Targeting Quick Wins And Sustaining Momentum

September 7, 2014

Systematic reuse initiatives don’t have to be big-bang events preceded by a lot of noise. It can be done quietly – project by project with a resolute focus on getting targeted wins. As I’ve blogged before, the key is discipline – not technology. The most fundamental question to ask your teams – do they have the basics in place? Specifically:

  1. How do they go from requirements to design – is there a set of known patterns and frameworks that will anchor the design? If so, ensure every project is aware of these and when appropriate leverages them in the design.
  2. Are there trust issues with the software being produced by the sister teams? Before you dismiss this as a ‘soft’ issue – remember, your developers and development leads are human and need healthy social relationships at work before they let others influence them. Influence translates to systematic reuse – not occasional but project after project. 
  3. What happens in cases where a project develops a lot of potentially reusable code – who knows about their existence outside the immediate development team? who is going to be accountable for appropriate teams to leverage this work? If you don’t know the answers – don’t be surprised that your software solutions are siloed. No getting around Conway’s Law
  4. Do you send project updates and accomplishments like many development teams? Most of the time, the target audience is management and the intended message is to gloat how successful the delivery was. Celebrate and reward your teams but also take the time to reflect on two additional themes: did we best utilize the organization’s existing software assets – that includes prior requirements, component libraries, frameworks, services, and patterns? and did we contribute back to the organization’s repository of shared software assets? These aren’t tough questions to ask but you will be surprised by the answers!
  5. What are the biggest roadblocks to sharing software assets? Don’t assume it’s communication or organization structure or code quality or learning curve or integration ease (or all of them!). Go to the scene of action – spend time pair programming with developers to empathize their circumstances. Watch them struggle to get something to play well in their IDE or plain compile or execute with a myriad tweaks. Don’t assume – collect evidence and focus your improvement efforts on making their lives better.

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