Mike MacDonagh's Blog

Somewhere in the overlap between software development, process improvement and psychology

Tag Archives: RPM

RSC 2009 – What to expect

I’m not attending the IBM Rational Software Conference (what used to be RSDC, RUC etc. etc.) this year however since it started today for partners and tomorrow for delegates so I thought I’d cast my opinion on what to expect this year. Of course I could be wrong since it’s just assumption but I suspect the main themes will be:

A vision of one notion of process for all Rational tools, made explicit in the relevant tools, surfaced through process rules and defined in practice libraries allowing easily composable and customisable processes based on the Jazz Process architectural elements.

So to tie  it all together the Process Library (which of course is practice based probably driven by Rational Asset Manager) feeds definition of processes in RMC, which is measured by MCIF and delivered by the Rational Software Development Platform. So what does that really mean:

Rational Team Concert 2 beta – because it’s a lot better than RTC 1 which was pretty good to begin with!

Rational Tara –  a Jazz based PPM (Project Portfolio Management) tool. Think MS Project by IBM on Jazz with better Resource Management stuff. It’s part of the replacement suite for Rational Portfolio Manager (RPM).  Should be interesting to see how it ties into the other products (inc. some of the Telelogic ones). I expect this one to be big news – it should be. Gantts, bubble charts, resource utilisation views, agile dashboards etc. will abound. (Now known as Focal Point for Project Management)

Rational Insight – used to be codenamed Vega and is a data warehousing and RTL solution on top of Jazz. Cross project reporting goodness. Of course I’m sure there will also be integration through to the “classic” rational tools. Interestingly I read a bit of blurb recently from somwhere that referred to their old tools as the “classic rational toolset” I wonder if they borrowed that from me 🙂

MCIF – Measured Capability Improvement Framework – It’s been around for a while but with more emphasis from IBM now on practice based process the story between a more practice orientated Rational Method Composer, Health Assessment tools and Self Check tools is a bit tighter.

Telelogic – I expect there to be some announcements about the integration of the Rational and Telelogic brands. Especially around FocalPoint.

I’d also expect some stuff on other Jazz based tools like Requirements Composer, Quality Manager, Ensemble, Governor and stuff like that.

As I said due to other commitments I’m not there myself, but if you are there then please stop by the Ivar Jacobson International stand in the Exhibit Hall downstairs when they let you in. Grab a free beer and talk to my colleagues about how to achieve tangible process improvement with the use of effective practices in a proven framework. Also talk to them about achieving “Agile for Grown Ups” (TM of the MacDaddy) in your organisation. Ivar, Ian Spence, Kurt Bittner are all speaking at the conference and a bunch of other IJIers will be there so go along and say hi.

And ask for a free bag, they’re great for carrying around your exhibit hall swag 🙂

Rational, Telelogic and Jazz roadmap

There’s a lot of interest in the IBM Rational space about the future roadmap of Telelogic products like DOORS and Rational Requisite Pro and some murmurings of new shiny future things like Tara, Vega, MCIF, FocalPoint, Rational Change Management etc. etc.

I’m sure as the year continues we’ll learn a lot more about these things (or at least be able to talk about what we already know under NDA as IBM Rational and Telelogic are bound to make some statements and showcase the future at RSDC09. This year the RSDC is combined with the Telelogic User Conference (Innovation) which is a public sign of how integrated IBM want the Rational and Telelogic brands to become in the future.

All of this is very important for existing Telelogic and Rational customers, as well as people interested in Jazz or using Jazz. So I noticed a presentation from RSDC in Italy that covers some high level information on the joint product roadmap:

Knowledge Centered Support in my project

Kelly Drahzal recently published this great presentation on Knowledge Centered Support which made me think a bit on the nature of support mechanisms. I’m currently engaged in rolling out a large and complex enterprise tool (Rational Portfolio Manager) and associated governance, portfolio management and project management practices in a large and complex client.

One of the things we need to do to get these pracitices and the tool embedded in an organisation is manage support. Our support takes two forms, tools support and process support. Normally when a person thinks they’re asking for one of them they’re actually asking for the other 😛 One of the interesting things about the support that my rollout team provides to the practitioners is that ultimately it’s a transient function – we won’t be the long term support team on this product, in fact support will be handed over to the centralised support function and the rollout team (comprised of external consultants (some IJIers, an IBMer and some independents) and contractors) will dissapate into the ether from whence it came. So obviously, as per Kelly’s presentation we’re very keen on knowledge centered support – we don’t want to waste our time, effort and brain power by re-recreating the answers to people’s problems.

