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Posts Tagged ‘SEMAT’

Result-Focused, Or State-Focused?

April 23, 2014 Leave a comment

As I continue to explore/evaluate the relevance of the SEMAT Kernel to the future of software engineering, I’m finding that I’m liking it less and less. (For a quick introduction to the SEMAT Kernel, please go read this post, “Revolution, Or Malarkey?“, and then return back here if you’re still interested in what BD00 has to say.)

One of the principal creators of the SEMAT movement, Ivar Jacobson, subjectively asserts that:

“…using the SEMAT kernel to drive team behavior makes the team result focused instead of document driven or activity centric.” – Ivar Jacobson

Using the patented BD00 method of distorted analysis, let’s explore this bold proclamation further.

In the current definition of the SEMAT kernel, each of the seven top-level alphas in the SEMAT Kernel has a state whose value at any given moment is determined by the sub-states of a set of criteria items in a checklist. In addition, each sub-alpha itself has a checklist-determined state.

“Each state has a checklist that specifies the criteria needed to reach the state. It is these states that make the kernel actionable and enable it to guide the behavior of software development teams.” –  “The Essence Of Software Engineering

SEMAT Checklists

So, let’s look at some numbers for a small, hypothetical, SEMAT-based project. Assume the following definition of our project:

  • 7 Alphas
  • Each alpha has 3 Sub-Alphas
  • Each checklist has 5 Items

With these metrics characterizing our project, we need to continuously track/update:

  • 7 alpha states
  • 7 * 3 = 21 Sub-alpha states
  • 7 * 3 * 5 = 105 checklist item states

Man, that’s a lotto states for our relatively small, 21 sub-alpha project, no? It seems like the SEMAT team could be spending a lot of time in a state of confusion updating the checklist document(s) that dynamically track the state values. Thus,

“…using the SEMAT kernel to drive team behavior makes the team state focused instead of result focused.” – BD00

Unless result == state, Ivar may be mistaken.

All Forked Up

October 23, 2013 2 comments

I dunno who said it, but paraphrasing whoever did:

Science progresses as a succession of funerals.

Even though more accurate and realistic models that characterize the behavior of mass and energy are continuously being discovered, the only way the older physics models die out is when their adherents kick the bucket.

The same dictum holds true for software development methodologies. In the beginning, there was the Traditional (a.k.a waterfall) methodology and its formally codified variations (RUP, MIL-STD-498, CMMI-DEV, your org’s process, etc). Next, came the Agile fork as a revolutionary backlash against the inhumanity inherent to the traditional way of doing things.

Forked Up

The most recent fork in the methodology march is the cerebral SEMAT (Software Engineering Method And Theory) movement. SEMAT can be interpreted (perhaps wrongly) as a counter-revolution against the success of Agile by scorned, closet traditionalists looking to regain power from the agilistas.

Semat Over Agile

On the other hand, perhaps the Agile and SEMAT camps will form an alliance and put the final nail in the coffin of the old traditional way of doing things before its adherents kick the bucket.

Agile plus SEMATSEMAT co-creator Ivar Jacobson seems to think that hitching SEMAT to the Agile gravy train holds promise for better and faster software development techniques.

Agile-SEMAT

Who knows what the future holds? Is another, or should I say, “the next“, fork in the offing?

Agile Overload

June 1, 2013 9 comments

Since I buy a lot of Kindle e-books, Amazon sends me book recommendations all the time. Check out this slew of recently suggested books:

Agile Books

My fave in the list is “Agile In A Flash“.  I’d venture that it’s written for the ultra-busy manager on-the-go who can become an agile expert in a few hours if he/she would only buy and read the book. What’s next? Agile Cliff notes?

Agile” software development has a lot going for it. With its focus on the human-side of development, rapid feedback control loops to remove defects early, and its spirit of intra-team trust, I can think of no better way to develop software-intensive systems. It blows away the old, project-manager-is-king, mechanistic, process-heavy, and untrustful way of “controlling” projects.

However, the word “agile” has become so overloaded (like the word “system“) that….

Everyone is doing agile these days, even those that aren’t – Scott Ambler

Gawd. I’m so fed up with being inundated with “agile” propaganda that I can’t wait for the next big silver bullet to knock it off the throne – as long as the new king isn’t centered around the recently born, fledgling, SEMAT movement.

What about you, dear reader? Do you wish that the software development industry would move on to the next big thingy so we can get giddily excited all over again?

Agile NP

Going Turbo-Agile

May 28, 2013 3 comments

I’m planning on using the state of the art SEMAT kernel to cherry-pick a few “best practices” and concoct a new, proprietary, turbo-agile software development process.  The BD00 Inc. profit deluge will come from teaching 1 hour certification courses all over the world for $2000 a pop. To fund the endeavor, I’m gonna launch a Kickstarter project.

What do you think of my slam dunk plan? See any holes in it?

turbo-agile

Revolution, Or Malarkey?

May 14, 2013 4 comments

BD00 has been following the development of Ivar Jacobson et al’s SEMAT (Software Engineering Method And Theory) work for a while now. He hasn’t decided whether it’s a revolutionary way of thinking about software development or a bunch of pseudo-academic malarkey designed to add funds to the pecuniary coffers of its creators (like the late Watts Humphrey’s, SEI-backed, PSP/TSP?).

To give you (and BD00!) an introductory understanding of SEMAT basics, he’s decided to write about it in this post. The description that follows is an extracted interpretation of SEMAT from Scott Ambler‘s interview of Ivar:  “The Essence of Software Engineering: An Interview with Ivar Jacobson”.

As the figure below shows, the “kernel” is the key concept upon which SEMAT is founded (note that all the boasts, uh, BD00 means, sentences, in the graphic are from Ivar himself).

In its current incarnation, the SEMAT kernel is comprised of seven, fundamental, widely agreed-on “alphas“. Each alpha has a measurable “state” (determined by checklist) at any time during a development endeavor.

SEMAT Kernel

At the next lower level of detail, SEMAT alphas are decomposed into stateful sub-alphas as necessary:

SEMAT Sub-Alphas

As the diagram below attempts to illustrate, the SEMAT kernel and its seven alphas were derived from the common methods available within many existing methodologies (only a few representative methods are shown).

Agile Over SEMAT

In the eyes of a SEMATian, the vision for the future of software development is that customized methods will be derived from the standardized (via the OMG!) kernel’s alphas, sub-alphas, and a library of modular “practices“. Everyone will evolve to speak the SEMAT lingo and everything will be peachy keen: we’ll get more high quality software developed on time and under budget.

SEMAT Practices

OK, now that he’s done writing about it, BD00 has made an initial assessment of the SEMAT: it is a bunch of well-intended malarkey that smacks of Utopian PSP/TSP bravado. SEMAT has some good ideas and it may enjoy a temporary rise in popularity, but it will fall out of favor when the next big silver bullet surfaces – because it won’t deliver what it promises on a grand scale. Of course, like other methodology proponents, SEMAT’s advocates will tout its successes and remain silent about its failures. “If you’re not succeeding, then you’re doing it wrong and you need to hire me/us to help you out.

But wait! BD00 has been wrong so many times before that he can’t remember the last time he was right. So, do your own research, form an opinion, and please report it back here. What do you think the future holds for SEMAT?

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