Managers Should Remember User

By Peter Coffee  |  Posted 2005-12-12 Print this article Print

Needs"> As developer productivity gains flow from quality improvement investments, enterprise managers should therefore apply some of those savings toward the goal of better understanding and meeting user needs. Quality improvement tools should be viewed to some degree as enablers for that larger effort and not as representing the end of the quality journey: "I havent seen any tool that can tell me I have a problem with my requirement. I havent seen a tool that will tell me how I need to change my requirement," said Dalim Khandaker, manager for enterprise application performance and tuning at the Toronto offices of the professional services company CGI Group Inc.
Microsofts Guckenheimer agreed that key aspects of quality require user input and developer commitment to understand and improve: "Typically, requirements dont cover things like performance and user experience that well—[theyre] not something for which a requirements document is necessarily the right solution."
The economics of application quality are compelling, the discussion participants agreed. "There was a very interesting National Institute of Standards and Technology study a couple of years ago that looked at the overall economic impact of software quality," said Identify Softwares Wizdo. "That report said that fully 80 percent of software development costs are spent correcting software defects. Solving that problem is fundamental to the development process." Boosting developer productivity, rather than merely burning developer hours, is a crucial corollary for Station Casinos Andrew. "Were finding it very hard to find skilled technicians, even going outside the state, so were trying to get more efficiency with better tools and better training," he said. Moreover, he said, investments get amortized over time, "while salaries hit your income statement on a monthly basis." To speak of process technology in the same breath as enterprise finance is to raise another key subject: Sarbanes-Oxley Act compliance. The need to make quality more consistent and the development process more transparent and accountable "is just an artifact of us not doing the right things in the past," Jewelry Televisions Meystrik said. "So now Moms standing up and saying, You guys will behave now. We just need to do it ourselves." "The multivendor, multiversion platform is creating a lot of challenges," CGIs Khandaker said. Meystrik is meeting that challenge with an eclectic strategy that keeps him in charge of his own portfolio. "We dont want one vendor to sell us one solution because, by and large, my history of managing large organizations tells me that doesnt work. We want best of breed," he said. "Weve made some significant changes in coupling things together." Those are the terms on which quality-tool vendors must compete—or be ignored. Peter Coffee can be reached at Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis in programming environments and developer tools.

Peter Coffee is Director of Platform Research at, where he serves as a liaison with the developer community to define the opportunity and clarify developersÔÇÖ technical requirements on the companyÔÇÖs evolving Apex Platform. Peter previously spent 18 years with eWEEK (formerly PC Week), the national news magazine of enterprise technology practice, where he reviewed software development tools and methods and wrote regular columns on emerging technologies and professional community issues.Before he began writing full-time in 1989, Peter spent eleven years in technical and management positions at Exxon and The Aerospace Corporation, including management of the latter companyÔÇÖs first desktop computing planning team and applied research in applications of artificial intelligence techniques. He holds an engineering degree from MIT and an MBA from Pepperdine University, he has held teaching appointments in computer science, business analytics and information systems management at Pepperdine, UCLA, and Chapman College.

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