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Project Management Q&A






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Project Management




Effective project management, which is supported by product management, can add positively to the bottom line. Ineffective project management almost always adds negatively to the bottom line. I don't personally know of a situation where ineffective project management has been a positive add to the bottom line.

What is software project management? Software project management is an organized undertaking to administer a software effort from inception to product shipment to the end customer(s). In some development shops, this management continues with the maintenance of the product once the product is in the field.

We, at Total Application Works, can provide the following project management services. We can consult with clients on:

  1. Project management issues.
  2. How to effectively manage a project.
  3. How to work/manage based on a specification.


We can bring to bear our 33 years of experience in software development to affect your bottom line in a positive manner.

We perform software project management under an hourly-based billing contract.

Case studies:

  • Case 1:What is the cost to ship a fix for a severe product problem?
  • Case 2: What happened to a product delivery when the development team failed to follow the processes they put in place?
  • Case 3: Given the choice between making a delivery date and shipping a poor quality product, or slipping the delivery date to ship a quality product, what would you do?
  • Case 4: What happened to a product that had quality problems on previous versions and a plan was not put place to fix those problems?
  • Case 5: What happened to a product that was developed using a rigorous development process, which included a system for early error detection?







Case 1

What is the cost to ship a fix for a severe product problem? The cost can be in dollars and/or in a tarnished customer image.

Several years ago, a large software development company evaluated their profit margin on delivered software. It discovered that it was spending 20 to 25 thousand dollars to find and fix a customer reported problem. This large company discovered that they were losing most of their profits due to poor software quality.

Today, I become suspicious when I open a package and see two CDs: one CD has the product on it and the other CD contains the service pack. The product in question abended when I tried to do some complex programming so I visited the company's site and found that I was three service packs behind.

Poor quality is the cost to find and fix the problem and a cost to the customer in down time or work around time. This previously mentioned large software company also developed software for in-house use. They lost customers because of billing errors and lost orders. In each case, the cause was poor quality in the software that it developed. What is the cost of bad customer public relations?

In an attempt to improve its profit margins and win back the customers it had lost, this company instituted a:

This large company improved the quality of the software it delivered and began winning back lost customers. This improvement is a definite positive add to the bottom line.

Case 2

What happened to a product delivery when the development team failed to follow the processes they put in place? In this case upper management realized that they would not stay profitable if they continued to ship poor quality products, so they brought in a consultant. The consultant recommended some of the following changes.


When the development team missed their first couple of development dates, the management team reverted back to their old methodology. In the end, a poor quality product was shipped.

In the heat of a tough development cycle, it takes a strong and committed management team to stay the course with the newly adopted processes. Usually, the uncommitted revert to their comfort zone. In this case, they reverted to shipping poor quality products.

Case 3

Given the choice between making a delivery date and shipping a poor quality product, or slipping the delivery date to ship a quality product, what would you do? On the automobile assembly line, each worker has the authority to stop the line if there is a problem.

In this case, the senior manager had a promotion riding on making the delivery date. This manager's concern was that if the delivery date was missed, the promotion would be lost. So the product manager lied to upper management regarding the quality problems that were encountered. Within two weeks of product ship to customers, customers were reporting severe quality problems and product abends.

Case 4

What happened to a product that had quality problems on previous versions and a plan was not put in place to fix those problems? This is the case of garbage in, garbage out. This is like building a sand castle at the seashore and expecting it to hold up to the oncoming waves. A software product without a sound architecture is like a house with a faulty foundation; the owner is constantly fixing the software or house.

In this case, the product management had the mentality of shipping products and fixing product errors after the product was shipped. Quality Assurance performed a product review and made several excellent recommendations. These recommendations were ignored because the product development team said they didn't have time in their schedule to fix the problems outlined by Quality Assurance. Customers for this product became disenchanted because of poor quality and began migrating to different products and manufacturers.

This is another case of poor quality adding negatively to the bottom line. If customers are not buying the product then the revenue stream is diminishing. The development team learned a hard lesson, 'A poor quality product must be fixed.' This product stopped shipping and the development team was disbanded.

Case 5

What happened to a product that was developed using a rigorous development process, which included a system for early error detection?

In this case, no design or architecture work was started until the specifications were approved. Once the specifications were approved, the following steps were followed.

  1. A high-level design, based on the approved specifications, was developed. The high-level design was reviewed (the customer was part of the review team) and approved.
  2. A low-level design, based on the approved high-level design, was developed. The low-level design was reviewed (the customer was part of the review team) and approved.
  3. A change control process was adopted. No changes were made to the approved low-level design until the change control team approved it. One of the causes of error injection to the code is through unapproved and unknown code changes. Approved changes force the low-level design, code, unit test cases and possibly the function and system test cases to be updated
  4. Code and unit test cases were developed, based on the approved low-level design. The code and unit test cases underwent rigorous peer review.
  5. Function test cases were developed based on the approved low-level design and they underwent rigorous peer review.
  6. System test cases were developed based on the approved low level design and they underwent rigorous peer review.
  7. A defect tracking system was put in place.
  8. Weekly status meetings, at the function level, were conducted to track progress and resolve issues.

The management team was totally bought into the rigorous development process, after undergoing training for managers. This schedule was front end loaded, where the focus was on a sound design, error detection, and the removal of these errors. By sticking with the adopted processes, this development team delivered the product ahead of schedule and under the predicted costs. The management and development teams all agreed that this was a successful effort and the best development cycle they had ever worked.




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