Category: "Open Source"

Open Source Lessons and Tools for Project and Product Management

Over the seven years that Clarise and I have been running InterActive Systems & Consulting, Inc. we've used our 6D™ methodology to manage InterASC Professional Services project engagements. This methodology came about from Clarise's 20-plus years of working in the software industry, and her training and experience as a project manager for IT implementations at HP, Oracle, CapTech, Williams and KP. And she's a PMI certified PMP. In the 1970's & '80's I worked as a program, project and line manager in Aerospace, switching in the '90's and 00's to working in IT. We brought our expertise together first at Oracle, and over the 14 years since, have been working together on refining our approaches to managing IT projects implemented by and for distributed workgroups. Colleagues pointed out that our 6D™ methodology was becoming more and more Agile in its techniques. Over the past two years, as we've been working more with open source, IT appliance and SaaS companies, we've been experiencing more and more about the community approach to managing distributed workgroups.

Learning from the Beekeeper James Dixon, CTO of Pentaho, Susan Gasson of Drexel University, the Agile Alliance and various scrum practitioners, such as Todd McGrath of supergloo, inc. and our own experiences, we had been selected to speak at the PMI NorCal 2007 Symposium at the end of September. For a variety of reasons, we didn't get to present our mindmap of our current thinking.

We generally start our presentations with the mindmap collapsed so that only the first level of branches show, and then expand along the branches in which the audience seems interested. If they don't tell us what interests them, we ask. &#59;) That's difficult to do through a blog, so we're just showing the whole thing.

As time permits, we'll be discussing our 7D™ methodology with it's Strategic, Tactical and Scrum tracks in this blog.

IASCP

Hmmm...

IASC is an association devoted to understanding and improving institutions for the management of environmental resources that are (or could be) held or used collectively. Many will refer to such resources and their systems of usage as "commons".end quotation
from "International Journal of Commons" posted in Open

who got it from Peter Suber's Open Access News posting.

Ah, but there seems to be some confusion, for if you go to the organization's web site, you'll see it's IASCP not IASC.

The International Association for the Study of Common Property (IASCP), founded in 1989, is a nonprofit Association devoted to understanding and improving institutions for the management of environmental resources that are (or could be) held or used collectively by communities in developing or developed countries.

IASCP's goals are:

  • to encourage exchange of knowledge among diverse disciplines, areas, and resource types
  • to foster mutual exchange of scholarship and practical experience
  • to promote appropriate institutional design

end quotation
from IASCP web site

Until you go further into their site, and find the first quote.

I wonder if this possible name confusion will lead to us getting a spate of requests for information about Common Property and the new International Journal of the Commons, as we keep getting requests for information on Aloe Vera farming after an newspaper in India listed the international Aloe Science Council's web site as iasc.COM rather than its true iasc.ORG?

Putting all that aside, the fortchcoming International Journal of the Commons looks to be an important contribution for governments and institutions concerned with the governance of natural resources that are [or should be] held as common property. I'm sure that those involved with open source, copyright, DRM, digital lifestyle aggregators, social networks and similar intellectual property and data-types natural resources will be able to learn from the lessons of other types of common property that will be taught in this journal.

PalmSource Open Source

PalmSource, an Access CO, LTD company, has been making several announcements in advance of their PalmSource day at LinuxWorldSF this coming Wednesday, August 16, including:

If you're at LinuxWorldSF this week, look for us [we'll be wearing black shirts with the following embroidery...

IASC InterASC TeleInterActive Embroidery
Click to view original size

We can talk about PalmSource and ALP, open source business intelligence, data warehousing and collaboration, or whatever else comes up. Maybe we'll even publish it as a podcast.

See you at LinuxWorld.

Managing Distributed Workgroups

Since the earliest days of InterActive Systems & Consulting, Inc. we've been concerned with how to support and manage distributed workgroups, whether comprised completely of employees, or including "outsourced" team members, whether all members are "distributed" locally or globally. This was a subject of conversation at our first joint Board of Directors and Advisors meeting in December of 2000. [We celebrated six years as a separate corporate entity on June 16th.] The discussion ranged [and still considers] topics as diverse as tracking time spent and resource usage to making all members feel like a part of the team. Todd McGrath was a member of our Board of Advisors, and from that IASC meeting, the idea for ServiceCycle was germinated in Todd's fertile brain. We had some input into the early direction of ServiceCycle, and, I believe, some influence on Todd's decision earlier this year to open source the code for ServiceCycle. Recently, Todd wrote:

Reasons for my questions and thoughts relate to an application I've been developing over the years - a collaboration platform called ServiceCycle. Frankly speaking, a thing that has always bothered me about ServiceCycle is that is not focused on a particular industry or niche. The industries that use ServiceCycle are all over the board."

"Perhaps ServiceCycle could fill a void in outsource management? It could be customized to provide SLA management/enforcement, RFP distribution and monitoring, service contract templates, preferred vendor list organization and ratings, monitor and measurement of milestones, issue tracking, key dates, communication archiving and of course, tracking and reporting.end quotation
- Todd McGrath in Flat World Software Development » Outsource Management Software

Since it's inception, ServiceCycle has been a integral part of our TeleInterActive Lifestyle™ toolkit, along with open source, web based software for project tracking and certain MMORPGs for team building.

