Sunday, December 29, 2013

Year-end compilation of sayings

You may or may or may not find these usefull in the new year.  (The are in no particular order.) 

  • The key to project management is "communicate, communicate, communicate". -- Dr Gary J. Evans. 
  • Everything happens for a reason and a purpose, and it serves you. -- Anthony Robbins
  • Lead follow or get out of the way. -- Thomas Paine 
  • All that is necessary  for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. -- Edmund Burke  
  • The five reasons babies cry are: hungry, messy, tired, gas, sick. Don't forget any of them. -- Jeff Spiller
  • Entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily.-- William of Occham. 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Small Project Risk

How many times have you heard (or told) stories about system that can't be upgraded because it only runs on [insert your outdated operating system version here]. Or, we can't do that worthwhile project because the [insert program/script/report name here] won't handle the capacity and we can't [spend the time or money to]  fix it. Frequently you find that,  in the scheme of things,  these are small programs, written years past with the best intentions. The long term issues were just unanticipated.

Any time you work on a small software project  its easy to identify short-term risks, for example:
  • Will the project get done on time? 
  • Will it work properly? 
  • Will the implementation go smoothly? 
Frequently, however, we ignore long-term risks like:
  • What if the underlying technology becomes outdated/unsupported before the project outlives is usefulness.
  • What it this is needed beyond is projected lifespan/capacity
  • What level of additional complexity will it add when we change/update systems
  • How will it limit our ability to react to changing conditions

We manage the short-term risks because they are typically known, and the project won't be a success if we don't. We ignore the long-term risks because it's a small project, its impact appears to insignificant and the expense of mitigating those risks does not seem to be worthwhile.

Unfortunately for some small projects, the impact of its failure grows over time, and the long-term risks become very significant.

On small projects try to ask yourself questions like this:
  • What will the significance of the this project be if its use grows  over time?
  • What will happen if we have to change program this frequently ?
  • What other systems depend of this program, what happens if their significance changes ?

Saturday, December 14, 2013

My Application for CEO of Microsoft

Dear Microsoft CEO Selection Committee,

I know that you are actively looking for a new CEO and I am quite sure that I am at the top of your list even though you haven't contacted me ... yet. In the spirit of letting you know what you will be getting, I would like to outline my plan for Microsoft's future. The theme of my plan is 'Breaking up is the only thing to do'.

In the last 30 + years Microsoft grown from from a tiny start-up into one of the largest technology powerhouses in the world. But, as with any company, there comes a point where if the company continues grow and diversify it will be crushed under  its own weight. Microsoft is at this point. The best move for the company and its shareholders is to break Microsoft into three companies:

1. WindowsOS, Inc. This company will open source the Windows desktop and server operating systems and Internet Explorer.  It will provide development, support, and maintenance in a model similar to RedHat or Ubuntu. Open sourcing Windows  has much better potential because the OS is fast becoming a commodity, and open source is an excellent and cost effective model for a commodity software business

2. XBox. Inc. This company will comprise of Windows devices including phones, game consoles, and tablets. It will also own the Windows 8 mobile OS. This company will focus on consumers with known name and flagship product.

3. Microsoft, Inc. This company will retain the high value applications that power business. Branded with the with the familiar and enterprise friendly Microsoft name, it will include SQLServer, Visual Studio and development tools, Exchange, and Dynamics. It will focuses on the Enterprise market. These tools will be ported to Linux over time to increase market share.

As for Bing-- I will sell it to whomever wants it (though preferably not Google since competition is a good thing). Microsoft does not need to compete with Google on is battlefield of choice.

I know that this is drastic move and there are details to be hashed out. In the long run, however, Microsoft's 'babies' can focus on their own businesses rather than trying to balance out competing demands from other units. My contact information is on this blog, and I expect to hear from you soon.


Jeff Spiller