The Art of Project Management: Expert advice from experienced project managers in Silicon Valley, and around the world
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Anita Wotiz, Author at UCSC Extension in Silicon Valley

ANITA WOTIZ, M.S. in Computer Science, B.S. in Mathematics, has more than 30 years experience in software design, development and management. She has held high level management positions in a variety of Silicon Valley companies of all sizes, most recently as vice president of engineering at an enterprise application software company. She has been a contributor to ProjectConnections.com and an industry consultant. She is currently an instructor for two UCSC Extension in Silicon Valley courses: Software Requirements Engineering & Management and Software Project Planning, Monitoring & Management. Anita is a passionate advocate for taking a practical-but-disciplined approach to software project management. awotiz@gmail.com

Practical Test Management

It sort of pains me to even have to write about #4 on my list of mandatory practices (see Tuesday’s blog): “4. Testing of every requirement (using the RM tool to track progress)” because I always think “how else would you test?”. But perhaps that’s because I’m originally from an aerospace background where we had […]

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Practical Change Management

That requirements will change is a given. How you plan for and manage that change is crucial. Think about what you want to accomplish with your change management, what you want to protect yourself from, what you want to avoid, and then put in place the practice that makes sense for you. Having a tool […]

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Practical Requirements Management

There is a set of SW practices that I consider non-negotiable, and they begin with 2 that are requirements-related: 1. Written, reviewed, approved requirements 2. A requirements baseline, implemented with a requirements management (RM) tool In my last company, getting these done in a way that was accepted by engineers and management alike did require […]

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Practical Software Practices

At my last company we took pride in the amount of work we were able to accomplish with a very small team – software of high quality and releases on tight schedules. The high quality and the responsiveness to customers’ demand for new features kept our customer support expenses low and gave us good customer […]

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Customer Service

Customer Service

I was listening to an NPR talk show segment about customer service last week.  It was mainly about being on hold, the friendliness (or unfriendliness) of the support givers, etc.  There was a quote from a customer service person who said that they were rude because the customer service expense “sucked out whatever profit they […]

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An unrepeatable success?

Back in the very old days (early 80’s), I was on a team (of 24, I think) that delivered a successful software system on time, on budget, and with every feature the customer had requested.  The schedule had been tight, 18 months from inception to use, as I recall.  This happened right in the middle […]

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Saying No

Saying “no” is hard for everyone. “If I say “no”, they will think I’m not a team player.” “If I say “no”, they will think I’m not committed to the product’s (company’s) success.” “If I say “no”, they will blame me for the other project’s failure (because I wouldn’t let my resource spend some time […]

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Some thoughts on usage scenarios

Recent posts on the importance of usage scenarios (use cases or user stories) in the development process warmed my heart.  In my experience, scenarios are perhaps the single most valuable practice in the process.  Scenarios help clarify requirements for everyone, ensuring that the ultimate user knows what they’re getting, guiding the developer, and forming the basis of […]

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A Penny for Your Thoughts?

The latest San Francisco magazine contains an article on a new platform called Mugsy and a company, Pure Verticals, that is planning to use it to give the general public (well, the web-savvy public anyway) a cut of advertising action. http://www.sanfranmag.com/story/get-your-commerce The technology allows any web site to embed product advertisements or purchasing links and […]

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An Outsourcing Progress Report

I’ve written somewhat negatively about outsourcing in the past: primarily issuing warnings about doing it without proper planning, for the wrong reasons, or with expectations set too high. Recently, someone close to me has had his own outsourcing experience.  Software that he and his group would normally develop was being done by a group of […]

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Think Like a Leader

In my examples this week, I’ve been writing about ways to convince those with the power to embrace some good software project management behavior.  I’d like to give some final advice for the week.  Think like a leader. Don’t simply complain about your project management problems.  Try to do something about them.

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Work smarter?

I just loved the latest grievance from my students (see Monday/Tuesday/Thursday posts).  When being given more work than schedule to accomplish it, or additional tasks on top of their “primary” assignment, upon replying that they were going to have to slip something, that they couldn’t get it all done on schedule, they were told by […]

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Project Interrupted

One more complaint from my students (see Monday/Tuesday posts) is: “I’m given other jobs, in addition to my coding, and asked to do them without impacting the main project I’m working on.  Not just occasionally, in a crisis, but all the time.” Some might say that this trait of trying to squeeze more out of […]

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Mourning a Venerable Oak Tree

My blogging was interrupted Sunday night by a power outage at home.  A neighbor’s huge oak tree had fallen, totally blocking the street and taking out some important power lines (as well as part of a house, slightly injuring the owner, and scaring the bejeezus out of her young daughter who had been sleeping in […]

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The Only Thing that is Constant is Change

A second complaint from my students (see yesterday’s post) is: “Management adds requirements to my project without asking me if I can still make the schedule and without taking anything away.  All the time.” Of course, what’s “bad” about this behavior is not that requirements change: that’s expected: although there must be a limit.  What’s […]

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New Class, Same Story

I’m in the middle of teaching my Software Requirements Engineering course at UCSC Extension.  On the first day of class, I always ask my students what problems they’re hoping to solve by coming to this class.  Once again I was struck by the commonality of answers from students in all kinds and sizes of companies […]

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Outsourcing software development:a bad idea? (continued)

Unintended consequences? I certainly would agree with anyone who tells me there are appropriate circumstances and projects for outsourcing, whether on or off shore. As Jacky implied in her comment to my first post, when requirements are firm: such as localization or porting of a product that already runs in one language or on one […]

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Outsourcing software development:a bad idea? (continued)

Managing outsourced work: can that project be saved? An experienced, well-trained project manager is not enough to guarantee an outsourced development success. It also takes a reliable, trustworthy, competent supplier. Even if the best project management techniques were used to choose a supplier, circumstances can change, turning a reliable supplier into an unreliable one. Some […]

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Outsourcing software development:a bad idea? (continued)

Managing outsourced work Now that you’ve made your decision, picked a supplier, and written a contract, just kick back and let them do the work and deliver a final product. After all, they won’t fail because they promised they wouldn’t. And besides, you won’t pay them any more than they bid. Not so fast.

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Outsourcing software development:a bad idea? (continued)

A few more things to do before making the outsourcing decision: 3. Create a Request for Proposal (RFP) that describes, in great detail, the software you want a supplier to create (the software requirements), anything else you want them to deliver (documentation, testing results), the testing they must do, the processes and tools you expect […]

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Outsourcing Software Development – a bad idea?

A company that has its own software development capability is driven to outsource software development in an attempt to save money or reduce costs. The company’s management may say they’re doing it because they can’t find enough qualified staff locally (or quickly), or so they won’t have to build up an additional development facility, or […]

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