When I start a new job or consulting gig, the most common problem I encounter is lack of IT systems documentation. I often spend the first few weeks on the job doing reverse engineering, discovering as much as possible about the company’s systems. An opposite problem is too much documentation. Well, more precisely, too much bureaucratic documentation, much of it out of date. There’s a lot of documentation in place, but much of it is in the weeds, minutia about procedures, for example, with no clear architectural summaries. Documentation is hard to maintain, so much of what I find it horribly out of date –Read More →

Recently, I was working with a client’s systems administration team, and they were agonizing over timing a new application upgrade. They knew the upgrade was going to take hours (we’re talking Windows here, not Unix, sigh!), and did not want to interrupt business operations. They planned on a midnight upgrade, which would necessitate overtime, and require project managers, QA stage, and others to work overnight as well. “Wait, you’re on the cloud, right? Take advantage of cloud infrastructure and do your upgrade with zero downtime,” I remarked. Well, apparently this was novel to them, so I outlined a couple approaches my teams have taken inRead More →

Borrowing from one of the elements of the JIRA ticketing system, there comes a time when the influx of development requests very obviously is epic in proportion, and should be recognized as such.  Any member of the team should be able to call this out, “hey, that’s Epic”, and help drive an Epic Meeting. Sometimes Epics happen naturally, especially in product development-oriented organizations.  A new product is definitely a new epic, and calls for  a discussion on the overall goals of the product and an initial approach to its design.  This should be hashed out well before development, individual tickets, and sprints start.  Sometimes, theRead More →

I’m bringing on a new UX (User Experience) person on my team, and that triggered a search through my archives of drawings and documents.  That’s when I tripped across these “customer journey maps” I developed two years ago for (now defunct) NRG Home Solar. As simple as they are, I’m rather proud of them, and they were actually inspirational enough for an outside consulting firm to use them as the basis for their “persona-based” site design for our new website (which alas, never launched).Read More →

Agile processes, especially as recognized in software development practice, has been a very successful project management approach. In my 20+ years experience with the general approach (when it was first labeled “extreme programming”), I have experienced more rapid delivery of quality code, more predictability in the software development life cycle, less rework, and a higher resonance with customer and stakeholder needs.  I have also observed, though, it causing stress within organizations – when software is developed as rapidly as it is under an Agile approach, the corporate bottlenecks become more apparent elsewhere, causing friction with other teams. Agile detractors also point to problems within teamsRead More →

I have been working with marketing technology for the past 5 years. There’s a dizzying array of technologies,  plenty of overlap, and a lot of vague and confusing terminology.  To navigate and create a road map for the future at my work, I’ve created a simple visualization to depict these technologies. I started with a simple marketing funnel, but after I arranged everything and stepped back from my diagram, I realized it looked like a snow cone 🙂  If I had better drawing skills this would be a 3D cone, rotating so you could see delivery on one side and measurement on another, but alas, I amRead More →

I’m sure you’ve been there – you’re sitting in a project status meeting, and a manager is going around the room asking for updates on all the assigned tasks: “is this task complete?  No, then what % complete is it?”,  or “this task was at 50% complete last week, what % would you say it is today?” No, just no.  Percent Complete is a Lie.  A complete lie. It gives everyone in the meeting a false sense of progress, masks potential risks, and ultimately leads to schedule slippages.  A task has been stalled at 80% for 3 weeks now, finally it’s starting to become a criticalRead More →

(see also, Jakarta Contrasts) Many folks have asked me, “how did you get to work in Indonesia?”  Well, it was a small chain of events.  I was doing Lotus Notes development work at the time, and Lotus Consulting partnered with my small firm (they were very keen on their partner network) to do several small applications.   One of their managers asked if I could work on a project in New York.  Turns out it was a “troubled project”, a highly visible project that wasn’t going well, and they were at risk of losing the whole contract.  The client was Ernst & Young. As oneRead More →

Agoric Source, LLC is a Houston-based boutique software development firm.  We are somewhat on hiatus, as the principal, Kevin Lacobie, is exploring a career in the corporate world. Agoric Source was created in 2002, and is the 3rd firm co-founded by Kevin Lacobie, the first being Agoric Enterprises, Inc., 1993, in Fairfax, Virginia, and Agorics, Inc., 1995, in Los Altos, California.  Kevin Lacobie has 30+ years experience in the software and IT industry, and with an advanced degree in Economics (MA, George Mason, 1991), brings a unique perspective to the software engineering discipline. Coders like to code, code, code; software designers like to design elegantlyRead More →