your choice of time frames. Instantly get a snapshot view of all changes to requirements, defects, test cases and more, all in real-time.

You can now quickly and easily see everything that's changed in your project during the given time period. No more searching through emails, IM sessions or multiple tools. Lighthouse Project Activity Dashboards provide the key data you need so you can focus on leading your project.
  • Requirement Filters
With our new filters, you can quickly view requirements based on any criteria. Interested in finding requirements that have defects? Easy. Want to know which requirements are missing tests? No problem. You can filter requirements by status, resource, release, test status, or any custom field you added.
  • Super User
Finally! Add a user once, use everywhere. Create a new user, provide that user with Administrator Rights, and that user is automatically added to every project in your account. The Super User role makes it easy to provide total access to your key project managers and executives without having to manually add them to each project, one-at-a-time.
  • Custom Reports
Our Custom Reports module is going through a number of feature enhancements, making it easier than ever to create reports on any data within Lighthouse. With La Jolla, we've added a number of new, reportable fields, including 'Modified Date', 'Test Type', 'Requirements Type', and 'Timesheet Notes'. Stay tuned for even more enhancements in upcoming releases.

If you need assistance with Custom Reports, email to schedule a personalized Custom Report session and see for yourself what you can accomplish.
Recently Added & Coming Soon
In case you haven't logged into Lighthouse recently, here are some of the recent upgrades as well as a list of upcoming features. Let us know if you want more details!

  • Cozumel (released summer 2007)
    • Custom Fields: This feature lets you fully customize existing Lighthouse data elements or add your own fields. This means you can easily adapt your terminology and methodology to Lighthouse. Specifically:
      • Change the name of any data field labels
      • Add new data values to any of the existing fields
      • Create new fields
      • Modify the layout

  • Baltimore (late November 2007)
    • Lighthouse Virtual Appliance: For those companies wanting to run Lighthouse inside their corporate network, the Lighthouse VA will be released later this month.
    • My Activities Dashboard: Each user get's a personalized dashboard, giving them a simple view into all items (requirements, defects, test cases, ...) assigned to him/her.
  • Vegas (late December 2007)
    • Custom Reports Enhancements: Custom Reports is being overhauled to include many of the enhancements you've requested. Stay tuned for more information regarding this release.
    • Improved Dashboards: Significant improvements are being made to dashboard performance.

  • Rome (scheduled for early 2008)
    • Integrated Project Planning: Project Planning is being overhauled as well to include everything you need to create, manage and maintain your Project Plans directly within Lighthouse, meaning you never have to use Microsoft Project again. Of course, we'll support MS Project if you want to continue using it!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

New Features at EclipseWorld

Tomorrow we are exhibiting at EclipseWorld in Reston, VA, where we will be showcasing many features in our upcoming release. Stop by and learn how you can easily (and automatically) create test cases from requirements, convert issues to defects, and so much more.

Our next release, named La Jolla, is something we are most excited about and our beta sites have had fantastic things to say about it. Many of the enhancements come directly from our community, and we are always looking for more feedback. Share your thoughts in our blog or forum.

We'll also be talking about our partner products from Codign Software. They have some Eclipse plugins that generate JUnit tests, determine coverage and measure how testable your code is. Interesting stuff!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Community Interview: HRWorX, LLC

The following post talks about who some of our customers are and why they chose Lighthouse. Feel free to contact us if you would like an interview as well!

Client: HRWorX, LLC

[Artifact] What does your company do and what's your role?

[Rob Hankey] HRWorX develops software that collects data (usually forms driven), for both the public and private sectors. I am one of the owners of the company and handle the company operations.

[Artifact] What issues were you trying to solve when you found Lighthouse?

[Rob Hankey] HRWorX was looking for a way to develop and track requirements and associate them with a project plan and the resulting tasks. The fact that we can track client issues and development defects is a plus.

[Artifact] Why did you choose Lighthouse and how is it most helpful for you?

[Rob Hankey] We chose Lighthouse because it combines all the features of a project from the beginning to end and allows me to keep all our data in one location.

