The 2015 CMMI Global Congress

CMMI Global Congress

After a successful (and fun!) time at the CMMI EMEA Conference in Europe, we're now headed to Seattle for the CMMI Institute Global Congress! For DCG, this is a must-attend event - and it has been for years!

We're excited to connect with others in the CMMI community from around the world to see what's working (or not) and to share our own tips and experiences.

If you'll be at the event, please stop by our booth in the exhibition hall. We'll be talking about how to combine CMMI with Agile and lean for a competitive advantage and to reap the most value from your software.

Also, don't miss Tom Cagley's presentation on Agile risk management. Tom will discuss how to combine Agile and CMMI-based risk management techniques to increase the robustness of an Agile implementation without adding overhead and while further dampening risk.

If you can't make it out to Seattle, never fear! We are sharing Tom's presentation just for you!

Download it Now!

This presentation is available to download here.

Contact Tom!

Questions or comments? Tom's always happy to speak with someone new!

Phone: (440) 668-5717

See you in Seattle!

Written by Default at 05:00
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We're Headed to SQTM


From September 28 through October 3, DCG will be at the International Conference on Software Quality and Test Management (SQTM).

SQTM is the only conference that focuses on advancing the test management and quality management professions by providing practical methods based on best practices. The conference is dedicated to helping all levels of management to adopt methods, technologies, and practices that increase productivity and produce higher quality systems.

The ongoing theme of the conference, "Practical – Proven - Feasible," focuses on what works in testing and quality management. Whether it is a new technology, technique, method, or simply a practice, if it consistently produces good results, it is presented at this conference.

What will DCG be doing there? Presenting!

DavidDavid Herron, Vice President of Software Performance Management, will be presenting as part of the Quality Management track of the conference. His presentation, "Identifying Software Quality Best Practices," will take place on October 1 at 11:00am.

David's presentation will discuss how we should be defining software development best practices, and, more importantly, how an organization can identify their own best practices and what impact those practices have on improving performance and reducing defects.

Tom Cagley, Vice President of Consulting and Agile Practice Manager, willTom be presenting as part of the Agile track of the conference. His presentation, "Agile is from Venus and PMOs from Mars," will take place on October 1 at 2:00pm.

Tom's presentation will discuss how PMOs and Agile groups can work together cooperatively despite their inherent different roles. He will explain how it is possible to listen and integrate the different voices in the organization to improve effectiveness.

If you'll be at the conference (or if you won't be and have questions about the presentations or would like to see the slides), feel free to reach out to David and Tom to say hi or to arrange to meet!

To all those attending, we hope to see you in San Diego!

Written by Default at 05:00
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The Untouchables: “It’s Not Who’s Right, But What’s Right.”

Golden Rules for “Code-Red” Project Leadership

UntouchablesMy first job out of college was as part of an eleven-person, high performance, elite group of professionals, who had a mission to change the culture of a nationwide 16,000 member organization.  This mission was no small task, as it involved being extremely disruptive and routinely challenging the status-quo-thinking of members in order to help them realize their full potential and view reality from a different perspective.

We named our group “The Untouchables” because our motto was, “It’s not who’s right, but what’s right,” and because we all liked the premise of the movie (pictured above). We all took our job very seriously and because of this, we not only changed ourselves, but helped this organization start a cultural shift that fundamentally shattered the “old” way of doing things, starting a movement of change across an industry. 

I believe that there are times in our professional careers when we are presented with an opportunity to do what’s right and shatter the existing paradigm of status quo. This opportunity can lead to either tremendous success or spectacular failure, but I have personally found that it has yielded only success for my customers.

The Right Type of Leadership

I’m Vice President of PSC, an independent software analysis/risk analytics company. As such, I’ve witnessed numerous chances for my clients to change the status quo. Many of these moments come at the cost of spectacular failure (otherwise known as “Code-Red” events).  These are critical moments for project teams, coupled with very high emotions and an intense need for leadership. 

In these times of turmoil, the best leadership asks the right questions:

  • Where are the risks?
  • How severe are they?
  • In what order of priority should they be addressed?
  • How quickly can they be fixed? 
  • What process failed, allowing these risks to cause this event? 
  • What is the reality versus what we thought regarding our process? 
  • How do we prevent this from happening again?

This type of leadership is focused on “what’s right,” and all of these projects end up going from “red” to “green” in very little time because the tone and focus is driven by data, not opinions or emotions. 

However, there are other leaders who tend to focus on “who’s right,” asking questions like:

  • Who is responsible for these risks? 
  • What group owns this functionality? 
  • Whose responsibility was it to look at the data from the tools? 
  • Who wasn’t following our process?

Most of the projects under these types of leaders fix the most acute issues but continue in their death spiral of pointing the finger and playing the blame game, hemorrhaging their top talent and executives from the company. It’s a tragedy to watch, but an unfortunate reality if the leadership is focused on the wrong side of the equation. 

An Illustration

Here’s an example. I once worked on a big program that was highly visible in a large organization. The program was late and over budget, and the end customer at the highest level was becoming angry and threatening to penalize the company due to lack of performance. More importantly, the program had passed the point of no return, and cancelling the project would have been financially devastating for the customer.

BoxersThe customer called us in to help with suspicion that most of the problems were coming from software provided by its supply chain. It hired us to assess a narrow set of software that was particular to one supplier and, unbeknownst to us, the company did not inform the supplier of our activity. Don’t worry all of you lawyers out there, our customer had data rights to the software! Well, wouldn’t you know, the software was a target-rich piece of code, fraught with errors.

