When the Cutter IT folks approached me with the idea of writing another IT advisor and suggested topics such as “what keeps you up at night?” (among others), it hit a nerve as I thought about where the IT industry is at, and how far we have progressed (or not). Here’s my short list of potential “bumps in the night” that bother me as president of Quality Plus Technologies (we provide consulting for sustainable process improvement and project management based on measurement):
- How can we protect our (and our clients’) networks and data from security breaches — especially when software vendors incorporate new “features” that also provide more opportunities for hackers to penetrate our systems?
- If a virus gets through before McAfee or Norton is aware of it, what’s the best solution to contain the damage?
- When will users step forward and really take responsibility for their own software requirements? (For so long, we in IT have allowed customers to abdicate requirements responsibilities to us – and then they wonder why the software doesn’t meet their needs!)
- When will the IT industry as a whole embrace John Boddie’s concepts (from his book The Information Asset) — about software not being a product per se, but more a tool for the business to work more effectively? Related to that, how can we demonstrate to the accountants that IT is an investment rather than an expense, and that a recession is the optimal time to invest in training and development as opposed to laying off the skilled professionals we’ll need as soon as the economy turns around?
- When will customers’ demands for software quality supersede time to market or cost for software? (Can you imagine a world where”date-driven estimating” is no longer the norm?)
- How can we, as an industry, motivate the youth of today to pursue IT as a solid career with longevity when thousands of professionals are laid off each month?
- When will the marketplace trust software developers to work as professionals and spend the appropriate amount of time getting the requirements correct, BEFORE starting on coding? And associately, when will we, as developers and managers, take estimating and project planning seriously using measurement as a basis for accurate estimates? (If you cringe when you hear the phrase “function point analysis,” you haven’t fully explored the potential of appropriate measurements in your processes.)
This is a stockpile of disparate ideas that might be food for thought as our new year opens. On that note, I wish you all the best of health, happiness, and job satisfaction this year — and I’d be interested to hear your comments and ideas about “what might keep YOU up at night.” I look forward to meeting some of you either through the written word, presentations, or business opportunities this year — have a great January!