Tony DaSilva : Pee Cubed Eye Tee
This page last changed on Sep 09, 2008 by tonyd.
In order to develop a large, software-intensive, real-time, system from scratch, a big and relatively
lengthy process is necessarily required (regardless of what new age religious methodologists preach).
The amount of human and financial resources required to be consumed by the project during the initial
system development is commensurate with; the size and complexity of the product, and the life-criticality
of its mission.
Since successful big systems live for a long time, they undergo many changes in scope and function
throughout their lifecycles. A product's evolutionary growth is driven by changes in its surrounding
operational environment and by the emergence of new user needs/desires as the users acquire
experience through interacting with the system. New functionality is added, existing functionality is
enhanced, and specification/design/implementation errors are repaired throughout the product's lifetime.
After the initial delivery, installation, and optimization of the product's performance are completed, the
transition into the long-lived maintenance phase occurs. The cost-effectiveness and responsiveness of the
ongoing product maintenance efforts are intimately tied to the quality of the information infrastructure
and the test infrastructure that were created and installed inside of the organization during the initial
development effort. Perhaps more importantly, a company's performance throughout the duration of the
maintenance phase is highly correlated to how well these infrastructures are kept in synch with the HW
and SW as the product evolves over time. Another less obvious factor that affects performance is how
well the maintenance process itself, is improved/streamlined over time by applying lessons learned from
previous product release efforts.
The figure below depicts an ideally successful and profitable sojourn through a hypothetical product's
In this example, at the endpoint of the large initial development effort, the product is released and
its supporting test and information infrastructures are bolted in place in anticipation of a successful
future. For subsequent releases, the product and its closely coupled information and test subsystems
are carefully evolved and consciously kept in sync with each other. As a result of this disciplined
behavior, customer response times decrease and quality/profits increase as the maintenance process is
streamlined/shortened as a consequence of acting on feedback from previous release efforts. The curves
below give a qualitative feel for what the future can look like for an organization that operates holistically,
and in alignment, with an integrated people-product-process-information-test (PPPIT) mindset. Forget the
CMMI and all of its other paradoxically separate quot;Iquot; incarnations, embrace the unified PPPIT.
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In contrast to behaving in accordance with the PPPIT culture, the figure below illustrates a typical
counter-example that's indicative of ubiquitous and mediocre, organizational performance.
In this example, the product lifecycle started off on the right path (which makes this example not very
realistic). At initial delivery, the product and its installed test and information infrastructures were solid,
robust, and most importantly, useful and helpful to the downstream maintenance team. For any
one, or many convoluted and entangled, reasons, the unified PPPIT approach was soon abandoned
by the developer organization. On the path toward the second release, the lessons learned from the
first development effort were discarded, and diligent updating of the product's information and test
infrastructures was not performed. On each subsequent product release, the lack of accurate/timely/
accessible technical information and the inadequacy of the test toolset snowballed into later and later
delivery times. As indicated by the curves below, the results of these undisciplined and lax behaviors
Frustrated, unengaged, and disillusioned product maintainers,
Lengthened customer response times, and hence, displeased customers,
Decreased product quality,
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For hubristic and/or innocently ignorant organizations that don't operate in the PPPIT quot;zonequot;, it's
incredibly difficult to recognize that the product development groups are not operating as effectively as
they are capable of operating. Even worse, those companies that do come to the realization that they
need to improve execution performance in order to stay competitive and increase profits, usually don't
have a clue on how to improve the situation and lead the company on to the next level of excellence.
So, what does it take to improve the performance of a product development organization and
simultaneously enrich the lives of all of the people who work for it? It takes; systemic thinking skills,
holistic awareness, self-introspection, humility, and most importantly, real leadership magic. To propel
a perennially mediocre, non-PPPIT, company into the PPPIT zone of world class execution excellence
requires a massive change of the in-situ culture. Manifesting such a global, across-the-board cultural
change in the behavior of a large group of people is the greatest leadership challenge of all time.
Onslaughts of meetings, mandates, exhortations, sloganeering, and pontification (which, ironically, is
what this article is doing) do not work. It reminds me of the movie quot;The 10 Commandmentsquot; and the
powerful Egyptian pharoah Ramses II (played wonderfully by Yul Brynner). In the movie, Ramses was
continually walking around saying quot;So let it be written... So let it be donequot; in his quest to defeat Moses.
Suffice it to say, even though he commanded a large cache of human resources, he did not get the
results he sought.
The figure below encapsulates the unified PPPIT approach to product development and maintenance.
Since people are the most important factors that dominate performance results, they are shown
right at the top of the diagram. Of course the not-so-secret sauce that keeps all of the essential PPPIT
components integrated and aligned is true leadership. Without it, the PPPIT components become just
isolated islands into themselves.
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