So what do we actually do to try and avoid some of these problems and do some knowledge based support? We’re a transient support function so we don’t have and super tools or even specialist knowledge base management skills. What we do have is a highly skilled team and a number of communication channels.

We capture all support requests in a humble excel spreadsheet, regardless of their communication channel and categorise the requests into a number of categories. (Of course this gave me an excuse to write some cunning macros to keep everything updated automatically).

As well as providing lovely graphs the spreadsheet captures the issue and the response. As a result the team can all see who had what problem and how it was resolved. As problems are solved knowledge is created, capturing it in a spreadsheet is all well and good, and can be searched on by the support team but it’s not great in terms of sharing that knowledge broadly. (As it happens the support spreadsheet is publicly accessible via a guest account on our config management repository – but that doesn’t mean anyone is looking!)

To share the knowledge we communicate it through many channels. Sometimes it’s apparent that our education has been lacking some good guidance so we update the education programme (training courses, open surgeries, lunch ‘n’ learns). We have a wiki where we can post new bits of information, a message board/forum, emailing lists, laminated desk drops, a FAQ on the wiki and also some mentoring guides. One of the functions of our team is to mentor practitioners in the adoption of practices and tools and to do that we have a number of mentoring packages that we give to adopting teams. Ensuring that the mentors are all saying the same thing, giving the same solution to the same problem is important. One of the best ways of doing this it to get the mentors together to talk to each other, run through scenarios and gain consensus on the common answers. We also document these scenarios, sometimes in the practitioner facing User Guide and sometimes through mentor guides.

Some thoughts on self-hosting

There are many benefits to self-hosting which tend to lead to self-hosted projects achieving high quality. Some examples of this are many compilers, IDEs such as Delphi, Visual Studio etc. The sheer breadth of testing on self-hosted systems means bugs and dodgy user experiences are ironed out early. More recent examples of high-quality self-hosted development efforts come from Eclipse and Rational Team Concert. Scott Rich recently blogged on the Jazz team blog about RTC having the “smoothest end game ever” and one of the key points that led to this smooth end game was the self-hosting of RTC.

The question is how can we get the benefits of self-hosting in normal projects, since most organisations aren’t in the business of building IDEs…

Personally, I get involved in a lot of projects that aim to improve an organisations software development capability, often these projects involve deploying tools into an organistion to deal with things such as planning, issue tracking, configuration management etc. So in my projects I always make sure I’m self-hosted, that is we use the planning tools to plan the delpoyment of the planning tools 😛 We track issues in the issue tracking tool that we want others to use and store our artifacts in the repositories we are deploying in the organisation. This approach gives the benefits of broad and deep testing of infrastructure, configuration, integration and usage models. Not to mention the opportunity of being in the strong position of practicing what we preach!

Currently I’m involved in rolling out Rational Portfolio Manager to about 500 people. Changing the way that many people plan and manage projects isn’t terribly easy, but it’s made easier by ensuring that the configuration of a tool and it’s usage models have really been put through the ringer and thoroughly tested. As a result my project is self-hosted in RPM. That way my team is the first to find things that haven’t been set up correctly, is the the first to feel pain points and can fix them before the general user base has to feel the pain.

Not to mention we’re practicising what we preach.

If you’re doing any sort of project and you can work out how to usefully use the output of the project in the project then do so.

Going live on time

After over a year of work my team finally managed to go live with RPM (Rational Portfolio Manager) this week. On time. Bizarre as that sounds, in fact we actually went live a day early but didn’t tell anyone 😀

We’ve been using RPM at a particular client with a small subset of the user base to capture demand for projects and therefore the development budget for the year since March, as of the 1st of July we went live to the rest of the user base which involved:

  • A tool upgrade from 7.0.5.5 to 7.1.1.1 – not as simple as it sounds in a completely outsourced operational environment
  • A whole load of security configuration, layouts, process definitions etc.

Now we just need people to use it!

When can you get the Jazz based Rational Tools?