To learn more about HRWorX, please visit their website at

Monday, September 10, 2007

Artifact Releases a New Version of Lighthouse Premium

We released an upgrade to Lighthouse called La Jolla that lets you completely customize Lighthouse to suit your methodologies and needs. You can now add fields, change existing fields, provide branding, create custom reports, and much more.

This feature upgrade is part of Lighthouse Premium, which is offered as a subscription service. A free thirty (30) day trial is available so that users can evaluate the new features before committing to the subscription service. Lighthouse Premium also includes a Service Level Agreement (SLA), Premium Customer Service, Custom Reporting, Branding, Notifications and Roles, and much more. You can read the full press release here.

For example, now when a user reports a bug against Lighthouse (yes, we have a couple), we can now add customer data directly into the bug report. Take a look at the screenshot for an example - imagine what you could do with your Lighthouse Account!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Community Interview: Dassian

The following post talks about who some of our customers are and why they chose Lighthouse. Feel free to contact us if you would like an interview as well!

Client: Dassian

[Artifact] What does your company do and what's your role?

[Keith Lee] Dassian builds add-on components (software) for SAP (the largest ERP software company in the world). We concentrate in the project accounting area and cater mostly to Aerospace, Defense, Engineering and Construction companies.

[Artifact] What issues were you trying to solve when you found Lighthouse?

[Keith Lee] Dassian was looking for a tool to cover two main purposes:
  1. To allow us to communicate with each other as we are going through a development cycle with a new product (or upgrades to an existing product). Our staff is international and 100% virtual.
  2. To allow customer interaction with our staff for issues, bugs, enhancement requests and questions. We also wanted to integrate our user and technical guides when we resolved customer queries.

[Artifact] Why did you choose Lighthouse and how is it most helpful for you?

[Keith Lee] We chose Lighthouse for the following reasons:
  • Lighthouse provides a framework to interact with our customers that is 100% web-based and not dependent on software installation.
  • Lighthouse provides an easy-to-use tool to communicate internally as we are developing and resolving issues.
  • Lighthouse took NO TIME to get started. We were productive within a few hours and within a few days had created a Dassian-specific user guide that we were able to provide to our customers.
  • Lighthouse has a low cost of ownership.
  • Lighthouse allows us to grow into using more functionality for our software development cycles.
To learn more about Dassian, please visit their website at

Monday, August 27, 2007

Artifact Software Featured in

Today, Darryl Taft at eWeek published an article on three bay area (Chesapeake Bay that is) companies - Artifact, Avicode and Codign. Artifact Software is featured and the article provides a good bit of information on what we have to offer.

We are also in the process of releasing a major upgrade scheduled for this weekend. The feature emphasis will be on extending our customization capabilities to let our users change and add new fields for defects, requirements, tests, change requests, issues and much more. But, more on that in the coming days.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Why should you care about code coverage?

I wrote an article a few months ago about the differences between code, branch and path coverage, especially as it relates to unit testing. In my previous life, I wrote code and was a QA Manager for McCabe Software, which is where I became obsessed with metrics.

As part of any development methodology, coverage is something that project managers, developers, testers, and executives should pay attention too.

So, why should you care about coverage? My personal favorite reasons are:

1. Code coverage tells you what blocks of code have not been tested
2 Path coverage tells you what logic in your code has not been tested
3. Coverage forces you to ask more question
4. Coverage provides a way for everyone (managers, executives, developers) to talk at the same level of understanding
5. Coverage provide insight
6. Coverage help you set expectations
7. Coverage can act like documentation (well, really the tests behind the coverage, but you get my point)
8. Coverage help you prioritize
9. Coverage help you fix bugs and refactor faster

There are many studies available that talk about the benefits of coverage, as well as many open source and commercial products to help you get started. If you haven't tried measuring coverage yet, give it a shot with your next release. Measure something ... and just maybe you'll become as coverage-addicted as me.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Community Interview: Pembrooke

The following is a first in a series of blogs talking about who some of our customers are and why they chose Lighthouse. Feel free to contact us if you would like an interview as well!

