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The Software Business: Where to from here


Designers / Authors make tradeoffs between these groups' needs. 14 Oct 2004 ... SW Designers often forget. Basics must work! Take money, deliver goods ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Software Business: Where to from here

The Software BusinessWhere to from here
  • Maurice Castro

  • Where is the user?
  • Business Business education
  • Multidisciplinary teams

Software - a horror storyHow successful are we?
  • 2001 Survey of American Software Projects
  • This is an improvement over previous years!

Standish, Extreme Chaos, 2001
Software - a horror storyHow bad can it get?
  • RMITs Peoplesoft deployment
  • 3.7 x budget 47M
  • Blame
  • Schedule
  • Under estimated task
  • Burnt bridges - no parallel run / old system
  • HP Ordering Software cut earnings in a big way
    in August. Executives got fired.
  • Tacoma, Wash.'s budget held hostage by glitch,
    delayed financial aid to Uni students in Indiana

In depth RMIT's PeopleSoft disaster Patrick
Gray, ZDNet Australia September 30, 2003 Bad
software not bad after all, Matthew Fordahl
Associated Press
Software - a horror storyWhy?
  • The usual suspects
  • Poor project management
  • Bad / Changing requirements
  • Poor communication, implementation training
  • Only symptoms. The REAL problems are
  • Not knowing what really matters to a business
  • Not knowing or understanding users and customers

Where is the user?
  • The real world is a complex place
  • People who set the requirements
  • Person who buys the software
  • People who use the software
  • Many different types
  • Designers / Authors make tradeoffs between these
    groups needs

Where is the user? Who the user is not!
  • Not the programmer
  • Not someone like me but a bit different
  • Not an expert in Computer Science
  • Not a beginner

Where is the user? Programmers vs Users
Cooper A, The Inmates are Running the Asylum
Where is the user?How to find users
  • Personas
  • Interview users and distil a sketch of each key
    user type.
  • Must be detailed but not eccentric. Description
    must be good enough that the user doesnt wiggle
    to meet programmers view.
  • Construct typical scenarios of use

Where is the user?An example Persona
  • Joan Smith
  • 39, Single, Aspiring middle level mgr
  • 12 hr days not unusual
  • Heavy user of telephones, e-mail and faxes
  • Would like to leave work at work

Its what I do not who I am
Where is the user?SW Designers often forget
  • Basics must work!
  • Take money, deliver goods / services, accept
  • Frequently performed
  • Prominent, customisable quick
  • Do the most for most customers
  • Being something/everything to everybody is a
    recipe for being at best mediocre
  • Features are the enemy
  • More features More complexity
  • More code More maintenance costs

Business Business Education
  • We live in a capitalist society
  • Economics
  • The efficient allocation of scarce resources
  • Management
  • No man is an island
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Creating value

Business Business EducationWhy especially for
  • Software is different
  • Cost of duplication negligible
  • Cost of development high
  • cf. Manufacturing
  • Fixed cost Setup
  • Variable cost per unit materials and labour
  • For software savings in development costs at
    expense of maintenance and support dont make
    much sense

Business Business EducationCapitalism - How
things work
  • Capital Labour Wages Profits
  • Free Markets
  • Many decision makers
  • Buy on what customers think the merits are

Business Business EducationCapitalism - How
things work
  • The Value Chain
  • Competitors, suppliers, customers complementors
  • Complementor - together our products are worth
    more than if either did not exist or were offered

Business Business EducationEconomics
  • Some things are at least partly predictable
  • Variables Interest rates, foreign exchange and
    supply and demand
  • How are your customers or suppliers affected?
  • Situational awareness

Business Business EducationManagement
  • A one man operation can only do so much
  • 1 person can create a product
  • But, can they maintain, market run the
  • How do you interact with others
  • Above
  • Below
  • At the same level
  • Dealing with conflict
  • Negotiating

Business Business EducationEntrepreneurship
  • So you have a great idea
  • How to convince others its great
  • How to convince others your trustworthy to invest
  • How to get out at the end
  • Details
  • Running a business Legals, Accounting,
    Employment etc

Business Business EducationThe MBA
  • Sampler course typically optional units
  • Economics
  • Finance
  • Accounting
  • Organisational Behaviour
  • Business Strategy
  • Experience in workforce / business makes it more

Business Business EducationThe MBA
  • Does it help get you a job
  • More often becoming a pre-requisite for
    management jobs
  • Deeper understanding of how things work
  • No magic bullet!
  • Downsides
  • Personally challenging experience
  • Still a bias towards management consultants

Multidisciplinary Teams
  • CS and SE should be good at these
  • Rarely produce things for ourselves only
  • Eg. Compilers text editors
  • However, SW is complex
  • Mastery requires unusual personality traits
  • Fail to develop other necessary skills
  • Our mythology is built around successful
    individuals (Nerds, Geeks Hackers)

Multidisciplinary TeamsRequirements Form Keep
  • Communication
  • Must create a shared language
  • Trust
  • Things go wrong, 1st failure must not be fatal
  • Different viewpoints conflict
  • Contribution
  • Each specialty brings value
  • No point if one of them can go it alone

Multidisciplinary TeamsProblems
  • Dont seem to last
  • Stressful participants are outside comfort zone
  • Values conflict
  • Different concepts of rigour, proof sufficiency
  • Replacing members means rebuilding trust
  • What am I? doubts among participants
  • Maintaining skills more difficult
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