Ideas on Enterprise Information Systems Development

This blog is devoted to ideas on Enterprise Information Systems (EIS) development. It focuses on Lean Thinking, Agile Methods, and Free/Open Source Software, as means of improving EIS development and evolution, under a more practical than academical view. You may find here a lot of "thinking aloud" material, sometimes without scientific treatment... don't worry, this is a blog!
Every post is marked with at least one of Product or Process labels, meaning that they are related to execution techniques (programming and testing) or management techniques (planning and monitoring), respectively.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Assorted Thoughts on Agilism X Traditionalism - Part VI

Aerospace Engineering and Agilism
I feel really happy when I read something about complex environments which corroborates with our thoughts on how to produce software. A few years ago I read on IEEE Spectrum that the US Department of Defense (DoD) was using leaner acquisition processes. Together with the fact that the DoD is the biggest open source user in USA, it made me think on how some teams delude themselves with excuses that in the end be something like "Yes, we must rely on heavy processes and proprietary software, our organization is really more complex than the Department of Defense of the United States of America!"

Now I have just bumped on the part regarding Mission and Reliability of the classic The Logic of Microspace book. Starting on page 219, the author discuss on why the aerospace industry didn't follow the Lean Thinking principles decades ago, and, more important to this post, what are the consequences of this. Two of them consequences caught my attention: (i) Since manual testing of parts was known and automated testing was new, aerospace industry decided to keep on manual testing, with all its bureaucracy and human errors, and (ii) the qualification processes took so long that it is usual to rely on more than 10 year-old parts. The author also gives an advice: small teams, working on small time windows and using highly integrated and pre-tested components are the solution for a lot of mission complexity problems.

The moral behind this post is the same of many other posts in this blog: don't use the size of your working environment or the complexity of your task as excuses for not using open source software and agile methods.

Post Script 
On page 244 of the same book:
"Space qualified parts carry that label because they meet certain standards for fabrication, inspection, testing and documentation. Modern parts [those produced through automated processes] are likely not designed for the mostly manual steps prescribed by the space qualification requirements, which are often manually assembled and inspected, which lowers reliability. The documentation doesn't add anything to your product's reliability. And the additional people needed to handle all this documentation cut down on team cohesion, create new management layers, and hence lowers the focus of the team effort."
Do I really need to say anything more to convince you that manual testing and lots of documents don't increase your system's quality or do you think your inventory control information system is really more complex than a satellite?
Before I forget, the book is from 2000...


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  4. I Like these line of your article The moral behind this post is the same of many other posts in this blog: don't use the size of your working environment or the complexity of your task as excuses for not using open source software and agile methods.

    Post Script
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    1. Exactly, there are plenty of examples of successful use of open source that cover all the spectra of tasks complexity and organization sizes!

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