Client: Pembrooke

[Artifact] What does your company do and what's your role?

[Jake Whitlow] Pembrooke is a leading provider of employment screening and risk management services for both DOT and non-DOT clients. Pembrooke helps companies manage their employment screening data by providing easy access to drug test results, background checks, and other related services. I lead the business analysis and project management efforts within the organization. This includes creation, maintaining, and enforcing methodology as well as functioning as the senior business analyst and project manager.

[Artifact] What issues were you trying to solve when you found Lighthouse?

[Jake Whitlow] Pembrooke had no standing requirements management methodology until about one year ago, and as a software development organization many requirements were going uncaptured, and therefore were not met. We required a tool that would assist in the capturing and management of requirements in order to shore-up this process.

[Artifact] Why did you choose Lighthouse and how is it most helpful for you?

[Jake Whitlow] We chose Lighthouse due to its ease of setup and use (no major configuration needed), it's readily available as a web-based application, and it's associated project management tools. We are currently utilizing it almost exclusively for requirements management, but have plans to begin to leverage the project management tools to a larger extent.

To learn more about Pembrooke, please visit their website at

Saturday, July 21, 2007

What is TDD?

This past week I attended a local ALPN event, and the topic was Test Driven Development (TDD). This was more technical than our usual topics, but I thought it was well presented and answered a lot of questions.

George Dinwiddie
was the presenter and did an excellent job of introducing TDD to a mostly non-technical audience. He started the discussion asking the attendees if they had heard of TDD (most everyone has) and what they thought TDD was. This is where it got interesting.

Not everyone responded, but those that did had a wide variety of answers, anywhere from TDD is another name for unit testing, to TDD is something that developers use to write code.

Here is what TDD is
  • assurance that your code does what you think it does
  • code documentation
  • code 'designer'
TDD has many benefits, but can be hard to adopt - it is a different way of thinking. The basic premise is to write a failing test case first, then write the code to make the test case pass.

It's a great way to improve code quality.

Here is why you should get your team to try it

George pointed out that his code quality has dramatically increased since adopting TDD, and said that he is now producing three times more code in the same time frame.

I've tried it myself and can certainly vouch for my productivity, but it was difficult to get started, and sometimes I don't stick to it as much as I should. As George said, it's important to start slowly, but take the time to be successful - often hard to do when you are under pressure to deliver.

I don't know - maybe I'll pick it up again!

Here is where you can get more information

The web has a lot of information on TDD. The best sites are, the wikipedia entry and of course, George's blog.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Great Post on Software Project Failures

Just came across this post and wanted to show it to you - found it true and funny - but be warned, there is a curse word or two!!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Here Comes Cozumel

Lighthouse will be unavailable on Monday, June 25th from at 10PM US Eastern to midnight EST. You will not be able to log in to Lighthouse during the upgrade, so please plan accordingly.

We apologize for any inconvenience the upgrade might cause. Please check our forum for service updates on Monday and Tuesday.

Our much anticipated Custom Fields release is finally available. This Lighthouse Premium feature lets you fully customize virtually all of the existing data elements in Lighthouse! You need Lighthouse Premium to access this option, so go ahead and sign up for a 30-day trial - it's free! You can see the details on our website.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Lighthouse is being upgraded

Lighthouse Upgrade
Lighthouse will be unavailable on Sunday, May 20th starting at 8am US Eastern, and we anticipate the service to be down for ~8 hours (to accommodate for the unknown!). You will not be able to log in to Lighthouse during the upgrade, so please plan accordingly.

