Monthly Archives: June 2010

The 360 degree project manager

One of the challenges of these conferences is the number of decisions and choices you have to make. Some of the speakers are very good and some are incredibly boring, some are aimed at process improvement specialists, some at project managers, some at engineers; some talks are very basic and elementary, others are very advanced and technical – and then, of course, there is the option of going to visit the beautiful town of Porto at your employer’s expense…

I was very pleased to have decided to go listen to Nico Marien and Patrick Steyaert of TeamProsource. The talk discussed some of the aspects that need to be considered at the start of a project and worked through during the project lifecycle. Yes, every project is different – and that is precisely the point they are making. The talk was useful to project managers as well as process improvement specialists who are seeking to assist, control or manage. The examples that were used were varied and realistic. The approach they recommend is to weigh out the business (un)certainty and the user involvement, then managing this through a separation of discovery (understanding what I should be delivering) and delivery (building and shipping that to which I committed).

A good talk, mixing theoretical and practical aspects…

Peter Leeson (Q:PIT Ltd)


World Cup Face-Off: The Battle of Iberia

Tuesday also marks an important event for the citizens of Portugal: the World Cup round 16 versus Spain. These two teams who have never before met in a World Cup game will battle for a spot in the quarter-finals in a match against the winner of Paraguay-Japan. 

Odds suggest that Spain is the favorite to beat underdog Portugal. Which of these Iberian neighbors will you be cheering for? Our eyes are on Cristiano Ronaldo and the rest of our host country’s team. We wish Spain the best of luck, but since we’re calling Porto home this week, we have to say: go Portugal!

SEPG Europe 2010 Welcome Reception

Greetings, SEPG Europe 2010 delegates! To those of you who attended the conference on Monday, we hope the opening day further sparked your excitement for the next three days. For our first-time delegates who attended the dedicated orientation session, we hope that you heed the advice to introduce yourself to others, ask questions, have fun, and enjoy Porto.

To those of you who are joining us today, we warmly welcome you to SEPG Europe 2010. In addition to soaking up the latest in software process improvement, we hope you will have the chance to explore our gorgeous host city. 

On Tuesday evening, after a full day of technical sessions is through, you are invited to enjoy a Welcome Reception. Held in the air-conditioned courtyard tent, the Welcome Reception offers a more informal, relaxed way to catch up with acquaintances and make new connections over light hors d’oeuvres, beer, and wine.

If you are registered for SEPG Europe on Tuesday, Welcome Reception attendance is included. Don’t forget your delegate badge!

First day of a different conference

As the only person to have attended every single SEPG conference in Europe, I feel that I should be allowed to comment on some of the differences between this conference and the others, based on my first hour of being here.

First, it is nice to be in Portugal! Traditionally, the process improvement effort in Europe has been centred in the Germanic and Scandinavian countries, while the Mediterranean countries have been left aside. Hopefully, we can continue this trend in the coming years and get Italy, Greece and the others on board rapidly.

This is also the first time (in Europe) that the conference is being held in a university rather than in a hotel. It means more travelling, obviously as everyone is lodging in various hotels across town and a few events are being organized away from the main conference (partner meeting at the Sheraton down-town, gala dinner on a boat…). It also means  different atmosphere. We have a lot of young people walking about in T-shirts and jeans, while in the expensive hotels, we had more sedate, well-dressed people – personally, I find this a lot more fun.

The talks are being given in university auditoriums (auditoria?) which means rows of people on wooden benches towering over the speaker and less possibility of walking about and using pointers at the screen; the slides are projected on top of the speaker’s head.

A few times in the past, the exhibitors have had a hard time, being sent to rooms away from the crowd. This time, they are in a hallway and everyone must walk past them to go from one room to another. It looks like a good idea as far as maximizing  passage and visibility and the hallway is wide enough not to get clogged up when people stop to chat.

Peter Leeson (Q:PIT Ltd)

Happy People or Slick Process

Over the past few years, the focus of many organizations has moved to ensure that they have controls and processes and work-practices in place. This is backed up with automation and tools that ensure that more and more of the practices that controlled and “fool-proof”. The idea is to try to stop people making mistakes by ensuring that everything is controlled, audited and managed.

While this has undoubtedly allowed organization to deliver more and more complex systems, I do not believe that the resulting increases in quality or productivity, or the reduction in costs is commensurate to the investment made.

We need to remember that *people* still need to do the work, and people who are happy in their work are generally more productive, both quantitatively and qualitatively. It is time to reinforce this concept and structure the happiness of the people. Most organizations that fail in their improvement programmes (and I estimate that 80% of improvement programmes fail in a significant manner, some of them recover) fail because they have listened to consultants and technocrats and salespeople and have not considered their own staff, the people doing the work. The good theoretical processes that are implemented in many organizations tend to alienate the people who need to use them and end up creating more bureaucracy than anything else.

