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Re: [agile-usability] top down, or bottom up?

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  • Rob Keefer
    Josh, These are very cool observations. I wonder though, do you think what you are seeing is a result of lack of vision during design or lack of a champion
    Message 1 of 36 , Apr 22, 2005
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      Josh,
       
      These are very cool observations. I wonder though, do you think what you are seeing is a result of lack of vision during design or lack of a champion during development?
       
      From my experience in gathering requirements and designing systems it seems that customers/users are good at stating a feature from a high level ("based on historical data, I'd like a report showing the inventory I'm going to need in October"). But then the discussion takes a turn into the woods to figure out what data is needed to produce the report. Screens are designed for the users entering the data as well as for the managers.
       
      Then the realities of development hit - developers build all of the data entry screens because "you need those before you can create the report." No one is there to pull the developers back from their focus on the data entry screens (i.e. a champion). Managers run out of money and begin to cut scope. The project originally intended to be an Enterprise Business Intelligence application, is now just another data entry app.
       
      This is one place where I think agile can really shine. By having the customer more invloved and by focusing on end-to-end solutions early in the development process, the manager will hopefully see value in the project (i.e. get some form of the inventory report) before the money runs out.
       
      - Rob
       

      Josh Seiden <joshseiden@...> wrote:
      > No one usually forgets the big things
      > - but people often overlook critical
      > little details. 

      I have to take issue with this statement.

      One example: I've been working with ERP systems for
      the past eight years or so. With two exceptions, EVERY
      SINGLE enterprise application I've ever seen has
      missed the big picture.

      Most entrprise apps are glorified database entry
      screens. They do little to help the users work
      smarter, or to reap the benefits from their
      form-filling activities. Occasionally, some
      applications provide "reporting modules" that let you
      spend Friday afternoon looking at what you've entered
      all week long, or let your manager see what you've
      been up to. But this meta information (analysis,
      consequence feedback, metrics, etc) is *almost never*
      baked into the day-to-day work experience of the user.

      (Gratuitous aside: this is as much the fault of
      platform designers as it is application designers.)

      At the end of the day, you can't advocate for solely
      bottom up or top down approaches. (As this thread will
      likely conclude, you need some of both.) But you need
      to be sure you have a system that lets you link the
      bottom to the top. Without that, you risk taking what
      you see at the bottom level at face value (you never
      get to kill useless low level tasks) and you never get
      the opportunity to deliver important low-level tasks
      within a context that supports higher-order goals.

      Missing the big picture is so common that we accept it
      as the nature of software. Unless we do the top-down
      analysis and then link our solutions to the top-level
      goals we uncover, we will continue to accept this. And
      then woe is we.

      JS


    • Glen B Alleman
      Alistair, Crystal has a variety of options. Others are narrower. Few are as broadly based as your approach. I m more focused on specific development method
      Message 36 of 36 , May 8, 2005
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        Alistair,

        Crystal has a variety of options. Others are narrower. Few are as broadly
        based as your approach. I'm more focused on specific development method that
        move outside their "sweet spot" leaking into other areas - off the sweet
        spot. I see this not as an issue of the method but it's application. Mis
        applied CMMI, mis applied XP, mis applied TOC.

        Glen

        -----Original Message-----
        From: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
        [mailto:agile-usability@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of aacockburn
        Sent: Sunday, May 08, 2005 10:46 AM
        To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: [agile-usability] Re: elite methods

        I'm sure you mean "almost" everyone, Glen --- I've been researching
        and publishing on the topic of selecting methods for over a decade
        now, have a PhD, three books, a dozen articles and most of a website
        on the question of selecting a process. I'm not alone: that aspect of
        my PhD wasn't considered novel at all but rather as fully established
        in the research community; Capers Jones talks about it in his
        benchmarking book; RUP and the UP are all about that; Boehm has a
        book and articles about it, there are others.

        By this late date, the notion of a single methodology as a silver
        bullet is severely outmoded.