I’ve seen some comments about the fact that at the RSDC2008 Rational announced 22 products. I think many bloggers and article writers may have got a little confused by all the hype. Rational certainly made some very important product announcements and the Rational Labs in the exhibition centre were fantastic in terms of showing us some previews of what’s coming in the future. These announcements and lab previous are the primary reason why I said it was the best RSDC in years. However there weren’t 22 new products announced! It breaks down like this in terms of what the analysts have been writing/bloggin:

IBM Rational announced pricing and availability for a swath of 22 products:

  • There are 6 new IBM Rational products that are native Jazz products (6)
  • Updates to five existing Rational tools that add Jazz enablement/capabilities (5)
  • plans for certified add-in products from 11 Rational partners (11)

6+5+11 = 22

Personally I’ve struggled to put these numbers in context. I think I’m fairly aware of the new Rational stuff that’s coming along but I can’t quite get the numbers to add up, so the rest of this post is about what I’m aware of, please comment if you have any more/contrary information: (Edit: see the comments on this post for a clarification on the numbers from IBM)

New Jazz based tools:

  1. IBM Rational Team Concert (may not count as it’s been announced for 2 years)
  2. IBM Rational Quality Manager
  3. IBM Rational Requirements Composer
  4. IBM Rational Financier
  5. IBM Rational Governor
  6. IBM Rational Tempo
  7. IBM Rational Ensemble (not to be confused with the IBM Rational Ensemble that is a business partner collective!)
  8. IBM Rational Enterprise Reporting
  9. IBM Rational Project Management

I’m counting 9 not 6

As for the 5 updated, these will be ClearQuest, ClearCase, ReqPro, RPM (arguably) and…? I’m not sure where AppScan fits in with this stuff. It’s great tool and will clearly integrate with Rational Quality Manager but I don’t know where it fits in with the 22? announcements. Similar questions can be asked about the Telelogic tools.

Anyway here’s what I’m tracking in terms of the new IBM Rational Jazz tools:

Rational Team Concert

Release Candidate 4(Jazz.net registration required) is currently available for downloading, the production release is sceduled for mid 2008 with the enterprise release scheduled for October 2008 (that’s the one I’d use for piloting)

Also

IBM Rational are running a number of open betas for some of the new tools that were announced at last weeks RSDC. They’re not generally available yet but will be soon. Specifically:

Rational Quality Manager

This open beta program includes two new Rational products and three enhanced versions of Rational products that you already know:

  • NEW* IBM® Rational® Quality Manager v8.0
  • NEW* IBM® Rational® Test Lab Manager v8.0 Extension**
    **This extension is included in Rational Quality Manager for the open beta but will be available under separate license for GA.
  • ENHANCED* IBM® Rational® Performance Tester v8.0
  • ENHANCED* IBM® Rational® Functional Tester v8.0
  • ENHANCED* IBM® Rational® Service Tester for SOA Quality v8.0

Open Beta pre-registration – get emailed when the open beta gets released on (currently) June 24th 2008

There will also be some open web demos on June 24th so you can get an overview without pre-registering for the beta if you wish.

Rational Requirements Composer

This Beta features the latest version of Rational RequisitePro for managing your requirements, as well as a new offering, Rational Requirements Composer, enhancing your abilities to elicit and define requirements for business driven-development.

NEW* IBM Rational Requirements Composer Beta focuses on the following capabilities for requirements definition and management:

  • Leverage multiple sources for requirements and organize them in rich documents for context
    • Create requirements and link to supporting documents and external sources
    • Supplement textual content with embedded views of diagrams and sketches
  • Develop robust use cases
    • Create simple, informative use-case diagrams
    • Elaborate use cases with rich document descriptions, user interfaces sketches, storyboards, and activity flows
  • Build comprehensive business glossaries
    • Interact with rich documents to define and share new terms
    • Link to and verify the usage of existing terms
  • Sketch business processes
    • Sketch business processes using a widely recognizable and easily understandable subset of the BPMN notation
    • Link business tasks and decision points to use cases, user interface sketches, and requirements
  • Visualize results with user interface sketches and storyboards
    • Elaborate the user experience to further elicit and validate requirements
    • Refactor sketches into reusable parts to quickly build storyboards
    • Easily maintain storyboards as sketch changes are propagated throughout
    • Link requirements to any user interface part
  • Collaborate in context to validate and clarify requirements
    • Attach comments to virtually any textual or graphical element
    • Maintain comment threads for conversational context
    • Create requirements from comment content
    • Host reviews within the collaborative environment to facilitate requirements validation and approval
  • Integrate Rational Requirements Composer Beta and Rational RequisitePro v7.1 Beta
    • RequisitePro integrations provide requirements traceability across the application lifecycle
    • Enhance requirements content to overcome perception, communication, and information gaps across functions, organizations, and geographies.