It is not difficult to make people happy at work; the ingredients are well known, but few people in authority appear willing to follow the recipe, because they believe there must be a short-cut.

1. People need a sense of direction, clear objectives that explain what the organization does, what their role is within that organization and what their job is within that role. This sense of direction is explained and demonstrated: if you talk about quality and measure costs and schedules, every one rapidly understands that “quality” means delivering anything cheap and fast.

2. People need the means to do their work, that includes the time, the budget, the tools, the training and their management support.

3. People need their humanity to be recognized: all humans make mistakes continuously. By acknowledging that fact, management can encourage staff to recognize their mistakes, learn from them and share the lessons learnt instead of investing a lot of time in covering them up.

4. People need to be respected. If I estimate that it is going to take me 5 days to do a job, my manager tells me to do it in three, and finally the sales rep promises that it will be completed in two (because the customer is always right), I will feel devalued. As a consequence, I will ensure that I complete the job according to my own original estimate, and will pad the estimate next time to cover the downgrading.

5. People need to be respected even more – when they have been doing a job more or less successfully for many years, it would be nice to ask them their recommendations on how to improve and change things rather than relying only on some theoretician/consultant (yes, I am a consultant, so I may say this).

6. People need support. When given a job that they do not understand, staff need to feel that they can go to their manager and say what the problem is. They need to know that management will respect people who admit weakness and provide them the environment they need to learn and grow.

7. People need an environment that is conducive to their work. If they are doing an intellectual, creative job that requires high levels of concentration (e.g. engineers), they should not be placed in noisy open-space offices where they are interrupted every 30 seconds by other people’s phone calls and conversations.

8. People need to be able to share and discuss with colleagues, something that requires team-spaces by opposition to open-plan offices or isolated offices.

I am reassured that most of these points are covered by the CMMI at Maturity Level 2. If the generic practices are implemented correctly, with policies, proactive QA and measurements that support one another, we will rapidly have progress. If the processes and practices are implemented by the people doing the work and avoiding the temptation of jumping straight to level-3 style standardization, success can be achieved, to the general satisfaction of all involved.

And satisfied people are happy people who are motivated to do good work.

Peter Leeson (Q:PIT Ltd)

SEPG Europe 2010 Prep: SEI meets FEUP

The SEPG Europe 2010 core team traveled from Pittsburgh, Pa. to Porto, Portugal late last week. In addition to taking in the city’s beautiful sights, we’ve spent a lot of our time at the campus of the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto – or FEUP – preparing for the opening of SEPG Europe 2010.  We’ve been hard at work setting up the registration desk, assembling welcome bags, preparing the session rooms, and ensuring that everything is ready for the more than 200 delegates.

As the public relations representative for the Software Engineering Institute and the SEPG Conference Series, part of my job here is handing social media, writing daily delegate communication, and coordinating media interviews. So, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Ana Martins who handles PR for FEUP. After corresponding via email for the past month, it was wonderful to meet her and put a face to a name.

We spent some time discussing media outreach during SEPG Europe as well as our roles within our respective organizations. Despite the fact that we work in different countries, we found we had a lot of similarities in our jobs beyond just working for academic organizations. We talked a good bit about the role of social media and its growing relevance.  Ana is a former journalist who moved to the public relations side, so she brought an interesting perspective. We both agreed that the media landscape continues to evolve around the world, and we are both finding that that brings both challenges and new opportunities.

Ana also shared with me some FEUP fun facts with me.  Did you know that:

  • With 90,000 square meters of campus and 8,000 students, teachers, and technicians, FEUP is the biggest faculty of the biggest university in Portugal
  • FEUP graduated the first female engineer in Portugal
  • FEUP was a winner of the worldwide championship in robotics
  • FEUP has partnerships with many internationally recognized organizations such as Microsoft, IBM, CERN and ESA
  • FEUP hosted the Worldwide Championship of Autonomous Robotics Sailing competition. They also compete every year and came in second last year. GO FEUP!
  • Among its many world patents, FEUP has patented a way to remove the alcohol from beer to produce a non-alcoholic beer with an improved taste.

Those are just a few of the notable facts and accomplishments of our host location.

We’d love for you to add to the conversation about social media.  What is your preferred way to communicate professionally? Personally? Leave a comment on this post, we would love to hear from you!

