Thursday Aug 23, 2012

Reflections on the Agile2012 Conference

Last week, I had the great fortune to attend the Agile2012 conference at the lovely Gaylord Texan Hotel in Grapevine, TX, just a short drive (at least by Texas standards) from where I live.  Overall, the conference was a great experience and I am very glad to have had the opportunity to participate.   I picked up a number of ideas for tools and techniques that will most likely find their way into OUM at some point.   It was encouraging to hear real-world agile success stories described at a number of the sessions and to see the passion and energy from the conference attendees.  Discussions with fellow agile practitioners were extremely valuable, as is usually the case at such conferences.  I plan to include some of these topics in future blogs.

I found that many of the ideas we promote in OUM about balancing agility and discipline are now becoming increasingly in vogue within the agile community.  Teams are finding it valuable to produce plans and documentation at the appropriate level depending on the particular project situation.   Keeping an eye on enterprise architecture and establishing a solid technical architecture was a common theme in several of the sessions I attended.  Whether people use the term iteration or sprint, there was a true appreciation of how the agile approach to managing projects drives out risks and identifies possible errors early on in the project.  To sum it up, I got the impression from the conference that there is a growing recognition of the benefits of flexible and scalable methods like OUM.

I heard several people mention that the Wild West days of agile are coming to an end.  It is my theory that the wider approval of agile techniques, coupled with the growing practice among agile teams to apply a certain amount of discipline, is probably leading to the Wild West impression fading away into the sunset.  In any case, I thought the phrase was rather appropriate given the venue.

What do you think?  Are the Wild West days of agile coming to an end?  Are those days a perception, reality or both?

Tuesday May 08, 2012

OUM and PMI's Pulse of the Profession: The Fifth In a Series

Welcome to the fifth (and final) blog entry of the series on PMI’s 2012 Pulse of the Profession .  The previous blog entry focused on Key Finding #4: Organizations will renew their focus on talent development as they look to grow and gain competitive advantage in new markets.  That entry highlighted how the OUM Training Program prepares project team members in various roles to be effective on an OUM project.

In this blog entry we will look at PMI’s Key Finding #5: Despite tight economic conditions, organizations have been and will continue to increase their focus on benefits realization success metrics.  PMI’s research shows project/program managers must maintain a focus on the strategic objectives of the project.  Anyone who has been on a project knows it is not easy to keep the big picture in mind when we are caught up in our day-to-day tasks.  So in this blog entry we will take a look at some of the key elements in OUM that help keep projects aligned with the organization’s strategic goals.

Whenever we talk strategy in OUM we turn our attention to the Envision Focus Area.  The development and maintenance of enterprise level IT strategy, architecture, and governance done in Envision helps to ensure IT delivery is in alignment with the organization’s strategy.  Ideally, every enterprise should be executing the processes in Envision or similar processes. 

I am going to get on my soapbox at this point and say, because the processes in Envision provide the glue between the business and IT strategies, true benefits realization will be very difficult (or nearly impossible)to achieve without an Envision or similar engagement.  We discussed in the first blog entry of this series how Envision helps ensure projects will align with an organization’s objectives by providing the processes to support effective portfolio management.   We know that organizations who focus only at the project level will wind up with a collection of stovepipe projects that have limited ability to address the organization’s strategic needs or provide return on investment.  We also know that project teams starting out without an enterprise IT strategy and architecture, or the appropriate IT governance in place will often find it necessary to gather enough information to establish the project’s objectives, scope, and estimates for the solution.  This can cause significant project delays and possibly lead to costly re-work. 

In order to understand the connection between the artifacts produced in the Envision Focus Area and how they relate directly to the tasks in the Implement Focus Area, project teams should be aware of the Envision Touch Points found in the OUM Method Overview page.  These touch points are potential prerequisites from Envision work products to Implement tasks.  As we know, an Envision engagement does not always precede an Implement engagement and, therefore, these touch points are not always available to the project as artifacts.  The project team must then determine the degree to which the Envision tasks should be executed to generate the necessary information to proceed.

The project manager should also look to the Envision artifacts when establishing the project structure to make sure the project is set up to achieve the expected benefits of the project.  During the Project Start Up phase of the OUM Manage Focus Area, resources are allocated to achieve specific objectives, satisfy needs, and set expectations through a planned and organized approach.   The project manager should start with the enterprise IT strategy and governance when formulating this approach, and then document the approach as part of the Project Management Framework (the precursor to the Project Management Plan).

As you can tell, I am a big fan of Envision.  I put a great deal of value in this focus area of OUM because I have seen so many projects that benefited by having a view of the big picture.  But, if you disagree with my assessment of how important enterprise-level work is to benefits realization, please let me know in the comments section.  For some really good advice on the role of an Oracle Enterprise Architect and how they can benefit a project, check out a blog entry written by my colleague called “When to Call an Oracle Enterprise Architect”.

This wraps up the series on PMI’s 2012 Pulse of the Profession.  I hope you enjoyed reading these entries as much as I did writing them.  It’s been a great opportunity to demonstrate how OUM is in-tune with leading industry trends.  The series has generated quite a bit of inspiration for future blog entries. So please keep watching this blog, as well as our LinkedIn Group and Twitter for OUM information, tips, and techniques.  If you have a suggestion for a future blog entry or have a question, you can reach us at ominfo_us@oracle.com.

Tuesday May 01, 2012

OUM and PMI's Pulse of the Profession: The Fourth In a Series

Welcome to the fourth blog entry of the series on PMI’s 2012 Pulse of the Profession .  The previous blog entry focused on Key Finding #3: As organizations continue to strive for agility, change management and project risk management will become even more important.   That entry discussed how change management and risk management s are documented in the OUM Manage Focus Area, as well as woven into the fabric of the Envision and Implement Focus Areas.