ENHANCED* Rational RequisitePro® v7.1 Beta focuses on the following new and improved capabilities:

  • RequisitePro client for Web enhancements, including:
    • Improved Microsoft® Word integration: create and edit requirements without taking documents offline
    • Additional project administration capability
    • View rich-text requirements content
    • Run and share BIRT-based reports
  • Enhanced security model for enterprise deployments
    • Set permissions on package hierarchies and views
  • New BIRT-based reporting option
    • Report designer for custom report design
    • Sample report templates aid in report design
  • Baseline Manager improvements
    • Explore baseline contents to gain context beyond baseline comparisons

Open Beta pre-registration – get emailed when the open beta gets released (currently) planned for late June/July 2008

Other tools

Some other tools I’m aware of but don’t have any information on dates (some of these are part of the rational labs research and may never make final products):

  • IBM Rational Financier – gives project and program managers insight into the financial value of one ore more projects to help identify and manage risks
  • IBM Rational Governor – helps IT organisations manage project roles and associates decision rights including managing the polices that constrain decisions and promote compliance with processes
  • IBM Rational Tempo – lets project managers understand and mange the variability of schedule overruns, a key source of risk in software development projects
  • IBM Rational Ensemble – reduces risks incurred by communication failures by promoting communication between developers doing related work (see here for info on the business partner group called IBM Rational Ensemble)
  • IBM Rational Enterprise Reporting – a reporting interface that sits across all of the Jazz tools, more than just a jazz version of SoDa this tool can replace a lot of the executive dashboard features of tools like RPM
  • IBM Rational Project Management – a replacement for Microsoft Project???
  • IBM Rational Self Check (see MCIF)

Conclusions

There’s clearly a lot going on in this space and the next few years will be critical in the Rational space as Jazz takes it’s ascendency. It seems obvious to me that the “classic” Rational tools (ReqPro, ClearCase, ClearQuest etc.) will converge with the new Jazz based tools in each area and Rational will provide an upgrade path for each tool so eventually more everyone from the classic tools to the Jazz tools. In my opinion this is a good thing for a number of reasons:

  • Rather than purchases of point products integrated point to point, the Jazz project is an architectural focus on the needs of the industry. I’d argue this is long overdue and extremely valuable.
  • Distributed teams are accepted as the norm not the exception
  • The “classic” tools have needed a facelift for a while
  • And more importantly there is a growing trend from Rational towards Practice based process and tooling, something that my company, and me personally, have been evangelising for a while now. The new Jazz tools, the MCIF, practice based approach to process and embracing of agile principles demonstrate a genuine effort in right direction

RSDC 2008 Day 1: Jazz, Sushi, Wallflowers

Today was day 1 of the RSDC 2008. I’ve already been busy for a couple of days but today was the proper first day. Unfortunately I spent the beginning a little hung over. I turned up to the keynote presentation at 8am local time with a bit of a headache – after watching the acrobatics and suffering the loud noise I had an even worse headache – oops 🙂 With only myself to blame I soldiered on to experience many cool things today:

Lots of Jazz stuff

Today IBM Rational officially announced both Rational Requirements Composer and Rational Quality Manager. Also Rational Team Concert has got a lot of press. I blogged a while ago about RRC and RQM (here) so it was good to finally see these products.

Rational Composer is especially interesting to me as it a new Jazz based tool that allows you to manage requirements, create process flow diagrams, GUI mock-ups, manage glossary terms, create traceability and even create Use Case Docs in a single environment. Of course there is integration with Requisite Pro but it seems clear to me that in the long-ish term the products will converge until ReqPro is no longer necessary. I’m looking forward to the GA release of Requirements Composer, and especially the future release that is fully Jazz enabled, making use of Jazz SCM for requirements management and integrating deeply into the other Jazz products. I said previously on my blog that Reqiurements Composer was due for open beta today, but the word is that it will be next week! I’m impressed by this product and I think it will really help people that want to elicit requirements – all the way from organisational business analysts to project business analysts and system analysts. It’s a cool product.

I also saw today the Microsoft Visual Studio client for Rational Team Concert. As a .Net developer myself and someone that works with clients that have heterogeneous environments this is particularly important to me. So far there are some VS native windows for Jazz views such as Team Artifacts and Work Items but I’ve not really seen what the relationship to TFS/VSTS is. Also at the moment some of the views (particularly of work item details) are through the web interface in a html pane inside Visual Studio rather than in a native VS plugin interface – although I’m assured this is to come soon. It’s good to see IBM Rational focussing on integrating with other platform and vendors. As most users would probably say though – I want it now!