ServiceCycle can most definitely fill a the void in outsource management. In addition to its current collaboration capabilities, it could also help improve/archive communications, using XMPP, OPML and SIP. [Todd - remember that one joint proposal we did to a Sheriff of the realm?] Some of Todd's other ideas could be implemented by incorporating workflow engines and reporting or decision support tools. One challenge with globally distributed workgroups is the problem of asynchronous communications - different time zones. Problems can seem less urgent when they arose while you were sleeping. If ServiceCylce can help bring immediacy to these types of communications, it would plug a gaping hole in outsourced projects.

Open Source and Offshore Development

Recently, my friend Todd McGrath has written about the symbiotic relationship of open source software and offshore development. He builds a case for the relationship between building trust in developers you might never meet (or mitigating risk in an offsourced project) with the use of open source software in the project.

In combining Open Source software and offshore development, high quality, cost effective software is more easily obtainable... Open Source provides a foundation of trust and confidence when using and/or providing offshore software development services.

In this article, my definition of Open Source is intended to mean complete products, tools, libraries, etc. with a vibrant community.

When implementing an outsource development strategy, choose developers that will use Open Source software in the overall solution. Using Open Source in the solution provides a shorter path to confidence and trust in outsourced software developers. Put another way, open source plays a positive part in the risk management of the decision to outsource. By choosing offshore software development partners that deliver based on community established Open Source with appropriate license for your needs, quality and the most competitive cost can be obtained.end quotation
-- Todd McGrath in Flat World Software Development » Open Source and Offshore Development

Those excerpts give his premise and conclusion, but you must read the whole article to see how he builds his case.

Todd focuses on outsourced, especially offshore, software development. There are, however, other things being offshored by businesses today. Business processes such as accounting and human resources, IT operations & maintenance, telecommunications management, design and development projects, and manufacturing are only a few examples. And there are many reasons for businesses to outsource. Some of these are reducing cost, enhancing skills, suplementing personnel, and taking advantage of economies of scale.

Having a common architecture or framework can be important in mitigating risk. But the assumption here is that if the first outsourced project fails, another team can pick it up because open source software provides common themes throughout software development, and you can find other developers with familiarity with the open source software that forms the basis of the project. I don't believe that this constitutes bulding trust in the original team, or even in the offsourcing tactic. So, I disagree with the premise that bulding trust is equivalent to mitigating risk. I would agree that using open source software in a software development project can help mitigate risk.

More importantly to building trust and to mitigating risk is assuring that the culture of the outsourcing partner matches your own culture. Can both partners truly communicate? Not just speak the same language, or a dialect of the same language, but truly understand each other's written and spoken dialogues, specifications, emails, messages and meeting notes. When offsourcing, societal, cultural and language barriers will complicate matters, and you may not have much control over these factors. [Excepting some artificial and unsustainable rules, such as a USA firm should only choose offsourcing partners in the Philippines because of the good blend of cultural match and economics.] You do have control over corporate culture aspects that affect the project, process, program or people being outsourced. For the type of software development projects of which Todd is speaking, you might want to consider:

  • decision making
  • documentation
  • specification
  • in-code comments
  • project management
  • QA
  • configuration control
  • version & release management
  • testing
  • bug fixes, enhancements and problem escalation/resolution
  • meeting protocol
  • team structure/team building
  • interfaces across and interactions among business untis/users, operations personnel and developers

I think these types of factors will be more important in building trust across distributed workgroups than the software architecture to be used.

Having said that, I do agree that there is a symbiotic relationship between offsourcing and open source development methodologies, in that both use the priciples of distributed workgroups, both are enhanced by the TeleInterActive Lifestyle™ and the two movements have feed off each other to a certain extent.

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This Web Log (Blog) is intended as a discussion of the business processes, life choices, management challenges, wireless networks, mobile devices, collaboration software, social networks and technical issues facing organizations and individuals: distributed workgroups, digital lifestyle aggregation, telecommuting, road warrior and all ways in which you can live the TeleInterActive Lifestyle™. It is a service of InterActive Systems & Consulting, Inc.

InterActive Systems & Consulting, Inc. (IASC) performs research in the areas of data analytics, collaboration and remote access.

InterASC Professional Services, a service mark of IASC, provides strategic consulting and project management for data warehousing, business intelligence and collaboration projects using proprietary and open source solutions. We formulate vendor-independent strategies and solutions for information management in an increasingly complex and distributed business environment, allowing secure data analysis and collaboration that provides enterprise information in the most valuable form to the right person, whenever and wherever needed.

TeleInterActive Networks, a service mark of IASC, hosts open source applications for small and medium enterprises including CMS, blogs, wikis, database applications, portals and mobile access. We provide the tools for SME to put their customer at the center of their business, and leverage information management in a way previously reserved for larger organizations.

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