We apologize for any inconvenience the upgrade might cause. Please check our forum for service updates on Sunday afternoon.
New Features and Improvements
Our new release contains many new features and improvements, including:

  • New User Interface
Our new UI improves the use of 'real estate'. No more scrolling left to right! We've added a bunch of new features (including the ability to 'hide' the menus') but rest assured, we did not remove any existing functionality.
  • Improved Performance
Our new caching algorithm will provide a significant improvement in the load time. Lighthouse modules and objects will load faster (except for the first time you log in, when the initial cache occurs - not much we can do about that one).
  • 160 Defects, 9 Change Requests completed
We fixed a lot of issues. Some you found, some we found.
  • Improved Dashboards and Custom Reports
Custom Reports has an upgraded reporting engine and layout. Significant improvements were made to dashboard performance as well.
Recently Added & Coming Soon
In case you haven't logged into Lighthouse recently, here are some of the recent upgrades as well as a list of upcoming features. Let us know if you want more details!

  • New York (released March 2007)
    • Task Management: Lighthouse Pro includes full capabilities to create, edit and assign tasks to users. Tasks can be linked to any other Lighthouse object as well. Read more ...
    • Custom Reporting: Users can now create their own reports on any Lighthouse object using a simple, AJAX-driven, drag-and-drop interface. Custom Reporting is available with Lighthouse Premium. Read more ...
    • Custom Methodology Wizard: You can now specify Agile, RUP, Waterfall or "create your own" methodologies when creating projects. The Custom Methodology Wizard is a Lighthouse Premium feature.

  • Cozumel (coming in July 2007)
    • Custom Fields (phase 1): This Lighthouse Premium feature lets users change drop down menu items found in all Lighthouse modules.
    • Integrated Task and Project Management: Build complete project plans inside Lighthouse, with support for GANTT charts. Users can also fully import, edit and export Microsoft Project plans.
    • User Interface Improvements- various additional improvements to make adding, creating and deleting objects easier.

  • Post Cozumel (later this year)
    • API/Webservices
    • IDE Integration
    • Custom Fields (phase 2)
    • Custom Dashboards
    • Custom Layouts
    • and much more!
Upcoming Public Webinars
Lighthouse Task Management
June 5, 2007 - 8 AM EST

This 30 minute webinar will provide an in-depth overview of Lighthouse Task Management. You will learn how to:
  • Create Tasks
  • Create Task Dependencies
  • Update and track Task % Completion

Custom Report Overview
June 6, 2007 - 8 AM EST

This 30 minute webinar will provide an in-depth overview of Lighthouse Custom Reports. You will learn how to:
  • Create Custom Reports
  • Add Graphic Representation
  • Learn About Traceability
Lighthouse Overview
June 7, 2007 - 8 AM EST

This 30 minute webinar will provide an in-depth overview of Lighthouse Pro vs Premium. You will learn:
  • The differences of Pro vs. Premium
  • How to set up your users
  • How to create a project
  • How to link objects together
Space is limited, so sign up today! Let us know if you need more time/date options.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

SaaS, Innovation and Software Development

Salesforce CEO Mark Benioff was interviewed recently by Information Week, during the Software 2007 conference in Santa Clara. Benioff mentioned that there's "more innovation now then in the last 10 years." That's an interesting comment, more so because innovation seems more subtle today then in the past. What I mean by that is that there were fewer innovations ten years ago, but they were much more dramatic in terms of their impact on our lives. Innovations like browsers, broadband, even Saas (which arguably wasn't new, i.e., time sharing), had a huge impact as they fundamentally changed so much in our personal and professional lives.

So, while much of the innovation then was infrastructural, today we have n times more innovations, in terms of sheer numbers, but they are more subtle and have less "bang" then those in the past. And as this blog relates to software development management, I think this is no more evident that in the software industry. For years, software development has innovated at the infrastructure level; programming languages, faster compilers, better IDEs, new methodologies like Agile (arguably a updated version of RAD). Yet, software development continues to be plagued with cost and schedule overruns, poor quality, and security flaws that seem never ending.