In this blog entry we will look at PMI’s Key Finding #4: Organizations will renew their focus on talent development as they look to grow and gain competitive advantage in new markets.  This finding shows a continued awareness that as we look at improving the project management maturity and capabilities of an organization, we must take a three pronged approach of people, processes, and tools.  We know that even with the best tools in place to support our projects, it is still just as important to have proven processes, and a well-trained and informed project team. 

Previous blog entries focused on how OUM supports organizational development by providing processes and tools in the form of content, guidance, templates, and samples.  Since we are focusing on the people part of the equation in the form of talent development, I thought this would be a good opportunity to talk about the OUM Training Program.

OUM Training Program

The OUM Training Program helps to ensure that individuals in various roles have the level of delivery knowledge required for them to competently perform their job.  The OUM training program takes an incremental approach in which the courses are arranged in a series of levels.  This approach allows students to build on their knowledge of OUM in manageable increments by progressing from the foundation level courses to those that cover more in-depth material.  You are probably not surprised that we take an iterative and incremental approach to OUM training!

Where to Find OUM Training

Each level of OUM training is available as a self-service, self-paced training course online, except for the Level 3 course which is delivered in the classroom for a fee.  The OUM training can be accessed as follows:

Oracle OPN Partners at the level of Diamond, Platinum or Gold can access the online training through the secure OUM Training Page on Oracle University.

Oracle Customers enrolled in the OUM Customer Program may obtain access to the OUM online training by sending an email to oum-training_us@oracle.com.

Oracle Employees can find the links to the training through the Global Methods internal MyOracle site on the ‘Training’ tab.

Partners and Customers are able to take the Level 3 – Gathering Requirements with OUM course from our partner DevelopMentor.  DevelopMentor has broad training experience and extensive knowledge of the Unified Process, use case practices, and agile development techniques.  For more information and class schedule, please visit their website.

OUM Specialization

We recently launched an OUM Specialization through the Oracle Partner Network.  The OUM Specialization recognizes partner organizations that have proven their extensive understanding of OUM.  Partners who are interested in finding out more about the OUM Specialization can go to the OUM Knowledge Zone on the Oracle Partner Network and click on the ‘Specialize’ tab.

If you have not had an opportunity to take the OUM training, I encourage you to take a look at the various courses and begin your learning with the Level 1 – Overview and Awareness course.  If you have any questions about the OUM Training Program, feel free to email us at oum-training_us@oracle.com.

Stay tuned for the next entry in the series which will address Key Finding #5: Despite tight economic conditions, organizations have been and will continue to increase their focus on benefits realization success metrics.

Tuesday Apr 24, 2012

OUM and PMI's Pulse of the Profession: The Third in a Series

Welcome to the third blog entry of the series on PMI’s 2012 Pulse of the Profession .  The previous blog entry focused on Key Finding #2: The desire for organizational agility will also lead to increased use of iterative and/or incremental project management methods such as agile and extreme.   That entry discussed how agile methodologies, such as OUM, help to enable agility because they are designed to significantly reduce project risk and deliver value much earlier in the lifecycle than traditional waterfall methodologies.

In this blog entry we will jump into a look at PMI’s Key Finding #3:  As organizations continue to strive for agility, change management and project risk management will become even more important.  It is apparent from the survey results that even with a move to more agile approaches, project management fundamentals are still important in managing a project to a successful conclusion.   In OUM, both change management and risk management are specifically addressed from the perspective of the project manager’s role in the Manage Focus Area.  Since change management and risk management are vital to the success of a project, the concepts are also intertwined into many of the principles and guidance in the in the Implement and Envision Focus Areas.

First up is a look at change management, which is a key aspect of agile methodologies like OUM, because such methodologies recognize the reality that requirements will evolve throughout the life cycle of a software project.  This does not mean the project should succumb to project killers like scope creep or gold plating.  It does mean that the necessary change management controls need to be in place that so we can be proactive in identifying potential changes, analyzing the impact of the change , and determining the appropriate trade-offs and alternatives. 

In OUM, the change management controls and procedures are established in Project Start Up (the first phase of the Manage Focus Area) as part of the [SM] Scope Management process.  This means the scope change management procedures for the project are established early in the project lifecycle.  These procedures then serve as the basis for responding to possible scope changes throughout the life of the project.

The heart of OUM, as with any agile method, is the iterative and incremental approach.  The iterative and incremental approach helps to allow scope changes to be proactively managed because it breaks the development cycle into shorter durations and allows for more frequent customer feedback.  Potential changes are identified early on in the development cycle, when there is still time and budget to make corrections.  When potential changes are identified, the project manager and team can be proactive in following the scope change management procedures established in Project Start Up to evaluate and deal with the scope change.

Risk management is also inherent in the iterative and incremental approach.  We talk about OUM being risk-focused because a key goal of each iteration is to identify and reduce the most significant project risks.  This helps ensure that the project team addresses the most critical risks as early as possible in the project lifecycle.

Risk management in OUM can start at the enterprise level in the [ER] Envision Roadmap process in Envision.  This process contains the ER.120 – Identify and Mitigate Future State Risks task in which possible technology and business risks related to the future state are identified. This may be a list of identified architectural improvement options or a list of candidate projects identified to realize the future state.  Also as part of this task, a recommendation for each risk is developed which provides for a future state that represents the lowest risk path to a lower cost infrastructure that improves the ability of IT to support the key business and technical requirements. 