The most uncomfortable moment came when we were invited to a boardroom with the top brass of our customer and the supplier to present the results. We didn’t make it through the first 20 minutes of presenting the results of our findings when we were asked to leave (tempers were flaring between the company and the supplier). The meeting soon adjourned and the supplier’s executives stormed out of the boardroom and building. 

Here’s the great news: shortly after the meeting I received a phone call from one of the supplier’s top executives, who was in attendance at our earlier explosive meeting. A couple of hours later we were in his office, hired to help the company get its house in order and focus on “what’s right.” Less than four months later, the software we initially analyzed as the cause of most of the issues was now deemed the most reliable in the entire program, surpassing software both from other suppliers and our original customer.             

Did our customer demonstrate leadership focused on “who’s right” or “what’s right?” You know the answer. Our original customer ended up losing, as well as changing, a lot of its top talent and executives because it continued to spin after our work was completed. A changing of the guard became necessary to recover its reputation. The new batch of executives placed blame on the old and hit the reset button, only to follow the same path as their predecessors. The program survived and was eventually delivered – exceeding all schedules and busting budgets.   

The Moral of the Story    

So, it’s time for the moral of the story. Our original customer had an opportunity – that brief moment in time where it could have shifted its focus to “what’s right,” not only for its entire supply chain, but also for its own operations. But, it chose not to. I have found in volatile situations, be it personal or professional, that if I focus on what’s right, the results benefit everyone. Unfortunately, this road is less traveled because often the right choice is not the popular choice; but, in the end – and with time - others will see your actions and decisions as “untouchable” leadership.      

What kind of leader are you?

Rob Cross
PSC Vice President

Written by Rob Cross at 05:00

Software is Your Brand.


GM Recalls 300,000 Trucks Due To Software Glitch

Delta Offers Dirt Cheap Airfares Because of Software Glitch

Infiniti Q50 Recalled For Steer-By-Wire Software Glitch

Target, Neiman Marcus Not Only Victims of Cyber Attacks


What do all of the above headlines have in common? It’s not what you think. The answer is that none of the companies named are “software companies.” 

Unless you live in the middle of the desert and/or under a rock, from the moment you wake up in the morning until you go to bed at night, your life is constantly touched by products and services driven by software. Unfortunately, this reality is now just starting to catch up with the providers of these products and services. 

For example, General Motors, Chrysler and Infiniti are car makers, and when you look at their logos, you have an image of a physical product, be it a pick-up truck or luxury vehicle. You think, “Aaaah, that new car smell!” However, did you know that in the near future your car will contain more lines of code than the F-22 fighter jet? Between the Powertrain components, safety systems and infotainment systems, software is as important as tires for these vehicles to work. Automobiles are just one example; consider all of the other “things” in your life containing code … cell phones, refrigerators, airplanes, credit card machines, traffic lights, elevators, MRI machines, power stations, data centers, televisions, etc. 

What’s the “so what?”  Until corporations value their software as part of their brand and reflect that in their budgets, we as consumers will continue to be the test bed. There is ample room for interpretation on this point. As the old saying goes, “If all you have is a hammer, then everything turns into a nail.” Certainly I’m not suggesting companies developing mobile apps should scrutinize their software in the same way medical device manufacturers do. However, at a minimum, we expect companies to value their software as an essential asset and put a proper risk management process in place that fits the risk signature of the system to consumers. 

At ProServices, we are currently working with a couple of Fortune 100 organizations in the early stages of putting together a holistic software quality strategy (Hallelujah Chorus!). Their approaches have similar foundations by addressing the challenges with People, Process, Technology, Standards, Data Management and Information Transparency. Another core principle in each of the initiatives is changing their posture from reactive to proactive by pushing their strategies to the frontlines at ground zero. These organizations have recognized that software is part of their brand and deserves the same amount of brain space and budget as the other aspects of their business. 

There is no doubt in my mind that these organizations will soon be heads and tails above their competitors once they execute these strategies and realize the benefits to their bottom line.  More importantly, this strategy will secure their brands from embarrassing failures, which would erode their positioning in the market. 

Unlike popular belief, software doesn’t just happen. It really does require the same engineering principles from the likes of great contributors to the global quality movement, W. Edwards Demming, Joseph M. Juran, Dr. Kaoru Ishikawa and Genichi Taguchi. I’m not suggesting that on day one we start porting Taguchi’s methods into software, but perhaps we can utilize lessons learned from incorporating their methods into other business disciplines, taking pieces of their work, as appropriate, to help all of us respect software as an important part of the products/services we offer to consumers. 


Rob Cross
PSC, Vice President    

Written by Rob Cross at 08:00
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What is More Important: Software Quality or Productivity?

What is more important: software quality or software productivity? Is there a right answer? We think so! Read this month's Trusted Advisor report to hear what we have to say.

TA November

Our report examines both elements from a developer's perspective, customer's perspective and owner's perspective in order to reach a conclusion.

After you've read it, come back and leave a comment on this post to let us know if you agree or disagree - we'd love to hear your thoughts!

Read it now: What is More Important: Software Quality or Productivity.

Written by Default at 05:00

"It's frustrating that there are so many failed software projects when I know from personal experience that it's possible to do so much better - and we can help." 
- Mike Harris, DCG Owner

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