Tuesday Mar 25, 2014

New in OUM - The Abbreviated PMP Template

Did you know that OUM now contains an Abbreviated Project Management Plan (PMP) template in the BT.070 – Create Project Management Framework task?  If you have been around OUM for a while, or have been a project manager using another methodology that aligns to PMI's global standards, you know that the PMP is key to promoting project success. The PMP is the work product that captures the project approaches for all of the OUM Manage processes. The Abbreviated PMP template in OUM is a MS-PowerPoint deck that serves to encapsulate the essential elements of the overall plan into a single presentation.

The Abbreviate PMP is applicable for smaller (<500 day projects is the general recommendation) and/or agile projects which call for lightweight, low-ceremony documentation. It is also well-suited to the PMP index approach where planning documents are written as separate documents and then linked within the master presentation. In any kind of project, it can serve as a scalable presentation which may be used during the project kick-off or other team meetings.

Regardless of which approach you take on your project, the PMP template (or any OUM work product for that matter) should be revised to fit the needs of your project.

Check out the new Abbreviate PMP template and let us know your thoughts.

Friday Jul 26, 2013

New in OUM 6.0: Scrum View and Project Plan

Have you checked out the newly released OUM 6.0?  Amongst the many items on the "What's New" list you will notice that there is a new Scrum view and project plan, which are the direct result of collaboration by many global subject matter experts.  The Scrum view and associated project plan provide a conceptual look at managing a Scrum-based project using OUM as the method and source of work products.

The Scrum view brings together into one place all the OUM tasks associated with managing a Scrum projects as well as all OUM Scrum supplemental content.  The view provides navigation via a familiar Scrum Framework diagram, as well as by the more textual "Task and Work Products" section.  The content within the view is grouped according to the Scrum Framework components of Project Kickoff, Sprint Planning, Sprint Review and Sprint Retrospective.  This grouping allows those who are new to Scrum as well as those who are Scrum experts to be able to find relevant materials for their engagements.

Although a formal project plan may not be considered part of a highly agile environment, the Scrum project plan is provided to give projects a starting point for their plans and to leverage when the project situation calls for it.  Also, the plan may be helpful as an education tool for those audiences less familiar with Scrum.  As with any OUM project, this project plan should be tailored to suit the individual engagement.

Be sure to take a look at the new content within OUM 6.0 and provide your comments.

Monday May 06, 2013

The Eating Contest - How a software project is like an eating contest

It may be hard to imagine, but there are some similarities between software projects and eating contests. No, I'm not implying that both are messy  and leave you feeling ill. Done properly, only an eating contest will produce those results.

What I am talking about is that both eating contests and software projects should employ an iterative and incremental approach. In other words, smaller chunks are better whether you're eating or implementing.

Click here to hear about a guy named Steve, his eating contest exploits, and how my sleeping brain made a connection between Steve's approach and successful software projects. This brief video describes OUM's principle of iterative and incremental and how it should be used to create success in eating contests and on software projects.

Whether it's an on-premises implementation or enabling a customer in a public cloud environment, businesses expect very rapid time to value for all of their IT investments. An iterative and incremental approach helps implementers live up to those expectations.

Once you're finished viewing the video please leave a comment or go to the "Oracle Unified Method" group on LinkedIn to give us your thoughts.

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?

Thursday May 31, 2012

The Use-Case Driven Approach to Change Management

In the third entry of the series on OUM and PMI’s Pulse of the Profession, we took a look at the continued importance of change management and risk management. The topic of scope change management and OUM’s use-case driven approach has come up in few recent conversations. So I thought I would jot down a few thoughts on how the use-case driven approach aids a project team in managing the project’s scope.

Use-case models are one of several tools in OUM used to establish and manage the project's scope.  Because use-cases can be understood by both business and IT project team members, they can serve as a bridge for ongoing collaboration as well as a visual diagram that encapsulates all agreed-upon functionality. This makes them a vital artifact in identifying changes to the project’s scope.

Here are some of the primary benefits of using the use-case driven approach as part of the effort for establishing and managing project scope:

  • Use-cases quickly communicates scope in a straightforward manner. All project stakeholders can have a common foundation for the decisions regarding architecture and design and how they relate to the project's objectives.
  • Once agreed upon, a use-case can be put under change control and any updates to the model can then be quickly identified as potentially affecting the project’s scope.  Changes requested or discovered later in the project can be analyzed objectively for their impact on project's budget, resources and schedule.
  • A modular foundation for the design of the software solution can be established in Elaboration.  This permits work to be divided up effectively and executed in so that the most important and riskiest use-cases can be tackled early in the project.
  • Use-cases help the team make informed decisions about implementation priorities, which allows effective allocation of limited project resources.  This is very helpful in not only managing scope, but in doing iterative and incremental planning which relies heavily on the ability to identify project priorities.

Bottom line is that use-cases give the project team solid understanding of scope early in the project.  Combine this understanding with effective project management and communication and you have an effective tool for reducing the risk of overruns in budget and/or time due to out of control scope changes.

Now that you’ve had a chance to read these thoughts on the use-case driven approach and project scope, please let me know your feedback based on your experience.

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 Feb 06, 2012

Back to the Strategy

Methodologists are much like everyone else in that we are all too crazy busy to spend time reflecting on the past.  However, as I was preparing for a presentation at the 2012 JDE Summit last week, I found myself reflecting on the fact that I had returned to the site of an important milestone in the evolution of OUM.

It was seven years ago, in a conference room at the Oracle campus in Broomfield, Colorado, that several legacy Oracle, PeopleSoft and JD Edwards folks got together and sketched out what became Oracle’s method integration strategy.  We may have tweaked the actual wording since that meeting, but the foundations of the strategy have remained:

  • Support current methods (Compass, AIM, ABF, Siebel, DWM FT, etc.)
  • Develop a single, integrated method, to support the entire Oracle ecosystem, across all Oracle products (OUM).
  • Decommission legacy methods as the field transitions to OUM.

In the seven years since the initial meeting in Broomfield, this strategy has served as a solid foundation as OUM has evolved and many acquisitions have subsequently been brought into Oracle.  So I suppose that for even crazy busy people, there is benefit in reflecting back on the fundamental decisions that continue to drive our day-to-day tasks.

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.

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.
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