Risk management for a given project starts during Project Start Up in the [RKM] Risk Management process.  In the beginning of the project, the project manager is responsible for documenting, gaining agreement on, and communicating a structured Risk Management Plan as well as developing a Risk Management System for identifying, documenting and mitigating project risks throughout the lifecycle of the project.  The list of risks developed during the Envision Roadmap can serve as a starting point for identifying the risks specific to the project.

During the project lifecycle, OUM recommends first starting to work on the most complex requirements or use cases, or those use cases that are the least well defined, or by creating prototypes to find out if specific technical solutions are feasible.  As the project progresses, each iteration should be planned and executed to reduce and/or eliminate specific project risks.  In this manner, the project’s overall risk will be systematically drawn down to zero by the end of the project.

There have been numerous studies and stories in the recent press that show that a lack of change management and/or risk management is a major factor in project failure.  Therefore, both change management and risk management guidance is documented in the Manage Focus Area, as well as being woven into the fabric of the Envision and Implement Focus Areas.   Also, the OUM Level 3 Gathering Requirements course contains in-depth coverage of scope definition and risk management from an OUM perspective.

Stay tuned for the next entry in the series which will address Key Finding #4: Organizations will renew their focus on talent development as they look to grow and gain competitive advantage in new markets.    In the meantime, you may want to look at the Project Management in OUM and Tips for Project Managers documents, which contain practical tips and advice on using OUM from experienced project managers.  Both of these documents are found in the References section of the Manage Focus Area. 

Tuesday Apr 17, 2012

OUM and PMI's Pulse of the Profession: Second in a Series

Welcome to the second of the series on PMI’s 2012 Pulse of the Profession .  The previous blog entry focused on Key Finding #1: Tight economic conditions will continue to force the issue of strong project portfolio management.   We saw how project portfolio management is supported in OUM by the Envision and Manage Focus Areas.   In this blog entry we will take a look at PMI’s Key Finding #2: The desire for organizational agility will also lead to increased use of iterative and/or incremental project management methods such as agile and extreme. 

The first thing we need to do is define “organizational agility”.  If you do a search on the term, you come up with a wide variety of definitions which essentially boil down to this: the ability an organization to recognize changes (whether they be threats or opportunities), and respond to these changes in a timely, cost-effective, and appropriate manner.  Notice there are two parts to the definition:  part one is the ability to recognize the need for change; the other part is being effective in the response to the change.

If an organization as a whole is striving to be agile, it makes sense that their IT organization must also be agile. In many cases the IT organization not only supports the overall organization’s agility, but drives it by introducing enabling tools and technologies.  On the other hand, IT can also inhibit an organization’s ability to be agile by being late to deliver IT solutions, slow to react to change, and/or not being in tune with the business’s changing requirements.

Agile methods, like OUM, help to enable IT and organizational agility because they are designed to significantly reduce project risk, and deliver value much earlier in the lifecycle than traditional waterfall methods.  The time it takes to get working software into users hands can be accelerated by releasing important features first, and pushing off the lower priority items to later releases.  This in turn, provides a rapid improvement of an organization’s capabilities and/or competitive position.  Agile methodologies also encourage regular involvement by business stakeholders, which helps ensure the IT solutions match the organization’s objectives.

As PMI indicates in Key Finding #2, iterative and incremental development is at the heart of any agile methodology.  OUM recognizes the advantages of an iterative and incremental approach to development and deployment of information systems.  Any of the tasks within OUM may be iterated. Tasks may be iterated to increase quality of the work products to a desired level, to add sufficient level of detail, or to refine and expand the work products on the basis of user feedback.

In addition to having an agile iterative and incremental development approach, OUM also:

Is flexible and scalable – OUM is designed to support a broad range of project types. As such, it must be flexible and scalable. The appropriate point of balance for a given project will vary based on a number of project risk and scale factors. The method has been developed with the intent that the approach for a given project be “built up” from a core set of activities to implement an appropriate level of discipline, rather than tailored down.

Allows for frequent customer interaction and feedback – OUM encourages regular sessions with stakeholders to review and confirm priorities, and ensure the project continues to meet the overall objectives.  Through several prototyping and testing tasks, business stakeholders are given the opportunity to review the development work completed to that point, and provide feedback in time to catch missed requirements and/or possible errors.

Employs a layered planning approach – OUM recognizes that plans need to be scalable for different project sizes and complexity, and contain the right level of detail for the current planning horizon.  The layered approach to planning an OUM project allows project teams to take an agile approach to their immediate project tasks, while keeping a focus on the major milestones, controls, and objectives of the project. 

Encourages the use of an empowered team – OUM encourages cross-functional and technical team training and knowledge sharing.  In addition, the use of OUM’s common language and visual models (use cases and business process models) throughout the project helps ensure the development team and other project stakeholders are on the same page, which promotes team communication and collaborative decision making.

Integrates testing throughout the development lifecycle – Testing in OUM starts early in the project, and developed components are integrated and tested as an integrated set as soon as possible. This allows for early discovery of errors that eventually reduces the risk of project delays that often are caused by heightened error detection at the end of the project.

Promotes an architecture-centric approach –  People will sometimes question whether spending time and energy on architecture is compatible with an agile approach.  The answer is that a robust architecture is crucial to the project’s success since it is the blueprint upon which requirements are transformed into a working system.   Poor architecture decisions can result in software that is not stable, is unable to support business requirements, could require substantial re-work, may not accommodate future development, or could even prevent the application from working properly in a production environment.  Nothing about poor architecture sounds too agile, does it?

