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Managing in the yellow zone philadelphia spin

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  • 1. Senior Partners Guild Managing in the Yellow Zone Getting the troubled project under control (and keeping it there)Philadelphia Software ProcessImprovement NetworkNovember 20, 2003 1 ©2003, Senior Partners Guild
  • 2. Senior Partners GuildTopics What is a Yellow Zone project? What’s in a color Preventing the Yellowing of the Green When it goes Yellow anyway A Yellow Zone rescue infrastructure The Orange Zone: unsalvageable Yellow Zone projects Questions 2 ©2003, Senior Partners Guild
  • 3. Senior Partners GuildWhat is a Yellow Zone project? Green, Red, or Yellow? – Green Zone – Projects that are on schedule and on budget, with no significant risk factors – Red Zone – Projects that are in serious trouble, with a high likelihood they will fail – Yellow Zone – Projects at risk, but potentially salvageable The line from Green to Red usually passes through Yellow Up to 70% of all active projects are in the Yellow Zone 3 ©2003, Senior Partners Guild
  • 4. Senior Partners GuildWhat’s in a color? The Business Case is the reference point – Green Zone Project will probably achieve the goals and objectives of the business case – A Yellow Zone Project may fail to achieve at least one goal or objective in the business case – A Red Zone Project will probably fail to achieve the goals and objectives in the business case Green Zone projects can turn Yellow, and Yellow can turn Red or back to Green Red is likely to stay Red until Dead 4 ©2003, Senior Partners Guild
  • 5. Senior Partners Guild What defines a Green Zone project? All business requirements are traceable to the business case, and the entire business case is covered in the requirements All IT requirements are traceable to the business requirements and all business requirements are covered by the IT requirements Requirements baselined and under change control Clear lines of communication understood and followed Ownership is being accepted Milestones are being managed successfully Minimal impact from rework time and costs 5 ©2003, Senior Partners Guild
  • 6. Senior Partners Guildtop causes of yellowing… Bad idea in the first place – Overambitious – Ambiguous – Dubious measurability – Aim at the wrong business drivers Inadequate verification and validation of “upstream” deliverables, e.g., business cases, requirements, and specifications, can defeat even a GOOD idea Poor communication between users and developers Scope creep 6 ©2003, Senior Partners Guild
  • 7. Senior PartnersPreventing the Yellowing of the GuildGreen Establish a sponsor-IT partnership at the beginning Focus on business user-IT communication from the beginning Revalidate upstream deliverables against their predecessors whenever there is a change Control scope creep relentlessly – If it is not required by the business case, leave it out – If no longer required by the business case, TAKE IT OUT 7 ©2003, Senior Partners Guild
  • 8. Senior Partners GuildThe kiss of death No audit trail showing that clear lines of communication are understood and ownership is being accepted – Clear lines of communication enable information to flow efficiently and effectively – Ownership prevents confusion or denial over authority and responsibility – Both are essential to correcting problems in anything else If these are lacking, everything else will eventually spin out of control 8 ©2003, Senior Partners Guild
  • 9. Senior Partners GuildWhen it goes Yellow anyway Happens when prevention is applied too late Most frequent causes – Inadequate requirements management – Poor communications between business and development If caught early enough, may be correctable or reversible BE PREPARED FOR MERCY KILLING 9 ©2003, Senior Partners Guild
  • 10. Senior Partners GuildEarly signs of Yellowing More and more meetings accomplish little Critical path action items start to remain open Unanticipated pressures on cost and schedule drivers – Degrading relationship between developers and users – Churn among key team members – Difficulty in decisions about core requirements – Significant changes in probability and/or potential impact of exposure factors – Changes in “drivers of complexity” 10 ©2003, Senior Partners Guild
  • 11. Senior Partners Guildwhy kill a Yellow Zone project? It all comes back to the business case – How deep in the Yellow Zone? – Is acceptable payback still possible? – Is acceptable ROI still possible? – Does the original business case still make sense? If the answers don’t make a good case to continue, logic says to kill the project Still…. 11 ©2003, Senior Partners Guild
  • 12. Senior Partners GuildDoomed projects are hard to kill Every project develops its own interest groups – Sponsors with a political stake – Developers whose jobs may depend on the project continuing – Vendors with a sale to protect – Champions with an emotional stake Cancelled projects can create organization problems – Cancelled projects may have already burned a lot of money – Cancelled projects may result in cancelled jobs Few projects have an Exit Champion 12 ©2003, Senior Partners Guild