Other interesting elements included the news about Rational Project Management and Rational Enterprise Reporting, not to mention the new governance tools from IBM Research including

  • IBM Rational Financier – gives project and program managers insight into the financial value of one ore more projects to help identify and manage risks
  • IBM Rational Governor – helps IT organisations manage project roles and associates decision rights including managing the polices that constrain decisions and promote compliance with processes
  • IBM Rational Tempo – lets project managers understand and mange the variability of schedule overruns, a key source of risk in software development projects
  • IBM Rational Ensemble – reduces risks incurred by communication failures by promoting communication between developers doing related work

All of the above are native Jazz tools and indicate the bright shiny new Jazz future. It seems obvious to me that these tools and will be the future path in the long term for Rational Portfolio Manager

Rational Team Concert will be the first generally available product and will be released towards the end of this month – here’s a screenshot of IJI EssWork in Team Concert just because I’ve been playing with it:

(cliccy piccy)

Many other things caught my eye today – including an excellent presentation on RPM by Scott Craig that happened to include some ideas that I think will seed solutions for some of the problems faced by my own RPM implementation at the moment at my favourite client.

I also liked the look of IBM Rational Self Check as it’s a good tool for supporting what I and my team have been doing manually for years. In fact the Self Check screenshots look remarkably like the measurements slides in my RUP implementation case study! If only this tool had been available 4 years ago! Rational Self Check is part of the focus on measuring practice adoption and the IBM Rational Measured Capability Improvement Framework (MCIF) – of course practice adoption and measurement is something that we know rather a lot about at IJI 😉

The hat

image shamefully nicked from kelly

Met Kelly and Ferdy

It was cool to meet up with some folks who I’ve previously only interacted with online. I think we need to setup a group photo of us all 🙂

The Wallflowers gig

More gratuitous photo stealing from kelly:

Ian (Spence) had to point out to me that the lead singer (Jakob Dylan) was the son of Bob Dylan – which once he’d told me it was actually pretty obvious. Clearly I need to be more in touch! There were sparkly cups at the wallflowers gig too, obviously I grabbed a couple to take home for my boys (clicky piccy):

Sushi with the Wallflowers

After the exhibition centre and after the wallflowers gig we went over to Kimonos in the Swan for some Sushi and cocktails, the Wallflowers took the table next to us and it wasn’t long before our group and there’s were intermingled. They were kind enough, after getting hassled by Bryon Baker, to sign some autographs for Garth’s kids 8)

Bryon (and others) at karaoke

Speaking of Bryon, he did a funnygreat rendition of Coca Cabana with Gina, I got the vid on my phone so I’ll upload it and post it tomorrow 😀

The ribbons

And here’s an updated pic of the copious number of ribbons I have this year. They’re a good conversation starter though 😀

My first Jazz (Team Concert) Demo

So I just finished my first proper Jazz demo with my favourite customer. I demo’d Team Concert both in Eclipse based on my own process template based on EssUP from IJI and also in my trusty FireFox. We also went and looked at the project dashboard for the Jazz project itself hosted on jazz.net 8)

The best thing about demoing or even just playing with Jazz is how easy it is to setup and play with. The guys in the Jazz development team have done a great job in making it accessible and consumable. You can literally just download the server and client, unzip, run the server through a batch file then start accessing the clients. From download to up and running took me about 3 minutes the first time I tried it. Compare this to wanting to play with something like RPM and the other Rational tools and you’d be banging your head against walls!

Team Concert is a great product – I just want to see the technology integrated into Microsoft Visual Studio. And of course to see what other Jazz tools are going to be announced at the RSDC in a few weeks time.

Here’s what’s happening around Rational Team Concert and Jazz at the RSDC

Check out my preview posts in this blog on what’s coming up a this years RSDC .

Here’s a screen shot of my very important risk list in my test project 🙂

Screenshot of my demo risk list in Jazz Team Concert

(click for full size)

#jazzdev twitter hashtag stats

RSDC 2008

The RSDC (IBM Rational Software Development Conference) is on in the first week of June in Orlando, Florida. I’ll be there with a number of IJI colleagues including of course Ivar Jacobson. This year I’ve got two talks:

The big questions on my mind are, what’s William Shatner going to talk about (should be fun) and where’s the special event this year? Does anyone know?

This year I intend to not get humiliated on the mini-golf course while sun burning my ears.

RSDC banner

What’s the future for RPM?

So IBM have made a strategic announcement about Rational Portfolio Manager here which reads to me that the RPM code base isn’t going to be continued in the long term as the functionality is provided by Jazz based stuff in the future.

To me this is a good thing because RPM imposes a certain way of working whereas something like Team Concert + other Jazz bits could be a lot more flexible. And Jazz is funky.

Presumably IBM will be making some announcements about future Jazz stuff at the RSDC this year

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