I could go on for a while about OUM’s agile underpinnings; the bottom line is that OUM supports all kinds of projects – from the very lean and adaptable, to those that require more rigor and discipline.  If you want to find out more about how OUM can be applied in an agile manner, check out the Scrum guidance which includes the “Managing an OUM Project Using Scrum” whitepaper, User Story Task and Template, Product Backlog and Sprint Backlog Templates, and Scrum to OUM Mapping.  For information on OUM’s layered approach to project planning, the “Planning a Project Using OUM” whitepaper contains guidance on OUM’s layered approach to project planning.  The OUM Read Me First is a valuable reference if you want to become familiar with the method’s philosophy, key concepts, and principles.  Finally, if you have not already done so I recommend reading an excellent blog entry written by my colleague called Build Up or Tailor Down.

Stay tuned for the next blog entry in the series when we will explore PMI’s Key Finding #3:  As organizations continue to strive for agility, change management and project risk management will become even more important.

Monday Apr 09, 2012

OUM and PMI's 2012 Pulse of the Profession: The First in a Series

Taken your pulse lately?  Recently, PMI released their 2012 Pulse of the Profession which contains five key findings based on the results of their global survey:

  1. Tight economic conditions will continue to force the issue of strong project portfolio management.
  2. The desire for organizational agility will also lead to increased use of iterative and/or incremental project management methods such as agile and extreme.
  3. As organizations continue to strive for agility, change management and project risk management will become even more important.
  4. Organizations will renew their focus on talent development as they look to grow and gain competitive advantage in new markets.
  5. Despite tight economic conditions, organizations have been and will continue to increase their focus on benefits realization success metrics.

Since of PMI’s 2012 key findings are highly relevant to the ever expanding Oracle ecosystem, I thought it would be beneficial to put together a series of blog entries to discuss each of PMI’s key finding in the context of OUM.  Through the entries, I hope you find some useful tips and techniques you can apply to your projects right away.

Let’s jump into Key Finding #1:  Tight economic conditions will continue to force the issue of strong project portfolio management, which is defined by Wikipedia as “methods for analyzing and collectively managing a group of current or proposed projects based on numerous key characteristics.” 

We all know there has never been a time when organizations intentionally threw money away on frivolous projects.  During times of constrained and uncertain economic conditions, it is even more critical to make sure money is allocated to projects and programs which will provide the most business value and highest return on investment.  When guidance is needed for project identification and prioritization, we look to where projects are born in OUM:  The Envision Focus Area.

The Envision Focus Area comprises the areas OUM that deal with development and maintenance of enterprise level IT strategy, architecture, and governance.  Every project that affects an organization’s IT landscape should have its origins here.   Envision also assists in the transition from enterprise-level planning and strategy activities to the identification and initiation of specific projects further supported by the Manage and Implement focus areas.

I think the Envision Focus Area is one of the areas that make OUM unique in that it addresses the business at the enterprise level, rather than just at the tactical project level.  You can read more about the Envision Focus Area and its touch points to the Implement and Manage Focus Areas in the OUM Overview section, as well as by reading the detailed content in the Envision view itself.  

This brings us to the Manage Focus Area, which is the standard framework and reference guide that provides a consistent and repeatable approach for managing Oracle-related information technology projects.  The Manage Focus Area includes guidance for managing both projects and programs.  While there is no substitute for good project management skills, Manage is essentially a tool that can be used to facilitate and support the program or project management process.  For more details about Manage and its relationship to Envision and Implement, check out the OUM Overview section and the in-depth guidance found in the Manage view.

Stay tuned for the next blog entry in the series which will focus on PMI’s Key Finding #2: The desire for organizational agility will also lead to increased use of iterative and/or incremental project management methods such as agile and extreme.  In the meantime, please provide your feedback on your experience with the Envision and Manage Focus Areas.

Monday Mar 19, 2012

Developing an Implementation Plan with Iterations by Russ Pitts

Developing an Implementation Plan with Iterations by Russ Pitts 

Ok, so you have come to grips with understanding that applying the iterative concept, as defined by OUM is simply breaking up the project effort you have estimated for each phase into one or more six week calendar duration blocks of work.

Idea being the business user(s) or key recipient(s) of work product(s) being developed never go longer than six weeks without having some sort of review or prototyping of the work results for an iteration…”think-a-little”, “do-a-little”, and “show-a-little” in a six week or less timeframe…ideally the business user(s) or key recipients(s) are involved throughout.

 

You also understand the OUM concept that you only plan for that which you have knowledge of. The concept further defined, a project plan initially is developed at a high-level, and becomes more detailed as project knowledge grows. Agreeing to this concept means you also have to admit to the fallacy that one can plan with precision beyond six weeks into a project…Anything beyond six weeks is a best guess in most cases when dealing with software implementation projects.

 

Project planning, as defined by OUM begins with the Implementation Plan view, which is a very high-level perspective of the effort estimated for each of the five OUM phases, as well as the number of iterations within each phase.

 

You might wonder how can you predict the number of iterations for each phase at this early point in the project. Remember project planning is not an exact science, and initially is high-level and abstract in nature, and then becomes more detailed and precise as the project proceeds.

 

So where do you start in defining iterations for each phase for a project?

