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By Ramon Padilla Jr. ·
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Welcome to my blog!

by Ramon Padilla Jr. In reply to Government Technology

I just wanted to take a moment to introduce myself to those of you that
are not familiar with me through my writings as the author of the
Government Technology Newsletters. I am a 17 year technology
veteran (more than that if you count my tinkering before I was actually
employed as an IT professional) who started as a programmmer analyst
and worked my way up to CIO and now as a consultant. I spent 16
of those years in government IT, 5 at the executive level, so I feel
that I have a little knowledge and experience that I can draw upon as I
add to this blog and the newsletters.<br />
<br />
My passion has been and still remains the intelligent application of
technology to solve problems. While I have always had an interest
in the technology just for technology's sake, I get a real kick out of
making technology <em>really work</em>
for an organization. So while you might find a strictly technical
article from me on occasion, most of what I concentrate on are the hows
and whys of technology and how best to manage it in the
organization. After all, if it isnt being managed properly,
technology is probably not doing the organization all that much good.<br />
<br />
So if you find yourself reading this and are new to my writings,
welcome aboard. If you are an old friend, thanks for the
continued readership. In either case, I hope to continue to make
you think, inspire you to act, or in some way possible aid you as you
go about your duties in your organization.<br />
<br />
Thanks for reading!<br />
<br />
Ramon<br />
<br />
<br />
<br />
<i>Keep up with the issues and challenges that uniquely affect
public-sector IT with TechRepublic's free Government IT newsletter,
delivered each Tuesday. <a href="http://nl.com.com/MiniFormHandler?brand=techrepublic&list_id=e068">Automatically sign up today!</a></i><br />

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Welcome to my blog!

by fatfreddy In reply to Welcome to my blog!

Hi Ramon, I am a consultant as well in Sarawak, Malaysia and my company specialises in Government IT consulting. I am very pleased to hear that you are starting this blog.? I will be tracking this blog and will try to contribute in a meaningful manner.? For your information our current charter is on Technical and Information Architectures and some of our projects include implementation of a Technology Life Cycle Management Process and A pilot Taxonomy of the ICT Unit.My very best ! Chin Koon Siang?

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Longhorn gets a real name (Vista). So why am I not excited?

by Ramon Padilla Jr. In reply to Government Technology

<p class="MsoNormal">After what seems to be an eternity, Microsoft is about to
put its next operating system out for beta.
Perhaps I am becoming jaded but the operating system releases from
Microsoft over the years have been more of a relieving of pain from the last
one, rather than excitement over new features.</p>
<p class="MsoNormal">
In this preview: <a href="http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1895,1840730,00.asp">http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1895,1840730,00.asp</a> you will see that Microsoft has gotten a
clue from Unix/Linux and users will no longer run under accounts with
administrator privileges. Additionally,
they are introducing tabbed browsing in IE 7, another take from an existing product
(Firefox for one). Obviously there are more
changes than these so you need to take a look.</p>
<p class="MsoNormal">
Why do I say need?
Well despite statements like this from the article linked above,<br />
 <br />
<i>?It's too
early to see how Vista measures up against competitive operating systems, but a
lot of the more visible features are familiar. Apple's Mac OS X
"Tiger" already has many 3D visual effects and a search interface,
Spotlight. Unix has had usable limited-rights accounts for years. But Vista's
biggest competitor probably isn't any of these?it's previous versions of
Windows. Microsoft needs to make these features more mainstream and make them
attractive to developers, while still retaining compatibility with previous
versions.?<br />
</i><!--[if !supportEmptyParas]--> <br />
- we all know that
there is really no competition for the OS and your ?enterprise licensing
agreement? will help make sure you make the transition to the OS when it comes
out.</p>
<p class="MsoNormal">



Actually, there is competition, but it takes a lot of <i>courage</i> to switch an organization to a
new OS. I believe it can be done and
I?ll share my thoughts on how in the near future.<br />
<br />
<i>Keep up with the issues and challenges that uniquely affect
public-sector IT with TechRepublic's free Government IT newsletter,
delivered each Tuesday. <a href="http://nl.com.com/MiniFormHandler?brand=techrepublic&list_id=e068">Automatically sign up today!</a></i></p>

