Methods & Tools Software Development Magazine

Software Development Magazine - Project Management, Programming, Software Testing

 

Methods & Tools - News, Facts & Comments Edition - January 2002

*** Companies ***********************************************************

* European IT Services Consolidation

The end of 2001 has seen some consolidation moves in the European IT services industry. EDS has reached an agreement with Alcatel, the French telecommunication equipment producer, to take over its IT services subsidiary, Answare SA. EDS has also been involved in the bankruptcy of Swissair, the Switzerland national airline. It has bought Atraxis, Swissair's IT subsidiary, which is also providing reservation systems to other airlines, like South African Airlines. In both cases, EDS is getting a "sure" deal because both target have customers that are fairly "locked". Revenues of EDS rose 16 percent in the third quarter of 2001.

At the same time, computer manufacturer Groupe Bull of France (do you remember the - not so long ago - time when every European Nation has its own computer company with its own operating system...) has agreed to sell Integris, its integration and consulting unit, to French software house Steria.

These moves are examples of the "bigger is better" mentality that is currently prevailing in the IT services and consulting industry. Size should allow to decrease the sales and administrative overhead, gain credibility and shuffle resources more flawlessly between projects. But is big really beautiful?

*** Numbers *************************************************************

* Small is Beautiful

A study of response times done by Media Metrix shows that sites with the higher number of unique visitors/month have the fastest response time for their home page. This due to the fact that they try to minimize the size of this page.

Web site Size (in KB) Unique visitors
AOL 36.7 69'374
Microsoft 46.8 59'852
Yahoo! 27.1 57'522
Lycos 15.5 32'384
Excite 47.5 30'535
About 55.3 23'588
CNET Networks 77.4 18'435
Amazon 86.3 18'046

Source: "Understanding and Reducing Web Delays", M. Zari, H. Saiedian, M. Naeem, Computer, December 2001

This could serve as a reminder for those who want to abuse of big graphics or flash animations on home pages. It is to be linked with the fact that the average "patience time" of the Web surfer is only 7 seconds... and then he clicks away!

*** In Other's Words ****************************************************

* Know Your Enemy

"Every body in the methodology business agrees the big problem is not Methodology A versus Methodology B, but rather any methodology versus none".

Barry Boehm cited in "New Center Will Help Software Development Grow Up", Greg Groth, IEEE Software, May/June 2001

Isn't "Code As Fast As You Can" considered a methodology?

* Nirvana

"Software engineers have been trying for years to manage requirements better. The reasons are simple. A slight change to requirements can profoundly affect cost and schedule because their definition underlies all design and implementation. We have been taught to spell out the requirements at the beginning of a project and not to change them. Experience has shown that these lessons are impractical and impossible to achieve.

For years, I have watched software engineers strive to create requirements specifications. They have tried to scope the functional, performance and interface requirements using a variety of specifications techniques and notations. Often, they developed specifications long before starting their projects because that's what the experts taught. The experts advised us to define what we wanted before we figured out how to develop our software. Involving the user or customer was considered a key to success. Firming up the requirements before starting was the industry best practice because specifications formed the foundation of our design and coding activities. We were taught to negotiate each modification with the user because of the cost and schedule impacts. After all, nobody in his or her right mind would expect something for nothing.

The only thing wrong with these techniques is that they don't work in today's environment. As most start-ups have figured out, rapid prototyping and applications methods have supplanted the waterfall life-cycle model on which these techniques were based. Architecture-driven methods have eliminated the need for these document-driven development approaches. What's most important is that we finally have the guts to admit to ourselves that we don't know precisely what the system should do when we start the project. We have discovered that requirements development is a learning than gathering process. We know we need to work with users or customers to understand their expectations and win conditions for success. [...]

Software engineers are not masters of their own destiny. For instance, they are not in charge of requirements and never have been. You are probably asking, "if you can't control the requirements, how can you manage them?" and "who specifies requirements?" More often than not, a team comprising marketing and system-engineering people defines the features and functions that form the product's crux.[...]

As the development progresses and people and situations change, so do requirements. That's natural. As the spiral model unfolds, the customer and the requirements definition team learn more about what the product should do through continuous exploration and refinement. It is therefore naive to believe that we can specify in detail what the customer wants at the beginning of the job. The best that we can do is control the continuing definition of the requirements as they change throughout the life cycle. Yes, we can and should manage a requirements baseline and track its changes. We can also trace requirements to their source and show their evolution. But managing traceability is quite different from managing requirements changes. We can only anticipate and respond to requests for change. We cannot dictate either the frequency or the desirability of changes.[...]"

Source "Requirements Management: The Search for Nirvana", Donald Reifer, IEEE Software, May/June 2000

The presentation of the changeable nature of requirements is right and the abandon of written requirements is an appealing idea. You should however not forgot that the creation of requirements have other benefits: they are used by developers to learn the user business domain and vocabulary, they are the basis of software project estimation, they allow to bring perspectives that are not evident at the code level (an object life-cycle for instance), they are a definition of what the system should do and how to test it, they are the base of customer-supplier contracts for software development, etc. If you choose alternate techniques, like rapid prototyping for instance, you should be able to find other ways to fill these functions, depending on the short and long term needs and perspectives of your application.

*** Conferences *********************************************************

Software Test Automation Conference -- March 25-28 in San Jose
http://www.sqe.com/testautomation/mt02
SQE's Software Test Automation Conference shows you how to add more automation to your testing and ensure you have a better product going out the door -- every time.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

5th Software & Internet Quality Week Europe (QWE2002) - Internet NOW!
11-15 March 2002, The Sheraton, Brussels, Belgium - www.qualityweek.com
Check out the entire program with detailed descriptions of multiple tracks, abstracts and authors on the web site:
www.soft.com/QualWeek/QWE2002/program.phtml

August 2019
June 2019
May 2019
April 2019
March 2019
February 2019
January 2019
December 2018
November 2018
October 2018
September 2018
August 2018
June 2018
May 2018
April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
November 2009
October 2009
August 2009
May 2009
April 2009
February 2009
January 2009
November 2008
October 2008
August 2008
May 2008
April 2008
February 2008
January 2008
November 2007
October 2007
August 2007
May 2007
April 2007
February 2007
January 2007
November 2006
October 2006
August 2006
May 2006
April 2006
February 2006
January 2006
November 2005
October 2005
August 2005
May 2005
April 2005
February 2005
January 2005
November 2004
October 2004
August 2004
May 2004
April 2004
February 2004
January 2004
November 2003
October 2003
August 2003
May 2003
April 2003
February 2003
January 2003
November 2002
October 2002
May 2002
April 2002
February 2002
January 2002
November 2001
October 2001
May 2001
April 2001
February 2001
January 2001
Winter 2000
Fall 2000

Software Testing
Magazine


The Scrum Expert