 

The following are three easy steps to initially define the number of iterations for each phase:

 

Step 1 => Start with identifying the known factors…

 

…Prior to starting a project you should know:

 

 <!--[if !supportLists]-->· <!--[endif]-->The agreed upon time-period for an iteration (e.g 6 weeks, or 4 weeks, or…) within a phase (recommend keeping iteration time-period consistent within a phase, if not for the entire project)

 

<!--[if !supportLists]-->· <!--[endif]-->The number of resources available for the project

 

<!--[if !supportLists]-->· <!--[endif]-->The number of total number of man-day (effort) you have estimated for each of the five OUM phases of the project

 

<!--[if !supportLists]-->· <!--[endif]-->The number of work days for a week

 

Step 2 => Calculate the man-days of effort required for an iteration within a phase…

 

Lets assume for the sake of this example there are 10 project resources, and you have estimated 2,536 man-days of work effort which will need to occur for the elaboration phase of the project. Let’s also assume a week for this project is defined as 5 business days, and that each iteration in the elaboration phase will last a calendar duration of 6 weeks. A simple calculation is performed to calculate the daily burn rate for a single iteration, which produces a result of…

 

((Number of resources * days per week) * duration of iteration) = Number of days required per iteration

 

((10 resources * 5 days/week) * 6 weeks) = 300 man days of effort required per iteration

 

 

Step 3 => Calculate the number of iterations that can occur within a phase

 

Next calculate the number of iterations that can occur for the amount of man-days of effort estimated for the phase being considered…

 

(number of man-days of effort estimated / number of man-days required per iteration) = # of iterations for phase

 

(2,536 man-days of estimated effort for phase / 300 man days of effort required per iteration) = 8.45 iterations, which should be rounded to a whole number such as 9 iterations*

 

*Note - It is important to note this is an approximate calculation, not an exact science. This particular example is a simple one, which assumes all resources are utilized throughout the phase, including tech resources, etc. (rounding down or up to a whole number based on project factor considerations). It is also best in many cases to round up to higher number, as this provides some calendar scheduling contingency.

 

Thursday Mar 01, 2012

When to call an Oracle Enterprise Architect in on your project

When you aren’t sure about your physical health, what do you do?  Well, you may call in a doctor, maybe even a “specialist”.

As a Project Manager, and a PMP, I understand the need to “protect the project”.  Risks should be mitigated early on so that they don’t become issues.  So “When do I call in an Oracle Enterprise Architect (OEA) on my project?”  What signs should I look for to indicate that an OEA is needed?

Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to work with Oracle Consulting PM’s, Customers and Partners who saw the value of having an Oracle Enterprise Architect as a “trusted advisor” to the Project or Program Manager.   But some Project Managers may not be aware of what an OEA does, or when it is advisable to call an OEA in on a project.

The Oracle Unified Method (OUM) includes an Oracle Enterprise Architecture Development Process (OADP) View.  This view includes only tasks from the OUM Envision focus area. However, many of these tasks are “touch points” or prerequisites to tasks in the Implement focus area.  The expertise of an OEA is important on a Software Implementation project.

Did you know that the OADP View in OUM Envision was authored by a global group of Oracle Enterprise Architects (OEA)?  These subject matter experts were some of the earliest contributors to OUM and they continue to refine the guidance that OUM provides for Enterprise Architecture.


What is the role of an Oracle Enterprise Architect
An OEA does five specific things – that are unique to the OEA role:

  • Thinks in time (Current State / Future State / and more importantly – Intermediary or Transitional State)
  • Examines “Multidimensional Processing” (People, Process, Strategy and Technology)
  • Brings together Multi-pillar Architectures (Apps, Tech,  Hardware and Software)
  • Performs “Environmental Contextualization” – The fit of the System Under Discussion (SuD) into overall ecosystem – not just designing the architecture in and of itself
  • Provides Trade-off Analysis for Best-fit architecture (Architecture alternatives: balance Business, Organizational, Financial and Technical factors)

An OEA participates in specialized training that examines the current state architecture, discovers the Business Objectives and Strategy of the Enterprise and then develops future state architectures and practical roadmaps, that could be used to achieve those business objectives.


When to call an Enterprise Architect
So, under what conditions, does an Oracle Software implementation project or program benefit from the role of an Oracle Enterprise Architect (OEA)?

What are some of the characteristics of projects in the Enterprise IT Portfolio that would gain value and produce quantifiable return on investment, thereby truly benefitting from an OEA as a trusted advisor?

In general, a project that has a high level of complexity could benefit from an OEA.  This complexity could be technical, architectural or business, or some combination these.

Here is a list of some common project scenarios that provide increased benefit to the business by utilizing the skills of an Oracle Enterprise Architect as an implementation project trusted advisor:

  • Project includes multiple Oracle products - from different product families
  • Large scale combined application and technology projects
  • Project duration is more than 1 year
  • Project budget is in excess of $1M
  • Project includes integration with more than ten legacy systems
    Composite Applications includes several of those WebCenter Portals, Service Oriented Architecture, BPM Processes, Enterprise Security and Enterprise Applications such as CRM, Financials or HR.


Of course many software implementation scenarios could benefit from an OAE as a trusted advisor.  The above list includes just a few of the project scenarios that really should consider including an OEA.

Value of Enterprise Architecture and an OEA to the project
Having a framework (such as Oracle's OEAF) and a well defined process for Enterprise Architecture development (OADP) is of critical importance. Together they help produce artifacts (work products) that ultimately align technology goals and initiatives to business strategy.

An OEA participates in specialized training that examines the current state architecture, discovers the Business Objectives and Strategy of the Enterprise and then develops future state architectures and practical roadmaps, that could be used to achieve those business objectives.

Enterprise architecture is the alignment of IT and IT assets to support business strategy. By achieving the business strategy of the enterprise, we have increased the business value of the enterprise.  In order to really identify the true value of enterprise architecture we need to understand how we measure business value and develop a portfolio of implementation projects that help us reach achievable and measurable goals.