Brittney Osikowicz

SEI/SEPG Public Relations

The #1 Reason to Attend SEPG Europe 2010: More Direct Interaction with Experts

SEPG Europe 2010 is the premier conference in Europe where you directly interact with the Software Engineering Institute as well as more experts in the software process community than anywhere else. SEPG Europe offers four days of rich learning and networking opportunities for both newcomers and returning delegates, all in the magnificent setting of Porto, Portugal. SEPG Europe offers a more intimate environment than other conferences, helping to facilitate high-quality engagements with the SEI and software process experts.

Your most enriching interactions may occur in the session rooms, or aboard a wooden boat … in the auditorium or as you’re sipping a glass of Port wine, the namesake drink of our host city. Regardless of where you connect with software process experts from around the globe, SEPG Europe 2010 promises to provide valuable and practical insights, ideas for solutions to implement once you return home, an expanded professional network – and maybe even a camera full of photos.

However, the interaction doesn’t stop once SEPG Europe 2010 has concluded. There are plenty of ways for you to stay connected with the software process community online. Besides reading this blog, be sure to join the SEPG Conferences LinkedIn group and follow us on Twitter. These official SEPG Conferences social media tools allow everyone to stay connected throughout the year. In fact, be sure to keep an eye on our blog for upcoming SEPG Asia-Pacific announcements.

We hope to see you at SEPG Europe 2010!

The #2 Reason to Attend SEPG Europe 2010: Fascinating Local Culture

After the day’s conference activities are through, there’s plenty to do and see in the beautiful city of Porto, one of Europe’s oldest tourism destinations. Whether you’re seeking ancient or modern sites, you won’t be at a loss for things to do in Porto. Here are just a few:
  • Put on your walking shoes and take a jaunt to Ponte de Lima to visit the International Garden Festival, which aims to bring flowers, plants, and art into closer contact with urban space.
  • Power up your camera and photograph some of Porto’s ancient architecture, including the Oporto Cathedral (the city’s oldest surviving structure), the Romanesque Church of Cedofeita, the remnants of the city walls, and some of the 15th century houses that are still standing.
  • Soak up the sounds of the Casa de Musica Concert Hall, featuring a performance as vibrant as Vienna’s Opera.
  • Enjoy local cuisine, including a dish called “Francesinha.” Porto is one of the only places in the world where you can enjoy an authentic version of this dish, which is toasted bread filled with beef, pork, or ham and topped with cheese and a spicy tomato and beer sauce.
Look for more activity ideas in the SEPG Europe 2010 Program and Directory, which will be included in delegate welcome bags.
Do you have other suggestions? We want to hear them! Comment on this blog post to share your site-seeing ideas with others.

The #3 Reason to Attend SEPG Europe 2010: Engaging Keynote Speakers

Four recognized leaders in the process improvement industry have been announced as the keynote speakers at SEPG Europe 2010.
  • Linda Northrop, director of the Research, Technology, and System Solutions Program at the Software Engineering Institute where she leads the work in architecture-centric engineering, software product lines, system of systems, and ultra-large-scale systems research.
  • Dr. Richard Mark Soley, chairman and chief executive officer of the Object Management Group, Inc. (OMG®) and executive director of the SOA Consortium.
  • Dr. Ian Sommerville, professor of computer science at St. Andrews University, Scotland and principal investigator in the UK’s Large Scale Complex IT Systems research program.
  • Jacqueline (Jacqui) Guichelaar, head of global production services within GT Capital Markets at Deutsche Bank, responsible for global production services across all business lines.

As part of an engaging technical program, the SEPG Europe 2010 keynote speakers will address the design of dependable systems, the future of ultra-large-scale systems, making process framework deliver valuable services, and the process and schedule for developing a standard of software quality metrics.

To read more about these four software process improvement experts and their professional backgrounds and accomplishments, visit the SEPG Europe website.

The #4 Reason to Attend SEPG Europe 2010: Professional Development Opportunities

In addition to the tutorials, technical program, and networking opportunities, SEPG Europe 2010 provides a mechanism for delegates to advance their careers across the process improvement landscape.

The Software Engineering Institute will be offering qualification examinations for SEI Certifications at SEPG Europe 2010. Schedule your exam at SEPG Europe and take advantage of this opportunity to enhance your career and stretch your conference dollars. Seats are limited, so sign up early!

Held on Monday, 28 June at the Sheraton Porto Hotel & Spa, SEPG Europe 2010 certification exams include:

  • SCAMPI LA Certification Exam
  • CMMI-SVC Certification Exam
  • CMMI Instructor Training Entry Exam
  • CMMI-ACQ Certification Exam
  • SCAMPI HM LA Entry Exam (registration for this exam requires prior approval)

To view the schedule for these exams, or to register, visit the Certification exams portal. There are a limited number of spots for each exam, so register today!