Friday, March 01, 2002

Am I Certifiable? Some would say yes before they hear the full question. In fact I am considering pursuing certification as an Oracle Certified Professional. My reasons are simple: (1) Oracle is an industrial strength database that is one of two choices for high-availability systems (the other is IBM's DB2), (2) back-end databases are the foundation of e-commerce, ERP, CRM and knowledge management, so being certified in Oracle will enable me to add value to any project to which I'm likely to be assigned, and (3) it is about the data - everything else is there to facilitate using it properly. If you read Mike's 28 February entry in Postcards from the Revolution you'll see what I mean.

Process and Structure. I've obviously been researching Oracle and found some interesting sites and documents that I want to share:

Risk & Opportunity. Much of Mike's latest writing here and in Postcards from the Revolution is about quality, project management and processes. Get into any of those topics and you'll find risk management at or near the core. A risk is an opportunity in disguise. The difference between a disaster and an opportunity is calculation - a calculated risk is one in which you know the probability of the risk and what it will cost if it does occur. Using Probability times cost results in an impact. A few papers on risk management that I particularly like are Risky business: what we have yet to learn about software risk management by Shari Lawrence Pfleeger, and A Survey Instrument for Quantifying Software Maintenance Project Risk by George E. Stark and Paul Oman. These papers look at vastly different aspects: one is an essay about how the software engineering community is using flawed techniques to assess and manage development project risk. The other addresses the opposite end of the life cycle by examining risks inherent in software maintenance.

QA professionals who are reading this will want the collection of slides (in PDF format) from a presentation titled Risk-Based Object Oriented Testing. The 20 slides in this document cover risk management in general, and testing OO systems using a risk-based approach in particular.

Mike and I have both reviewed risk management books on Amazon that you should consider if risk management is a topic that interests you:

Process. I'd like to add a few documents to those that Mike provided in his earlier entries this week: Software Defect Reduction Top 10 List by Barry Boehm and Victor Basili shows the first places to look when you're seeking to reduce defects. This is an excellent article and a powerful counter-argument against those who don't believe in process.

Measurement-Based Guidance of Software Projects shares sophisticated software project management techniques that are centered on project planning. With the high failure rate of IT projects, we as a profession need to start embracing techniques that have been proven in other industries. This paper has information that will take us a step closer to that goal. Another article on advanced project management techniques is Statistical Process Control of Project Performance from the March 2002 issue of CrossTalk Magazine. If you're not reading CrossTalk and you're in the applications delivery domain, you should start reading it - you may be competing with someone who does read it for a job or contract, and guess who will probably win out.

TGIF!. The day is quickly melting away, so I'm going to do the same and wish you a wonderful weekend from Azusa, California.

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