The OEA contributes to the success of a defined business strategy.  They help Software implementation project teams execute on a roadmap.  Each of these projects is part of a portfolio of implementation projects that combine to realize the defined future state architecture.  During the execution of the roadmap, they help to deliver the IT initiatives that provide measurable returns to the business.

The OEA acts as an advisor to the Project or Program Manager.  They keep the various functional partitions in alignment with the technical partitions, thereby assuring the OUM Principle of remaining “Architecture Centric”.

As the OEA examines the individual organizational units within the enterprise they can identify how the unit has performed by quantitatively measuring achievable goals as defined by the business for each unit. True business value may seem to be subjectively measured.  However, looking at the requirements of the System under Discussion (SuD) and determining the impact to the business with measurable goals, is more quantifiable.

As a project manager, I can examine the project profile and determine if it meets the characteristics outlined above, if it does… Well, who am I going to call?  I will call an Oracle Enterprise Architect (OEA).

What are your thoughts on this topic?

For more information about Oracle Enterprise Architecture Services, look on http://www.oracle.com/us/products/consulting/enterprise-architecture-services/index.html 

Many thanks to Ajay Ailawadhi and Paul Silverstein - Oracle Consulting Advanced Technology Services, ESG organization for contributing to this blog entry.

Thursday Jan 12, 2012

The Project Management Plan (PMP) in OUM - Creation and Evolution

According to the Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) — Fourth Edition, the Project Management Plan is defined as a formal, approved document that defines how the project is executed, monitored and controlled.  In OUM, the Project Management Plan (better known as the PMP) defines the overall project management strategies and approaches applied to the project.  Since the PMP is considered to be the most important artifact created by the project manager, it is important to understand how the PMP is created and evolved in OUM.

Creation

The creation of the PMP is started with the Project Management Framework in the task BT.070 – Create Project Management Framework, which is part of the OUM Manage Focus Area’s Project Startup Phase.  The project manager creates the Project Management Framework, along with the project sponsor and other stakeholders.  At this point in the project, the Project Management Framework represents the PMP at the strategic level.  In fact, the Project Management Framework can be thought of as the initial or high-level version of the PMP. 

Evolution and Refinement

After the Project Management Framework is created early in the Project Start Up phase, it is then used as a key prerequisite for each of the OUM Manage process plans – Scope Change Management Plan, Quality Management Plan, Risk Management Plan, etc .  The PMP is refined in an iterative fashion through input and approval from the various project stakeholders and subject matter experts as the project progresses.  This means the PMP is not a static document, but is evolved to become the project management artifact that details the tools and approach for each of the 13 OUM Manage processes.

Need More Info?

For more information on how the PMP evolves from the Project Management Framework, check out the BT.070 Task - Create Project Management Framework in OUM 5.5.

Wednesday Dec 14, 2011

Build Up Or Tailor Down?

OUM is intended to be highly scalable. In our industry today we hear lots of buzzwords around Agile or Agility. We see many methods in today’s marketplace that have adopted an agile approach to software development. The Global Methods team is in strong agreement with the tenets put forth in the “Manifesto for Agile Software Development.” We also see a debate in our industry about agility versus discipline which has been well framed in the book “Balancing Agility and Discipline: A Guide for the Perplexed” by Barry Boehm and Richard Turner.

 

To help OUM’s users determine just how much of OUM they should employ on a given project, we have adopted many of the philosophies and conclusions put forth in the book. It has helped to guide us in developing OUM and also in developing the guidance related to using OUM. By Boehm and Turner’s definition, at its highest level, OUM is a plan-driven method, which could be tailored down by an expert, to fit a particular situation. However, as the book points out, non experts tend to play it safe under these circumstances, and often tend to use to much or all of a method “at considerable unnecessary expense.”

Therefore, we’ve taken the advice of Boehm and Turner and adopted the philosophy of “Build it Up – Don’t Tailor it Down.” OUM’s Implement Core Workflow, along with OUM’s diverse set of views, are intended to support this philosophy.

In addition to the workflow and views, we advise you to follow 4 steps when considering the tasks to include in your OUM based workplan.

The first step is to start from a core set of tasks. We recommend that you consider using the OUM Implement Core Workflow for this purpose along with an OUM view that best matches the needs of your project. Remember, though, that the views tend to be a superset of tasks related to a particular solution, discipline, or technology. Therefore, the core workflow and views should be used together to achieve the right balance for your project.

Further information on tailoring OUM can be found in this White Paper: http://my.oracle.com/content/native/cnt723708

An external version of this White Paper will be published early in 2012 along with recorded training for Oracle Consulting, along with our Partner and Customer community. 

 

Wednesday Nov 23, 2011

Stakeholder Management in OUM

Where is Stakeholder Management in OUM?  Stakeholder Management typically falls into the purview of the Project Manager, which means much of the associated guidance is found in the OUM Manage Focus Area (a.k.a. Manage).  There is also a good deal of content related to the discipline of Stakeholder Management contained in the Implement Focus Area (a.k.a Implement).

There is no process in Manage named Stakeholder Management, but this “touch point” can be found in a variety of other processes including Bid Transition (BT), Communication Management (CMM) and Organizational Change Management (OCHM).

         Stakeholder Management starts in the Bid Transition process with Stakeholder Analysis.

         This Stakeholder Analysis is used to build the Project Team Communication Plan in the Communication Management process.

         Stakeholder Management should be executed during the Execution and Control phase.  For example, as issues are resolved, the project manager should take the action item to follow up with the affected stakeholders to ensure they are aware that the issue has been resolved.

       The broader topic of Stakeholder Management is also addressed very thoroughly in the Organizational Change Management process in the Implement Focus Area, which is a touch point to the Organizational Change Management process in Manage.

