Reality Bites: donít trust paper signs and business software 
Tuesday, July 5, 2005, 02:24 PM - Personal
I have recently been doing interviews for hiring software developers and software test engineers. Some of the interviewees were good professionals some not, however what amazed me is the lack of maturity in some of the organizations at which some of the candidates worked. Surprisingly enough these organizations were not small shops doing web sites for under 50$ per piece. I summarized the information I gathered in these interviews to make people aware of software reality.

The first shocking experience I had was during the second interview of a software engineer working at one of the major Bulgarian banks. They use software supplied by huge CMMI 5 certified Indian company, specialized in banking software. The Indian company had sent two engineers full time to support the system throughout the branches of the bank. As the engineer explained the guys were extremely helpful, friendly, knowledgeable and willing to help. She then started telling me that form time to time that the software will fail. Well I thought this is normal, it happens with all software. Then she told me how the issues get resolved. Basically she would call the Indian guys they would fix the software in couple of hours and put it as pilot in some of the bank branches. If it then runs ok for couple of days they install it in all branches. Then she started telling me about program improvements and changes and again repeated the deployment flow. She also added that it had happened sometimes that the program will fail in some of the branches and then it is really hectic process to repair the corrupted data. Was I shocked, in my 8 year experience in various companies none of them having any CMMI seal I had never seen such vivid demonstration of profanity and lack of responsibility. Not only were changes to the software made in an obviously uncontrolled manner, not only was validation and verification of any kind missing, but risk of failures was directly transferred to completely unaware end users having their savings at stake.

Few weeks later I interviewed software quality assurance engineer working for mid sized German company supplying reservation software to some of the biggest European airlines. The company at least in his words followed strictly Rational Unified Process. We had discussion on how long it takes to test particular project release and how he would estimate the effort needed to test particular project. To my amazement the QA expert told me that they release their software weekly with the changes that customers had asked for during the previous week and within one week or less they implement changes to functionality performed tests within a day and deployed the new version on Monday. He added that in several cases they had to rollback production servers during working hours as software failed. He then added that customers are pushing for quick releases and testing the application thoroughly would cost a lot. I were then thinking of all the frustrated people that lost their reservation data, missed a flight or in best case had to spend couple of days to make a simple reservation.

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Benefits of offshore QA 
Wednesday, June 22, 2005, 06:22 PM - CMMI, Technology
I found an interesting report today about offshore test centers.

AMR Offshore Test Centers Study

It has some very interesting observations on the benefits of offshore test centers as well as ideas on key success factors.
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Exchange & SharePoint on the same machine 
Thursday, June 16, 2005, 11:53 AM - Technology, Technology publications
We are still a small company yet and we use the same machine for both MS Echange and SharePoint server. However up till now I had not been able to configure them to operate correctly. I just found several articles on Microsoft's site that give instructuions how to make these guys work together:

SharePoint interoperability guide

Setting up SharePoint to interoperate with Exchange i.e. to not intercept request for Exchange OWA

Setting up Kerberos for SharePoint
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CMMI first post 
Monday, June 13, 2005, 10:55 PM - CMMI, CMMI Implementation
Here I will be publishing items I stumble upon while implementing the quality management system of Tineo IT Labs using the CMMI guidelines. Tineo IT Labs is a new software service company, founded in February 2005, aiming to deliver top quality service in Europe and around the globe. Our belief is that using simple communication and business processes combined with sound engineering and management practices we can deliver high value service to our customers.
To get the job done we will be using the principles of CMMI. Initially I will be implementing quality management system to comply with ISO and CMMI level 2. It will for sure include a lot of level 3 stuff, but not all.
My first step is to get a solid foundation for the effort, including:

Templates/framework for documenting processes

It will be really nice to have format that easily supports hyperlinks, embedding of files, graphics and printing. In addition some automatic way to trace items between documents would be great particularly for process inputs and outputs.

Process Asset Library (PAL) system

The process asset library is the place where all data will be stored. Now my plans for what goes in to it are:

- organizational processes documentation classified by process area/intended audience/resource type

- tailored process documents by project type/customer

- process documents from previous projects including archived documentation, lessons learned and metrics summaries.

I am not sure if process documents of running projects should be contained in this library as they are live documents and will require less rigid control, plus they should be easily accessible to project members at all times.

Metrics systems

The metrics system is vital for us, as it will provide transparency to customers on the status of their projects.
The metrics database should be easily used by engineers daily it should be possible to integrate with 3rd party sources of data like issue tracking systems.
The end result should display project status screen to customers/managers indicating overall project state and summary of the individual project aspects.
At present I am reviewing one metrics system I downloaded from NASA's website

Come back for more!

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Very nice project metrics/management program 
Monday, June 13, 2005, 12:30 PM - CMMI, CMMI Publications
I have found a very good CMMI metrics program on the web from NASA. It covers a lot of the software development information for a project or even an organization.

The program is available from NASA Metrics Database

Note that I had some trouble setting it up on Windows XP. However after couple of tries it worked and it looks quite well.

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