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Beware the QA bullies

by Ramon Padilla Jr. In reply to Government Technology

<p class="MsoNormal">I came across this blog the other day and it made me want to
scream. <a href="http://www.mindsay.com/comments/gamecoder/37">http://www.mindsay.com/comments/gamecoder/37</a><br />
<br />
Yes, I realize it is about game programming, but there is an important lesson in
there and I promise I will tie it back to government technology shortly. In
order to understand why I wanted to scream I have to set some context for this
blog post. Gunship was a simulation/game of the Apache helicopter that was created
by Microprose circa 1986. Two subsequent releases were done between 1986 and
1999.<br />
<br />
The blog's author does not state which version he was working on, but in
any of the versions, the battlebuilder he created was <i>groundbreaking</i> for the genre at the time. Having played those
games, I would have loved the feature he created. It would have added
tremendously to the game's fun and replayability and surely would have resulted
in even better reviews and sales - thus the reason for my first scream.</p>


<p class="MsoNormal">The reason for my second scream was the fact that Quality
Assurance (QA) was allowed to nix such a major feature (with a pretty lame
excuse) and that the lead programmer allowed it to happen. These two things get
my gander up pretty quickly as I have worked with large government
organizations that have their QA departments wield considerably too much power
? costing the organizations time and money in the realm of application
development.</p>


<p class="MsoNormal">Whenever I see a QA department that has an adversarial
relationship with development, one that derives some sort of sick pleasure in
kicking work back or halting production, I know I am looking at a unit whose
management has lost sight of the purpose of QA.</p>


<p class="MsoNormal">The purpose of a quality assurance system is to ensure that
all products developed/manufactured and supplied meet the organization?s
specifications in full. In the world of software development it means a unit
who is working to make sure that any application developed meets the
organization?s application standards and that the subsequent code is as error
free as possible. </p>
<p class="MsoNormal">Additionally, QA should work to help the software development
team to identify problems as early as possible in the development process. (See
ISO 9126 for a full listing of software quality standards: <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ISO_9126">http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ISO_9126</a>
) It is no secret that catching problems earlier in the process is much more
cost effective than catching them late in production.</p>


<p class="MsoNormal">What QA is not supposed to be about is hindrance and
suppression of innovation and creativeness. QA is not about design nor are they
the design experts. While they can offer valuable feedback regarding
functionality and ease of use, that is not their primary role nor should they
have the power to "fail" a product because they don't
"like" a particular feature. You laugh, yet I have had software fail
QA because the head of QA did not like the screen design - yet the customer not
only approved the design, they suggested it.</p>


<p class="MsoNormal">Besides losing sight of what QA is about, management that
lets the above situations happen is grossly negligent. Software development by
its nature is a process that starts behind schedule and over budget. Most
software development is in response to a need ? one that is usually causing the
organization some level of "pain". Therefore, the desire for the
software solution is high and the time for it to be delivered was
"yesterday". In addition, whatever amount of money is budgeted for
the solution, it always seems "too much" to the client, yet not
enough for the developer. Allowing the QA unit to wield such power as to add
considerable delay and expense to a project for <i>subjective</i> reasons is not only bad management but poor customer
service.</p>


<p class="MsoNormal"><!--[if !supportEmptyParas]-->In the blog that inspired me to write this piece, the QA
department's response should have been, "<em>We haven?t encountered something
like this. Help us devise some tests that we can use to make sure this piece is
operating as intended." </em>Similarly, the lead programmer should have had the
backbone to say, <em>"This is an important feature that clearly adds value to
our product. Let?s work together to find a way to test it."</em> </p>
<p class="MsoNormal">Please don?t mistake my ranting as a knock on QA. It is
extremely important and, if applied correctly, is a critical part of the software
development process. However, like anything else, if not performed and managed
properly, it can prove detrimental to the organization. Have you examined the
role of QA in your software development process lately? What kind of
relationship does QA have with your application developers? Are you aware of
how much time and effort you might be losing due to the relationship? Now might
be the time to check things out.</p>
<em><i>Keep up with the issues and challenges that uniquely affect
public-sector IT with TechRepublic's free Government IT newsletter,
delivered each Tuesday. <a href="http://nl.com.com/MiniFormHandler?brand=techrepublic&list_id=e068">Automatically sign up today!</a></i><br />
</em>

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Beware the QA bullies

by NoStaff In reply to Beware the QA bullies

How again did this tie back to government IT? Were the QA decisions politically motivated? Is the process flawed due to organizational design? I do not see your connection of this post to Government IT at all.