Check it out and let me know your thoughts!

Tuesday Nov 15, 2011

OUM is Flexible and Scalable

Flexible and Scalable

Traditionally, projects have been focused on satisfying the contents of a requirements document or rigorously conforming to an existing set of work products. Often, especially where iterative and incremental techniques have not been employed, these requirements may be inaccurate, the previous deliverables may be flawed, or the business needs may have changed since the start of the project. Fitness for business purpose, derived from the Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM) framework, refers to the focus of delivering necessary functionality within a required timebox. The solution can be more rigorously engineered later, if such an approach is acceptable. Our collective experience shows that applying fit-for-purpose criteria, rather than tight adherence to requirements specifications, results in an information system that more closely meets the needs of the business.

In OUM, this principle is extended to refer to the execution of the method processes themselves. Project managers and practitioners are encouraged to scale OUM to be fit-for-purpose for a given situation. It is rarely appropriate to execute every activity within OUM. OUM provides guidance for determining the core set of activities to be executed, the level of detail targeted in those activities and their associated tasks, and the frequency and type of end user deliverables. The project workplan should be developed from this core. The plan should then be scaled up, rather than tailored down, to the level of discipline appropriate to the identified risks and requirements. Even at the task level, models and work products should be completed only to the level of detail required for them to be fit-for-purpose within the current iteration or, at the project level, to suit the business needs of the enterprise and to meet the contractual obligations that govern the project.

OUM provides well defined templates for many of its tasks. Use of these templates is optional as determined by the context of the project. Work products can easily be a model in a repository, a prototype, a checklist, a set of application code, or, in situations where a high degree of agility is warranted, simply the tacit knowledge contained in the brain of an analyst or practitioner. For further reading on agility, see Balancing Agility and Discipline: A guide fro the Perplexed.

Thursday Oct 06, 2011

Iteration vs. Oscillation

What’s the difference between iteration and oscillation?  This is important distinction for an OUM practitioner to be able to articulate – that while OUM is indeed an iterative method; it does not mean you are endlessly oscillating on the same tasks like a washing machine stuck on the rinse cycle.   Since properly applying iterative development principles is vital to an OUM practitioner’s success, this blog explains why, in OUM, iteration doesn’t equate to oscillation.

WHAT IT MEANS TO BE ITERATIVE:  Let’s first understand iterations. In OUM (or any other iterative approach), you divide each phase into periods of time, usually from 2 to 6 weeks (some prefer 2~4 weeks), called iterations. During each of these periods, the team executes tasks in order to achieve the iteration's goal(s).  Therefore, the term, "iterative" means that work on an OUM project is divided into a series of "iterations" that are essentially run as mini-projects.

ARE WE THERE YET?  Now we have a solid understanding of iterations, but it still doesn’t completely explain why the project team isn’t oscillating into eternity.  The key here is that “iterative development” also includes the concept of growing the system incrementally.

WHAT IT MEANS TO BE INCREMENTAL:  Turning our attention to incremental, this means that the system is developed in chunks, iteration by iteration.  Each iteration results in an increment, which is a release of the system that contains added or improved functionality compared with the previous release.  At the end of an iteration, the resulting increment of functionality is presented to users and requirements are re-evaluated so as to plan the next iteration.

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER:  Putting this all together, “iterative development” in OUM means that the system is developed through a series of mini-projects (iterative), and in smaller portions at a time (incremental), allowing the project team to take advantage of what was learned during earlier development, and incorporate feedback from project stakeholders.  As the project progresses, the emphasis given to a particular task shifts from phase to phase so that the appropriate phase milestones are met, and ultimately the project’s overall goals are achieved.

ARE WE THERE YET (AGAIN)?  You can see that an OUM project team will be working in iterations, growing the software increment by increment, and finally achieving a stable solution that real end-users can employ.  This is much different than being caught in an endless re-run of the movie “Groundhog Day”, forever oscillating on the same tasks; achieving nothing. Now that you’ve read this blog entry, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the differences between iteration and oscillation.

Wednesday Sep 14, 2011

Why not use “just enough” OUM?

Sometimes I hear people say, “Oh, OUM is great, but I’m not sure I can use it for the work I’m doing”. I ask “Why not?”, often I hear one of three answers;

  1. I’m working as part of a staff augmentation contract, and there really isn’t a formal “project” for me within the Enterprise.
  1. The Enterprise has chosen to use their internal method for this project.
  1. Oracle Consulting is not leading the project or the Partner leading the project for the Enterprise is using a proprietary method.

Of course, there are many other reasons why someone chooses not use OUM for Oracle product implementations, or other work with oracle products.  These responses make me ask the question “Why not”?   

The Enterprise is using their internal method

Maybe the Enterprise has an “in house” method they’d like to use.  Of course, not every Oracle product implementation project requires that you make extensive use of OUM. If the other method seems capable of helping identify and manage risks, improves repeatability and quality, and encourages knowledge capture and reuse, maybe you don't need OUM. 

However there may be situations, where you realize that the method doesn’t have adequate support for the type of work you’re doing.  What if the project includes a technical requirement to implement a Service Oriented Architecture the first time?  Perhaps the method you’ve been asked to use isn’t SOA enabled?  If you wanted to SOA Enable that method you might suggest that the Enterprise look at OUM’s SOA Engineering Planning View.  You might simply review the OUM SOA Core workflow view to determine additional tasks that you might recommend as candidates for the project plan using “just enough” OUM. 

An Oracle Partner leading the project using a proprietary method or you are an Oracle Consultant assigned as an augmentation to staff.