So, I'm wondering how folks feel about this issue. Why isn't the software community that is driving so much of today's innovation, readily embracing innovation ourselves. Why is it that we can't better manage our own process, yet keep innovating for others to better manage their processes, be it sales, marketing, finance, you name it. I'm always amazed when I see folks who call themselves "professional software developers" still relying on Word docs, spreadsheets, and e-mail to manage their dev process. Isn't it time that we began eating our own dogfood, stepped up and embraced better visibility, accountability, and predictability. I mean if we can't even do the basics, like trace tasks from requirements through test cases to defect to source code, how are we supposed to improve the perception of software in the marketplace. Isn't that what software development management is all about.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Carnegie Mellon offers Masters in Software Management

I recently came across this article on SD Times about a Masters program in Software Management offered by Carnegie Mellon West. I think this is a great concept - one that is long overdue. Carnegie's website says this program is meant to prepare software engineers and project managers for leadership positions. In other words, this program is great for technical folk who want to learn the business side of software.

Anyway, check it out - I believe the classes are held online (another major plus).

Friday, May 4, 2007

Agile Project Leadership Network (APLN) MD Chapter May Meeting

The Agile Project Leadership Network (Maryland chapter) is hosting a meeting on May 15th. The topic is aligning Agile and CMMI, and the speaker is Hillel Glazer.

This should be an interesting session - if you are in the area, try to attend!

You can find out more here.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Linking Tests to Requirements

I read an interesting article by Robin F. Goldsmith in Software Test & Performance (March 2007) titled "Let's Talk Requirements". The article is on page 38 of the March issue (you have to download the PDF).

Mr. Goldsmith makes a strong case for the need to link tests back to their requirements as a way to better educate testers. He goes on to state that the 'less the tester knows about the system's intended guts ... thhe more that testing is likely to concentrate on the graphical user interface format characteristics."

Having been in the software industry for many years myself, I could not agree more. Requirements are an absolute necessity for proper testing - not only in terms of defining the tests, but also as a means to control project cost. A tester can waste lots of time (i.e., $$) guessing at what to test. While exploratory testing has its merits, it also has its place in the testing process.

Mr. Goldsmith also mentions a trend where testers are of the opinion that the only way to ensure having the requirements they (testers) need is to let the testers define them. I don't like this trend - and I hope it is more of a fad. There are experienced people who are very capable of defining solid requirements. The problem as I see it is a lack of collaboration and communication between those defining the requirements and those responsible for testing them.

With Lighthouse Pro (which is free for everyone to use), requirements are easily defined and can be linked to test cases, defects and change requests. This functionality provides for complete visibility, history and traceability for the entire process.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Software as a Service Debate

A recent article was published in Information Week that discusses differing opinions on the best way to deliver SaaS (Software As A Service) applications. The article discusses how some SaaS companies are adopting a more hybrid solution, requiring their customers to download a small client-side application.

Having managed both traditional software and SaaS projects, I find a hybrid solution to be somewhat of a temporary fix. Most clients today either like or dislike the SaaS model. For those who dislike SaaS, the most common issues revolve around security and visibility.

The hybrid solution may solve some user issues, but the SaaS model is still in its infancy. Over time, more people will adopt this model, especially as powerhouses like Google and Microsoft begin to roll out new services.

What do you think?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Gene Rodennberry Effect (aka Star Trek and Project Management)

What does Star Trek, Software Project Management and the TSP (Team Software Process) have to do with each other? You have to read this article by David Webb to find out. It's a unique approach to describing software development methodologies in a language that most techies (and Trekkies!) can understand.

In his article, David refers to the TSP software development process. The TSP model, developed by the Software Engineering Institute, works in conjunction with PSP (Personal Software Process) and is basically a light version of the CMMI. I have witnessed this methodology used in a couple of larger projects. It seems to work well, although this is a another blog subject.

The article summary provides some great advice on lessons learned. Many of them hold true for me personally, especially points 3, 7 and 10.

So the question is, as you work on your software project, are you a Kirk, Spock, Scotty, Uhura, Bones or Chekov? If you watch Star Trek The Next Generation, well you can use those characters as well.

