Interdisciplinary approaches to software testing just seemd to be ”beyond the boundaries” for my brain to comprehend until reading the article. A comment on the post was also particularly meaningful to me – stating a view that I have often been criticized for voicing myself. “Testing, like designing and programming, is as much an art form as engineering.” The comment goes on to compare testers to choreographers and users to the dancers. I personally love that concept! It portrays a vision of software development which I have long had, and work daily to achieve – that is creating the perfect symphony that users can play beautifully.]]>
Have you also read my Top 5 Reasons to Love IT and my Top 5 Reasons to Hate IT?]]>
Be sure to read my Top 5 Reasons I Love IT also.]]>
Be sure to read my Top 5 Reasons I Hate IT also.]]>
Every now and then I read something that I look at and say to myself “I could have written that!”. My good friend and fellow Visual Dataflex developer Peter Donovan posted an excellent paper on his blog today entitled “DOS to Windows Conversion: a facelift?” which falls into this category. I highly recommend it. While I generally go about my days recently as if character-based applications no longer exist, I know better. In his paper Peter gives his top 10 reasons for considering a DOS (character-based) application to windows conversion. He states that “The time to invest in a DOS to windows conversion is overdue.”, and I couldn’t agree more.]]>
This became very clear to me once again last week when I received an unexpected request from a user to add a simple lookup function to a field in their order entry program which has been in use (…and regularly enhanced) for over 5 years. When I first received the request I was shocked to discover that such an obviously beneficial function would be missing. In fact, my first thought was something like “How could [the user] miss it? Of course there is a lookup there!” Then, upon further investigation and review going back numerous iterations and versions I discovered much to my surprise that it NEVER was there — an obvious omission.
All of this led me to recognize once again the value of having a close relationship with my user community. Working with the small & medium size companies that I do, it is generally commonplace. This incident also pointed out to me that user and software developer/designer alike can easily miss obvious functionality enhancements.
P.S. The program now has the desired lookup!]]>
Of course, there are those projects which are mandated to be web or client, design tools may be mandated, and of course there are the talents of the design/programming team to consider – which sometimes will restrict design to a particular method. However, in my experience, there may often be many choices to accomplish a given task – that is to say, choices in how to produce a certain end result.
In reading a new ITKE blog Taming the Wild, Wild Web I thought of a common example of what I am referring to. One can choose to code a web page, for instance, using in-line HTML and specifying literally everything to be included on a page — OR — they can choose to incorporate CSS for example to accomplish the “look and feel” desired. While an argument can be made that using CSS has many advantages — IF one has limited time and little knowledge of how to use CSS well the developer isn’t going to stop and learn CSS and then do the page. (…at least that’s my opinion!).
There will always be pros and cons about a particular method to accomplish a programmed task. Many times the “best” approach to accomplishing the task will be the method best known to the developer. At other times the “best” approach may be the one that executes most efficiently – and at yet other times the best approach may simply be the approach that produces the desired end-result for the user, on-time and on-budget.]]>
I’ve worked mostly with smaller companies, often times businesses that have started off very small and grown to become multi-location operations. As their growth has progressed the needs for tighter controls becomes increasingly apparent. No longer can the business depend upon the memory of that one key individual who “knows everything” that’s going on — who knows the customers, knows the vendors, knows each employee. As staff increases so does the “risk” associated with no longer having a close, trusted, personal relationship with employees, often co-founders of the company.
Many of the applications with which I’ve worked were originally developed specifically to provide the growing organization a means to “get a handle on” information that many may need, but early on resided in the head of the “key” person. The small company finds a way to get the job done – process is the least of concerns. I believe that what happens often during the growth period is that as the need for defining the business process becomes clear, efforts to define the business process fail because there are “so many variables”.
Its at this point that I’ve found a company will generally make the buy or build decision for software. Some will look at a vertical market package for their industry and decide that the “business process” required by the software is the way they should be running their business. (Hey — it works for others – why re-invent the wheel?). Others may find that they just can’t see themselves running their business “just like everybody else”, and they will choose to have a customized application. Then there are those who choose that vertical market package, work hard to change their business processes to “fit” the software, and then find the “work-a-rounds”.
“Work-a-rounds” add a level of complexity to the business process that is generally not required. If your business processes are too complicated – maybe its time to look at how much is a “work-a-round”, you may be surprised.]]>
The claims for their service are nobel, the marketing spin excellent – but is this green IT? I think NOT!
I think green IT involves much more than virtualizing servers, although that is certainly a step in the right direction. I think it also involves re-thinking the business processes and how they affect the need for the multitude of equipment which we so readily add. I think it involves a major shift toward the “paperless office” and all that the concept has promised. Green IT won’t happen overnight – it isn’t a place to go! Rather I think “Green IT” is a way of doing business, in fact, a way of life.]]>
Anyway, that being said, these terms are no laughing matter for those faced with the real challenge of making simple the complexity of data available to companies today. From my experience I’d say that most companies – even those single location small companies, have a multitude of information stored in a multitude of systems. The “systems” containing this data may be an individual PC, a company ERP system on a server, a sales (CRM) system (maybe on a multitude of salespersons laptops) – each its own “silo”.
There are many stories of failed BI implementations. Why? I would posit that users trust their data and information, but not necessarily that coming from say, the IT department. They know where “their” data is coming from, how it was collected, and it’s meaning – because its “theirs”! Whether it presents a complete picture, or is applicable in all instances is totally irrelevant – just ask that branch manager, or department manager … or whoever has the data.
That being said, I’d say that perhaps key to getting the most value from the data you have available is getting the buy-in of the end-users of the data in regard to data source and reliability. If a data source is to be used, do the end-users “trust” the data? No trust – Don’t use it! An interesting post suggesting 3 causes of failure for BI implementations is available here – an interesting read.]]>