by October 4, 2011 0 comments











Andy
Mulholland, CTO,
Capgemini

My
starting point for this blog was going to be about the large Open
Source annual event of the year called OSCON 2011 

and sure enough it was interesting in terms of the spread of topics
and speakers advocating how and where Open Source is growing. True to
the spirit of Open Source, the event has made it very easy to
‘participate’ by making most, if not all, of the material
available from its website which includes an indexed
list of speakers
and their slides
.
What struck me most was that
Open Source is now a fact of life, and most IT shops have become
users in some way or other over the last few years, so this is a
pretty good overview on the topic, but it seems lacking any big news!

What
has caught my eye is all the recent material about the way we build
and deliver software in terms of methods and an escalating debate as
to whether traditional project management is helping or hindering in
these changes. This also includes one area that I think may be big
news, and makes logical sense as a build on how things are
progressing, and that’s ‘social coding’. If you are not up to
speed on this topic then Rick Freedman wrote a good piece entitled
Social
coding — the next wave in development
‘ 

on the TechRepublic website in July. By the way, the last line in
this piece is critical and I will be coming back to this point.

There
are several start-ups in this space, but GitHub 

is the one I am most aware of and is linked to Tim O’Reilly and the
Open Source movement, so it’s a good example. The idea is to make
it ‘easier to collaborate with others and share your projects with
the universe.’ A claimed one million people are using GitHub and
have stored two million code repositories for reuse through a set of
powerful tools that GitHub was created around.

Why
it interests me is that it corresponds to the way business itself is
changing, i.e. a focus towards an ever-increasing amount of online
interactions and collaborations in the front office around events and
markets that are for ever changing, rather than the back office and
its large stable of carefully crafted and compliant, maintained,
transactional processes. In short, it mirrors the fluid interactions
and collaborations to deliver short-term optimizations and success.
To me, it’s the shift in organizing how we respond to and deliver
to a new generation of requirements that’s the issue, much, much
more than the discussions on Agile, Scrum, etc.

Though
that’s not to say these topics are unimportant, but it’s a cause
and effect issue; the cause for change is business and working
changes, the effect is the methods in use to write software change to
match. I suspect that some of the issues encountered over the last
year really stem from the coding method not being aligned to the
project delivery method. Scrum in particular has suffered from this
issue so here is my opportunity to point to a new updated set of
principles from the founders of Scrum, Ken Schwaber, and Jeff
Sutherland, in the form of the definitive Scrum Guide 2011
,
available together with other interesting stuff from the Scrum 

website
.

So
what was the last line in the social coding piece that was so
critical? It read: ‘
These
new
social coding tools enable a revolution in product development
through communities; the challenge is getting the organization and
project teams to think and act as communities.’
I
would slightly re-word this and say, ‘think and act as part of
communities.’ If the business sponsor is directly and closely
engaged with the coding team, managing the requirements and
deliverables, and the project manager is not on side enabling this
then their role becomes an opposing force, and all too often their
mature rulebook based on ‘the way we do things round here’ is
simply not appropriate and ends up damaging the project.

A
good example is usually the amount and time of testing being correct
for a monolithic core enterprise application where failure would
literally be catastrophic, rather than a small code object that might
be used for four weeks before modification or even being binned. So
what could their role morph into? It’s an interesting question that
should attract some good posted comments! My view is that we are
going to need a new role and emphasis on the continuity of knowledge
and approach by being maintained for the whole, and that the project
manager becomes more of a mentor and enabler by being able to play
the role of the external collaboration manager.

I’m
looking forward to some good comments on this contentious subject!!
To get started here is an interesting set of views posted in answer
to the question;
Project
Manager, Scrum Master, or are they one and the same? 


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