There should be some agreement between the stakeholders the consultant(s) and the partner, regarding the work they are to do on the project.  So I ask, why couldn’t you use “Just enough” of OUM to make sure you have a solid agreement on working together on the project, and the assigned resource responsibilities?  Could you use a portion of the OUM BT.070 Project Management Framework to agree and document how the project is organized?

If you’re assigned to do some work within the Enterprise but not as part of a large project, maybe you could prioritize the work.  You could use a MoSCoW list (RD.045) to list out the things that you Must do, Should do, or Could do, in your role.  How about using a Business and System Objectives (RD.001)?  this could improve communication and discuss with the stakeholders regarding the work, you are being asked to do (and what you won’t be doing).  No matter how big the job, scoping the effort and having an agreement will often avoid misunderstandings.  It also gives a definition of what it looks like to call the work “finished”.

What if you’re writing some custom components that are fairly complex and architecturally significant?  Can you gather the detailed functional requirements using some OUM?  Could you prepare a Use Case Model (RD.023 Use Case Diagram and RD.024 Use Case Details) just to verify your requirements?  Maybe you don’t need a detailed “fully dressed” use case.  Perhaps a high-level use case would work.  After all, you may need to develop some test scripts, right?  Why not use the use case details to get to the test case details.  Why not start with the answers to the test, and then develop the custom components, extensions, or integrations?

When you use OUM think about using “just enough” to facilitate communication, clarify requirements, and protect the project. You’ll find yourself using the portions of OUM that make sense for the work at hand.  After all, it isn’t an all or nothing question.  As you’ve read before in the OUM Read Me First “Do not serve the method; make it serve you.”

I’ve chosen to highlight only a few OUM tasks in this blog entry there are many others that could be considered in addition to these depending on your scenario.

Using too much of a method, is just as bad as not using any method at all.   What are your thoughts on this topic?  I look forward to reading your ideas and suggestions.

Monday Aug 15, 2011

The Tree

 

A couple of weekends ago, my wife and I were out for a bicycle ride on the Washington & Old Dominion (W&OD) - a paved, multi-use trail that stretches 45 miles from Washington, D.C. to Purcellville, VA.

We were westbound on a section of the trail between Route 7 and Dry Mill Rd. We were coming up behind a runner when the runner stopped suddenly and looked up. The upper two-thirds of a dead locust tree crashed down across the path. The tree fell harmlessly to the ground, but lay across a section with high-sloped sides. The tree had completely blocked the trail. Our initial attempts made it obvious that we didn't have enough muscle power to move the 10-inch diameter main trunk.

Soon other cyclists and runners began to arrive. Most began to dismount - except one guy on a shiny new $5K+ bike who didn't seem interested in helping. Ideas were quickly tossed back and forth about how to get the thing out of the way. I even heard my wife say something like, "This tree isn't going to get moved unless everyone helps." (wink, wink, nudge, nudge…).

As we organized to lift the main trunk, we noticed that part of the trunk was covered with a vine. It didn't look like poison ivy, but you never know. One woman said that she wasn't allergic to poison ivy, so she'd lift that section. One person with a bad back volunteered to clear smaller debris. By working together, in 10 minutes we had cleared that entire mess and we were back on our machines.

As we rode up the trail, we talked about what we had observed. We chuckled about the able-bodied guy who seemed willing to stand there and watch everyone else clear the path for him. However, for the most part we were impressed by the way this ad hoc team had worked together.

Of course, I began to pontificate about how this experience was an analog to software projects. We had been part of a self-organizing team. Each participant had different strengths and had contributed where they were best able. Some used their strength to lift. Some contributed their immunity. Others came behind and cleaned up. This simple project hadn’t required a detailed plan, but someone had worked to remove obstacles (i.e. "This tree isn't going to get moved unless… ").

If we’d had many trees to move, we probably would have wanted a plan to tell us which trees to move and when. We would have wanted to be able to tell the W&OD trail users when they would be able to use each section of the trail. We might have organized a brief planning meeting before moving each tree to be sure that we were being as efficient as possible.

To be sure we were on track, we would periodically ask everyone to briefly describe what they had done, what they were planning to do, and what was stopping them from being effective. That might have allowed us to discover that one team member was worried about scratching their new bicycle, but we certainly would have been able to understand everyone's contribution.

Historically, humans have cooperated very effectively to solve problems. That's one of the things that has allowed us to survive as a species. When the problems are more complex, we've learned that it's important that someone create a plan so that things get done in the proper order, etc. However, I think we would also agree that sometimes we have fallen into the trap of focusing too much on the plan and not enough on the people.

That’s why even when we're doing large, complex things it's essential that we make use of some of the same basic techniques that have worked on ad hoc projects.

  • Work to a high level plan (10 trees in 3 hours, trail cleared by 6 pm)
  • Employ short planning horizons (finish the current tree before starting the next tree)
  • Prioritize work (clear trees at mile markers 4, 6 and 8.5 first)
  • Employ self-organized teams (let the team decides how to clear each tree)
  • Leverage individual strengths (take advantage of Patty’s poison ivy immunity and Fred’s ability to clear leaves very quickly)
  • Improve the process (For the next tree, let’s be sure to…)
  • Give everyone a brief chance to be heard ("I've cleared the small branches, now I'm going to clear the leaves", "I'm worried about scratching my new bike")
  • Designate someone to clear impediments ("Next time, I'll arrange for a safe place to lean your bicycle so it won’t get scratched")

I think that most agile practitioners would say - and I would agree - that agile software methods aren’t radically new or different. They’re simply a recognition and codification of the behaviors that have made humans successful as a species.

What do you think?

Tom

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