Archive for the ‘by Karen’ Category

3 INCOSE takeaways on requirements

Friday, July 1st, 2011

Last week’s INCOSE International Symposium was refreshing. The sessions and events offered great opportunities to network with other industry professionals interested in systems and not just software, and I joined some useful tutorials in systems engineering. I’m still distilling my thoughts on “systems engineering vs. software engineering”, and will post later on that topic.

Participating on the “Is Requirements Engineering Really Necessary?panel with Brian Berenbach, Mark Sampson, and James Hulgan was great fun. We don’t have the official session survey ratings yet, but we drew an audience of several hundred who never ran out of questions for us. My top 3 takeaways from our discussions are:

  1. Emphasize activities, not titles. The more stakeholders and team members who understand and can use Requirements Engineering methods effectively, the more the system and business will benefit. RE advocates have to remember, though, that most systems engineers aren’t, and don’t want to become, “requirements engineers” or even “requirements analysts”. They are committed “control systems engineers”, “electronics engineers”, “software system engineers”, or “power systems engineers” who are passionate about their own domains of expertise. To be most useful, training in requirements elicitation and analysis should be aligned to their domain worlds, instead of expecting systems engineers to align with the world of RE.
  2. System requirements need systems thinking, too. How formally requirements are managed should depend on the risks and consequences – not all requirements are “created equal”. Likewise, how requirements are documented should depend on who they are being documented for – the audience who needs to understand and use them. With today’s increasingly complicated systems and escalating time-to-market pressures, the same old mountain-of-text-documents approaches don’t scale; we need to adapt, and start ‘system-engineering’ how we handle our requirements to fit the needs of the business and the system.
  3. No silver RE bullets. Requirements engineering isn’t a panacea that can solve any and all problems in a system. Requirements aren’t mushrooms to be “gathered” for analysis. They’re more like truffles that need to be carefully searched-for and unearthed. RE techniques can help you find the truffles and ensure that key needs aren’t overlooked. And RE can help you analyze and manage needs to ensure that requirements are well-defined, prioritized, verifiable, and necessary. RE can’t guarantee that you’ll never miss a requirement, include extraneous features, or misinterpret an important aspect. Using a mixture of senior and junior staff can help: experienced people are guided by the pain that came from overlooking key requirements or quality attributes in the past, and junior people can help the team avoid “expertosis”, by questioning assumptions and asking “why?”.

(My “point of view” slide can be downloaded from the Agile Teams website, as well as my 1-page position statement.)

Practical Software Development

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

I had a great time participating in the “Practical Software Development” discussion at the Eastern NC IEEE Computer Society chapter meeting on Feb. 16 with Bob Galen and Andy Hunt. Since I was one of the panelists, my notes are somewhat incomplete, but I’ve summarized some of the key questions from the audience and moderator John Baker, as well as the panelists’ opening  point-of-view statements.

An unexpected highlight of the evening was our discovery that Dr. Frederick P. Brooks (yes, THAT Dr. Brooks, of Mythical Man-Month fame!) had honored us by joining the audience. His comment to me afterward on why he came: “You always need to keep learning.”

(Added Feb. 28: event photos, including one with Dr. Brooks, are now included at the end of the post.)


upcoming events

Friday, February 5th, 2010

2010 has been super busy so far, and is off to a great start. In addition to a new IEEE Computer Society meeting panel invitation, and our previously accepted SEPG 2010 presentation on requirements engineering metrics, the Agile Teams collaborators now have a half-day tutorial accepted at SATURN. If you’re also attending SEPG or SATURN this year, please look for us and say hi!

recent publications

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

Our HAoSE 2009 paper and poster on “Measuring Collaboration in Globally Distributed Software Development Teams” was very well received. We also have had two new papers recently accepted for presentation:

Our Agile Teams publications and conferences pages are now updated to include these papers, as well as our 2009Q2 ABB Review journal article, “Metamorphosis“. (PDF copies of our published papers which are not linked to this site are available on request.)


Monday, July 20th, 2009

Aldo, Andy, and I have just co-authored an article entitled “Metamorphosis: Adapting rapidly to change using the IDEAL improvement model” for the Q2 2009 issue of the ABB Review journal. Here’s the abstract:

Corporations must adapt rapidly to changing markets and adopt new technologies to remain competitive. Such adaptations are particularly important in a rapidly changing economic climate. Flexibility and a willingness to change are important qualities that must be fostered and encouraged, at all levels, if businesses are to respond effectively to shifts in product demands or to altered customer requirements. To encourage a positive environment for such change, the process for change must be carefully planned, well managed, properly justified and applied with sensitivity. ABB uses the IDEALSM 1.0 model as a framework to guide improvement processes so that effective changes are deployed efficiently.

The article discusses use of IDEAL for both process improvements, such as within the CMMI framework, and technology improvements guided by architecture evaluation methods such as AHEAD. We hope you enjoy it – comments welcome here, or on twitter @agile_teams!

moving AHEAD

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

Our recent work with developing and applying AHEAD, which blends requirements engineering, AHP, architecture analysis, and prototyping for software technology evaluations, has been well received. Since the QFD Symposium, we’ve had papers on different aspects of the AHEAD method accepted by IASTED, SEPG, SAC, and SATURN! These AHEAD papers will be made available, subject to the conference publishers’ permission policies, after the conferences.

We also set a new personal-best record for accepted papers at the CMMI Technology Conference: seven! The papers include lessons learned from geographically distributed appraisals and innovative approaches to economic valuation of SPI activities. PDFs are now available online at the NDIA site and via our 2008 CMMI Technology conference page.

(Conferences page has been updated – Publications page, by date, will follow soonis now up to date too.)

We’ve also recently vetted our 2009 RE (requirements engineering) research roadmap with management, and are diving into some exciting new areas of work – stay tuned 🙂 Also mulling whether to submit papers for RE2009 and/or Agile 2009

getting AHEAD

Thursday, October 30th, 2008

In conjunction with our colleague Elizabeth, Aldo, Qingfeng, and I have recently completed several new papers on the AHEAD method which emerged from a recent software technology evaluation project. AHEAD stands for Attribute Hierarchy-based Evaluation of Architectural Designs; the method blends the SEI’s Attribute-Driven Design (ADD) with the Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) to deliver a nice balance between efficiency and accuracy (agility and discipline) in performing objective software technology evaluations. Our research results are just now ‘hitting the press’ … the first paper was well received at the QFD Symposium last week, and two others have been accepted at conferences and will be presented in March. Please check out AHEAD – we’d love to hear your comments and suggestions for improving and applying it!

congratulations, Aldo!

Sunday, March 23rd, 2008

I’m so pleased to be able to announce that Aldo Dagnino has been selected as the 2008 winner of the SEI Outstanding Contributor Award, which was presented to him at SEPG 2008 in Tampa, Florida last week. Aldo has consistently published and presented on business-driven process improvement and blending the CMMI with agile methods. Most recently, a paper on which he was the lead author comparing Scrum and the project management process areas of CMMI won ‘Best Paper’ in its track (for Lean, Six Sigma, and Agile) at the CMMI Users Group Conference in November 2007. Kudos to Aldo on this well-deserved recognition!