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Beware the QA bullies

by damunzy In reply to Beware the QA bullies

Seems like it is a comment on software design in general. Not that I am complaining. I work in QA and we normally get ignored when we bring up issues, so I don't think that this situation will be happening to us anytime soon. :)

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Beware the QA bullies

by Ramon Padilla Jr. In reply to Beware the QA bullies

Regarding "What does this have to do with government?"  If I had
said it was politically motivated would that have made it more
government?  Politics happens in both the public and private
sector.  What I mentioned but perhaps not directly enough, is that
I have seen this behavior (mismanaged QA) frequently in the government
sector.  Why?  I suppose part of the reason is that often
times people get placed into positions of authority (such as head of
QA) based on longevity or as a political favor in government more often
than they do in the private sector.  I'm sure there are many more
reasons.  Regardless, the point is that it is a bad practice no
matter what sector you are referring to.  QA shouldn't be run
differently based on sector - best practices apply equally to both.

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Beware the QA bullies

by jnatteford In reply to Beware the QA bullies

I am currently doing system development consulting work with two similar government organizations -- one which has a large and formal QA department and processes and another which has absolutely no testing or QA at all.  I'm surprised that I prefer working with the organization with the more robust QA process because it relieves me of some of the testing/QA burden and responsibility and, as one would expect, the quality of the final outputs are improved.

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Beware the QA bullies

by john In reply to Beware the QA bullies

<p>Both the QA department & the programmers gave up too easily.</p>
<p>There is a pretty good solution for this that isn't difficult to figure out.  Why couldn't they store the randomly generated scenario into a file which is automatically deleted after a certain amount of time?</p>
<p>Then if there was a problem; support could request the scenario file, load the file, and repeat the problem.</p>
<p>IMO-They gave up and lost a major benefit.</p>

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Mired in Methodology

by Ramon Padilla Jr. In reply to Government Technology

<p>A colleague of mine and me often use the term M&Ms when
describing an IT organization or a component of one ? as in ?They are just a
bunch of M&Ms?. When doing so, we aren?t referring to chocolaty goodness but
the fact that they are mired in methodology.</p>
<p>You know what this is.
This is when a group has decided for whatever reasons that process is an
end unto itself. When methods are what
drives the work and not the product.</p>
<p>I see this quite a bit in government, particularly regarding
project management. Often, project
management is looked upon as a panacea and that it can cure all ills regarding IT
projects. So the organization adopts a
project management framework designed to launch the space shuttle and then
requires all its projects to fit this framework, both large and small - failing
to realize that your project management methodology needs to scale with the
size of your project. The result?
Projects that may or may not be successful but take forever to be
completed.</p>
<p>Want to know how to suck the enthusiasm out of both your
staff AND the clients of your services?
Burden them with unnecessary and/or over complicated processes and procedures
in order to get anything done. Soon you
will have nothing but a bunch of automatons going through the steps and clients
who refuse to deal with you. On top of
that you will develop a clientele that wrongfully hate all project management
and any other processes and procedures because they equate it with your inefficiency
and ineffectiveness.</p>
<p>Are you an M&M?
If so, it might be worth taking a hard look at your processes and
methodologies and see where they can be streamlined and improved. Make sure project management is not being
done for the sake of itself, and by all means ? ask your customers how they
feel about it. If you dare!</p>
<p><em><i>Keep up with the issues and challenges that uniquely affect
public-sector IT with TechRepublic's free Government IT newsletter,
delivered each Tuesday. <a href="http://nl.com.com/MiniFormHandler?brand=techrepublic&list_id=e068">Automatically sign up today!</a></i></em>
</p>

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