        Alistair

        --- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, "Glen B Alleman"
        <glen.alleman@n...> wrote:
        > Jon,
        >
        >
        >
        > The problem of deciding how to apply a processes to a problem
        domain is
        > nearly universal. Ranging from heavy to light. I've experienced
        poorly
        > applied CMMI to poorly applied XP and everything in between. No
        one seem to
        > want to approach the "improvement" process from an external point -
        as you
        > suggest - selecting the right process for the problem. I'm
        searching though
        > for the solution - none found so far. Everyone's got a silver
        bullet looking
        > for the werewolf to shoot ;>)
        >
        >
        >
        > Glen B. Alleman
        >
        > <http://www.niwotridge.com> www.niwotridge.com
        >
        > www.niwotridge.com/Blog
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > _____
        >
        > From: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
        > [mailto:agile-usability@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Jon Kern
        > Sent: Friday, May 06, 2005 6:36 PM
        > To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
        > Subject: Re: [agile-usability] Re: elite methods
        >
        >
        >
        > i don't think there is any indication that anyone meant that all
        heavy
        > processes are to hide incompetence.
        >
        > however, i submit there are at least a few reasons for introducing
        process:
        > - because someone has a good set of steps worth repeating (good
        teams do
        > this automatically)
        > - because someone wants to ensure a set of steps are done and
        may not
        > trust the doer at knowing what to do (bureaucracies are good at
        doing this)
        >
        > i hope i left wiggle room in my original post for applying the
        right process
        > for the right reasons. my flippant remarks are intended to jolt
        people into
        > thinking if they are applying the right level of process. a
        heavyweight
        > process (such as might be applied in your NQA-1 example) applied to
        a
        > mediocre business app is probably not an effective use of resources.
        >
        > also, i have seen people conduct process steps "just because" --
        either
        > because they cannot think for themselves, or that they are dis-
        incented to
        > not follow process, or they are naive, or they do not care if they
        are
        > wasting resources (money and time).
        >
        > but, for a mission critical app, i hope the right process is
        followed... as
        > it is in almost every "hard" engineering discipline i ever worked
        within.
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > -- jon
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > Glen B Alleman said the following on 5/6/2005 8:54 AM:
        >
        > Jon,
        >
        >
        >
        > Mission critical can be applied outside man rated as NASA uses that
        term.
        > Mission critical can be applied to a brad variety of system from
        process
        > control, to supply chain management. Pacemakers are 21CFR,
        petrochem is OSHA
        > 1910.119, rod control for a reactor is NQA-1, the ground mission
        planning
        > and dispatch for air defense has another framework.
        >
        >
        >
        > The comment (now seen a flippant) that poor developers hide behind
        high
        > ceremony struck me a uninformed about those working in the high
        ceremony
        > development envirnemnt that also use agile methods. Thy are not
        mutually
        > exclusive
        >
        >
        >
        > Glen
        >
        >
        >
        > _____
        >
        > From: <mailto:agile-usability@yahoogroups.com>
        > agile-usability@yahoogroups.com [mailto:agile-
        usability@yahoogroups.com] On
        > Behalf Of Jon Kern
        > Sent: Friday, May 06, 2005 5:17 AM
        > To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
        > Subject: Re: [agile-usability] Re: elite methods
        >
        >
        >
        > please define mission-critical...
        > man-rated, mission critical systems are a different story.
        >
        > always attach the right level of rigor and process as needed...
        >
        > software for an embedded pacemaker is different than making an
        online
        > mortgage loan application system.
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > -- jon
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > Glen B Alleman said the following on 5/5/2005 11:40 AM:
        >
        > As one who leads CMMI IPPD development this is likely not true in
        > practice...but simply conjecture on the part of those not
        practicing heavy
        > processes in a mission critical environment.
        >
        > Glen B Alleman
        >
        > -----Original Message-----
        > From: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
        > [mailto:agile-usability@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of aacockburn
        > Sent: Thursday, May 05, 2005 9:35 AM
        > To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
        > Subject: [agile-usability] Re: elite methods
        >
        > At least, they will defend them because it's easier to hid :-)
        >
        >
        > --- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, "Cummins, Darin"
        > <mailto:Darin_Cummins@a...> <Darin_Cummins@a...> wrote:
        > > If you twist this one more time, does that imply that incompetent
        > > developers choose heavy processes because it's easier to hide? ;-)
        > >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > _____
        >
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