Monday, September 25, 2006

Missed time to market window! Really?

We know project management is all about the juggling the three balls of time, cost and quality. A project is successfull if it meets the functional and non-functional requirements within predetermined time, cost and quality constraints.

The traditional project management approach (and hence 99% of the tools) focus on completing the defined work within given time constraints and cost limits. However, the recent focus has been shifting more to the quality of the final output!!

Let's look at some examples:
  • Google. Didn't google missed the time to market long before it released its search engine?
  • Apple iPOD. Had it made a difference if iPOD was delayed another 6 months?
  • Toyota Prius in 2000. Missed the TTM by three years! (Audi released its first hybrid in 1997 and Honda released its hybrid in 1999)
More and more companies are realising the fact that quality rocks!! If your product is high quality, it doesn't really matter if you are a year or two late to the market. Every product has its life, but if it is of high quality it tends to live longer - which changes the whole Net Present Value (NPV) calculation, in case you are using it to calculate the validity of your projects and releases.

Project requirements can be divided into functional and non-functional buckets. Functional requirements are the core (and supplementry) features of your product. Non-functional requirements are the systemic qualities, which encapsulates all "illities" - Availability, Scalability, Reliability, Flexibility, Extensibility, Interoperability, Compatibility, Testability, Understandability, Load and Performance, Stability, Resiliency, Manageability, Mantainability, Security, Supportability, Adaptability, Configurability and Usability! Note: Not all illities are applicable to all product offerings.

Your product may have over thousand functionalities, but just pick a handful of core ones (maybe 3 to 5) and all of the non-funtional requirements for your first release. A high quality product markets itself: word-of-mouth is the most effective marketing tool. Once a customer is hooked-in, slowly roll-out new features. That way you'll have the relationship going and you can get a continuous inflow of money - easy from SEC's perspective and no hassle of accounting manipulations either! That's what is driving software as a service (SaaS) market today.

SOA is the SaaS enabler and it is changing the way software is released. SOA brings business agility. However, our project management tools are still old-fashioned. Project managers are still focused on TTM and CTM concepts. They are still chasing deadlines and pennies. Quality awareness is forcing ALM companies to come up with more sophesticated tools that stitches the SOA fabric.

For innovation and quality, you are never late to the market!

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