Fixed Price vs. ODC

Outsourcing and offshoring of software development is gaining momentum every day. Most offshore vendors are embracing what's called the ODC model, which stands for Offshore Delivery Center. In this model, clients essentially rent resources on a monthly basis, largely manage the deliverables themselves, with accountability remaining primarily on the client. The vendor is only accountable for supplying "competent" and "productive" resources. The client must measure that competency and productivity, and if unsatisfied simply requests new/better resources.

Will this model continue to be the future of offshore outsourcing? Are clients satisfied with managing the risk themselves, even when key resources are often distributed around the globe - sometimes thousands of miles away? Do companies need to enhance their own skill sets to get adept at managing global outsourced resources? Or, is another model percolating?

There are a number of new companies springing up that are essentially adopting a more general contractor model. They work/source to a number of outsourcing firms, manage the client/project, and take on accountability themselves. Their expertise is that they know exactly how to manage global software development.

Is a shift underway? Doesn't specialization usually win over the day. Might the offshore outsourced software development model evolve into a 3-party relationship, where a company engages an onshore project management firm that specializes in global software development management. That firm then applies its expertise to compile a spec that meets the needs of offshore resources. It sends it out the design, development and testing aspect of the spec for bid to a number of outsourced providers, and then manages and is accountable for a fixed price deliverable.

I think this model is likely to gain momentum. It is all about specialization. Most offshore outsourcing firms don't want to be accountable, and most customers want them to be. This clash provides a real opportunity for the emergence of a new type of firm. Maybe onshore IT Services firms will see this as an opportunity to leverage their customer relationships, while taking advantage of the commoditization of software development services by tapping into a cadre of offshore engineering suppliers. Thoughts?

Friday, February 9, 2007

Distributed, Agile Development?

I came across a link to Agile Open Northwest. While this is the first time I heard about this conference, Kent Beck of Three Rivers Institute (and creator of JUnit) posted many of the session notes on a wiki. One that is particularly interesting to me was a session on Distributed Agile Development. In this session the speaker, David Churchville, talks about using different tools and travel as a way to facilitate conversations among "Agilists" (I don't like calling them resources either).

This contradicts a couple of points on the Agile Manifesto (at least by my interpretation). Specifically, how can a global or distributed project be developed in an Agile framework? Isn't daily communication and face to face conversations a major part of being Agile? If so, then that sounds like a lot of travel to promote an Agile project, and if you are trying to conserve costs, then offshoring with frequent travel doesn't make much sense.

I will be the first to admit that I did not attend the conference so cannot possibly know all that was said. I can only reference the materials posted on the conference wiki. Did anyone go to that conference, and can you provide some more information?

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

What is SDM and why does it matter?

Managing software projects is not the easiest job. There are just so many competing influences. Trying to line up what customers and users want, with what is reasonable for developers to build, and what can be done given the schedule, resources, and budget available, is basically the intractable force meeting the immovable object. So many times during software projects, I feel myself drifting into the Talking Heads song, Once in a Lifetime, as I ask myself, “well, how did I get here.”

Pardon the music reference. I’m predisposed to borrow quotes from music and movies to help me describe an event or emotion, so I hope this starts a trend and lots of you make similar contributions. And anyway, Once in a Lifetime is a very cool, albeit a bit twisted, and hence of of my favorite Talking Heads songs. But I digress.

Over the last few years, a new curveball began being tossed at the job of managing software development projects. Enter offshoring – stage right (or east actually). Now, on top of all the complexities involved in delivering software, we need to find, manage, and coordinate resources located around the globe. And, believe me, assimilating new cultures and personalities into the already quirky software development process ain’t no piece a cake.

So, what is SDM, and why does it matter? Well, SDM is the set of processes, resources, systems, and metrics that make up the job of delivering the software that, more and more powers virtually everything on our humble planet earth.

This blog is dedicated to identifying these items, discussing them, and helping us all better deal with the challenges of building software in today’s ever flattening world. As I stood in central Bangalore recently marveling at what truly looked like the new center of the software universe, Dorothy came to mind, cause “toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”