  • 13. Senior PartnersThe importance of an Exit GuildChampion The “Devil’s Advocate” for technology decisions – Resists the political and emotional arguments to continue a doomed project – Provides Management with the information that enables Decision-by-Fact 13 ©2003, Senior Partners Guild
  • 14. Senior Partners The Kill or Cure-and-Continue Guild decision Start with high-level project review – Evaluate project viability against known exposure factors – Revalidate the business case against the current project state – Give as much credence to the Exit Champion as to the Continue Champions – Decide whether to Kill or Cure-and-Continue If the decision is to Cure and Continue – Reassign personnel wherever necessary – Appoint a Team Catalyst – Create the infrastructure to permanently correct the exposure factors – Add a recurring revalidation process to ensure continuing alignment with the business case 14 ©2003, Senior Partners Guild
  • 15. Senior Partners GuildThe importance of a Team Catalyst “The problems of software are not so much technological as sociological” – Tim Lister and Tom DeMarco, “Peopleware”, 1979 A Team Catalyst can help restore cooperative working relationships and help ensure that they stay cooperative 15 ©2003, Senior Partners Guild
  • 16. Senior Partners GuildInitial anti-Yellowing actions Ensure effective meeting management Acknowledge and resolve relationship issues Take control of team churn Enforce timely resolution of critical path action items Resolve requirements issues through facilitation Strengthen contingency/continuity management components of risk management process Establish a “rapid response” process to manage impact of changes in “drivers of complexity” Use all of the above to create a Yellow Zone rescue infrastructure 16 ©2003, Senior Partners Guild
  • 17. Senior PartnersThe Yellow Zone Management Guildinfrastructure Processes People Tools 17 ©2003, Senior Partners Guild
  • 18. Senior Partners GuildProcesses Business case revalidation Requirements triage Retrospective Verification and Validation of deliverables Risk-Driven testing 18 ©2003, Senior Partners Guild
  • 19. Senior Partners GuildBusiness case revalidation May prevent exercises in futility May find legitimate, previously unrecognized justifications to continue – Additional or extended financial benefits – “Intangible” operational benefits 19 ©2003, Senior Partners Guild
  • 20. Senior Partners Guild“intangible” benefits Often higher value than hard dollar benefits Can strengthen a marginal business case Can often be translated into tangible benefits Examples: – Improved customer satisfaction – Improved employee morale – Increased user self-sufficiency Recommended reading: – “Making Technology Investments Profitable: ROI Roadmap to Better Business Cases ” by Jack M. Keen and Bonnie Digrius (Wiley, 2003) 20 ©2003, Senior Partners Guild
  • 21. Senior PartnersTypical Activities Guild Identification of Business Requirements Risk Assessment for Project and Product Risk-Driven Testing – Decomposition of Critical-risk Requirements into testable parts – Creation of Test Scenarios – Execution of Test Scenarios – Defect Reporting and Tracking – Status Reporting Intra-phase reviews and quality gates 21 ©2003, Senior Partners Guild
  • 22. Senior Partners GuildRequirements Triage Re-evaluate every requirement that has not been completed for – Criticality to the first release – “Implementability” – Impact on other requirements – Impact on cost and schedule Eliminate or defer any requirement that is not critical to the business case in the first release 22 ©2003, Senior Partners Guild
  • 23. Senior PartnersRetrospective Verification and GuildValidation Retrospective validation Business IT Business Specification Code Case Requiremen Requiremen s ts ts Forward expectations and boundaries 23 ©2003, Senior Partners Guild
  • 24. Senior Partners GuildRisk-driven Testing Includes – Decomposition of Critical Requirements into testable parts – Creation/Execution of Test Scenarios – Defect Reporting, Tracking and Status Reporting Traces back to prioritized business requirements Seeks to limit business exposure Seeks “Big Bugs” first Focuses on impact to the business case more than probability of occurrence Requires a high-efficiency method, e.g. table driven scripts 24 ©2003, Senior Partners Guild
  • 25. Senior PartnersIntra-phase reviews and quality Guildgates Re-assess business drivers and adjust business case Re-prioritize business requirements Re-prioritize IT requirements Update test strategy to reflect reprioritized IT requirements 25 ©2003, Senior Partners Guild
  • 26. Senior Partners GuildSumming up Prevention pays Communication and partnership are essential Every project creates an interest group biased toward continuing the project Revalidate the business case before adding to the investment Recover only what is worth recovering It takes courage to kill a doomed project 26 ©2003, Senior Partners Guild
  • 27. Senior Partners GuildMore information? Robert Benjamin, Partner 609 448-1963 (P) 609 977-6214 (M) 609 371-1322 (F) Inquiries@SeniorPartnersGuild.com www.SeniorPartnersGuild.com 27 ©2003, Senior Partners Guild