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Everyone knows estimating work in IT can be difficult. Whenever you ask an IT expert for an estimate, the sequence of events can look like this: Requester asks, “How long do you think that will take?” The expert pauses, silent, eyes looking up. You can see the wheels spinning. After a few moments, the expert responds: “It depends.” The expert and the requester begin a new round of conversations, further specifying what “it” is and what “depends” means. Estimating isn’t really estimating at all. It is a process of understanding with greater specificity, breaking the work down in greater detail and nailing down unstated or less clear choices. Once all the details are known and …

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May 072010
 
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Sitting on my desk in my office is a model of one of the most dangerous cars in the history of sports car racing. It is a Mercedes 300SLR. On June 11, 1955, at the Le Mans race, a 300SLR driven by French driver Pierre Levegh was involved in an accident in which 82 people (including the driver) were killed. This tragedy sent a shock through the racing world, and the thinking about race car performance, design and safety was changed forever. Now, in racing, it is clearly possible to produce race cars that can go 250, or 300 or perhaps 350 mph and stop on a dime. Human beings, even with computer assists, can’t …

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Over the last decade, we have seen the Web evolve into an unprecedentedly large and powerful computing platform in three key ways: as an execution platform, as a development platform and as an interface for virtualized hardware. However, the opportunities created by treating the Web as a platform are accompanied by significant technological and business challenges. Join the debate in the August 2010 Cutter IT Journal — with Guest Editor Joe Feller — as we examine these challenges and opportunities created by the Web as an execution, development and hardware platform. To share your perspective with us, send us a short article abstract by May 21. For the full Call for Papers, visit here.

 
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Are IT budgets easing up, or does budgeting in 2010 feel like 2009 redux? We hope you’ll help us find out. Cutter has just launched its fifth annual IT Budgeting survey, the results of which will appear in an upcoming issue of Cutter Benchmark Review. Please assist us in creating a snapshot of where we stand in 2010 that we’ll use to compare with data from previous years, identify trends, uncover risks, and make practical recommendations. Please take our survey, which takes 10-12 minutes to complete. We truly appreciate your time, and will thank you for participating with an immediate download of “IT Budgeting: IT May Be Faring Better than Others in the Storm,” the …

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Whenever the topic of quality assurance (QA) over a project is brought to a conversation, testing is the first thing to come to most people’s minds. QA actually goes far beyond just testing code. In any case, being test centric can become more effective from the standpoint of QA at the project level if we expand our view of testing by taking the following five considerations: Test the software development process. A fundamental part of continuous improvement is to mature the software development process, whether or not you are using an agile or lean methodology. If you plan a development strategy and stick to it instead of adjusting it to become more effective over time …

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Here is a question to get your mind going. Has the evolution of computing been shaped by Western 20th century politics and culture or have our designs been more indebted to unchanging human psychology? While this sounds like an abstract debate in which only academics would revel, it started with me tweaking Apple’s iPad in a tweet for what I believe to be ambivalence within the iPad’s file system design. The iPhone and iPad file designs do not exactly follow conventional and hierarchical folder/directory designs of yore. The reason is obvious. Most everyday users of ubiquitous devices have no need for the extra complexity. Many casual users of smart phones and now pads and slates …

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Technology governance is something every company needs. But it’s also something that most companies would prefer not to discuss — or publish. The fact is that without explicit, consistent, well-communicated and well-supported governance, you will experience some degree of chaos in the technology acquisition, deployment, and support process. I’ve written a lot about governance over the years. I am one of those who believe that governance can make or break a technology organization’s ability to deliver business value to its clients. I also believe that governance is absolutely, positively political and therefore complicated, convoluted, and at times deranged. Because of the politics, personalities, and corporate cultures that influence and manipulate governance, it’s necessary to be …

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If you haven’t seen the video of Daniel Pink’s TED talk on the surprising science of motivation, you should take 20 minutes to watch now — it’s worth it. Jim Highsmith recently read Pink’s new book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, and it got him thinking about how Pink’s ideas about intrinsic motivators — autonomy, mastery, and purpose — match up with the Agile Triangle. Check out Jim’s recent Agile Product & Project Management Executive Update, “Agility, Measurement, and Motivation” (no registration required). In it, Jim reveals how the agile community might use Pink’s message to foster better self-organizing teams and improve workplace satisfaction. What’s your take?

 
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It has been painful to watch the perennial angst of the CIO community. Each year, each conference, and each industry rag frets about what ails the CIO and what kind of CIO the CIO will need to be in the future. When viewed as a whole, the CIO community is paranoid and schizophrenic. Not only do we hear multiple conflicting voices in our collective heads, we have a sense that the future we created is out to get us. Here at Cutter Consortium, we tackled this issue of the future of the CIO with some thought provoking and wildly different perspectives, ranging from the CIO is dead meat to a new kind of CIO is …

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What is Agile? Is it a set of practices, a set of values, or a set of mind—or some combination of the three? Is it “Doing Agile” or “Being Agile?” Is agile defined by a checklist of offered practices—the Nokia test for Scrum, or checking 9 of 12 practice boxes for XP? Is agile a mindset, an amalgamation of adaptation, embracing change, transparency, collaboration, complex systems theory, or courage? Is agile the frequent delivery of high quality customer value while effectively adapting to change, regardless of specific practices? (Ken Collier) The right-brained and the left-brained are alive and well in this debate. Daniel Pink (A Whole New Mind) refers to this as L-directed thinking, “sequential, …

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