Active Information Corporation
Systems that drive business
Flexible Process for On Target Results
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Value and Result Focused (Software Design) Process
Active Info provides consulting services based on a Value, Result and Solution Focused Consulting model that provides comprehensive solutions which aim to provide exactly what is needed. A diagram of our process as it relates to solutions involving the software development process. All the process areas, shown in boxes, are fuzzy terms covering a wide range of activies, area processes, information elicitation techniques and proccesses, strategies for success and other aspects.
This process was initially applied to software design, however it turns out to be generic as a template for the successful completion of many projects in all kinds of fields.
An aspect of this process is clearly eliciting each process area and finding the linkages to other areas. Documenting the information determined at each process area is important for many reasons, especially later when people forget why things are being done the way they are and why certain decisions were made. As time progresses this documentation helps in understanting past decisions which can help in determining the present state, the desired state and how to arrive at the desired outcomes.
It's interesting to note that many other project processes are contained within this "value and result driven" process. For example, there is nothing stopping a project from being the old sytle of "water fall project". We don't recommend limiting one's project development in that way. This process can assist a "water fall" based project in many ways. Another project process that is common these days is the "iterative development" type of project management. In this design there are a number of successive loops around the development cycle. A project using this type of process can also benefit in many ways from this "value and result driven" process.
Staying on Target
The key is staying on target using a process. How do you know when you are on target and not? Who is to say when you are on target or not? How can you determine if the plan has to change? What are the criteria for success? That is what this process is for. That is what the knowledge obtained from this process is for. Realizing the results. Getting the job done. Adapting as needed during the process, a journey, so that you end up at the desired destination, or at least a place that fits within the criteria of success that is defined by the people's values, vision, needs, requirements and results.
People drive business. Customers drive business. Business owners and staff drive the business. People desire results that satisty, fulfill and nurture their values and needs. All people have values. Values express what is important and most important to people.
Values are about what is important and most important to people. All people have values, wether they are aware of them or not. The key questions are: what is important and most important to you? What has to happen in order for you to feel that your values are actually expressing themselves and occuring in the world? When do you know? These and other questions are desiged to elicit and prioritize your values and to determine your criteria for success.
It has been said that "visions are values projected into the future". Projects need a vision and a commitment driving them towards success. The vision is used to see, imagine and conceive of what is to be done. In conjunction with the values of the key people, vision determines the needs and accordingly guides the selection of the results. Vision drives the design of software projects in, often, dramatic and unpredictable ways.
People have needs that are determined by their values. Needs can clairify a persons values. Needs drive results. Need drives analysis and understanding of requirements. It's important for needs to be clearly identified and tracked back to the values that determine them.
Results satisfy, fulfill and nuture people. Results fulfill needs and in turn claify values.
Requiments are driven by vision and needs. Requrements are also determined by analysis. Requirements drive design.
Analysis is driven by vision and need. Analysis determines requrements. Design requires analysis which in turn may require research.
Research may be required by the analysis and as a results of design requrirements. Research influences design, often in dramatic ways. Design involves research.
Design is at the core and is driven by vision, and in turn influences vision. Design can shape and alter the results. Need drives design as does analysis and requirements. Research influences and can alter design. Design incorporates quality, which in turn influences design. Design determines implementation. Every implmentation has a design.
Quality influences design, which in turn incorporates quality. Quality influences implementation. Quality requries testing, which feeds back and improves the quality.
Implmentation produces results. Every implmentation has and requires a design which is may alter. Design determines implementation, while quality influences implementation. Implementation requires testing, which in turn corrects the implementation.
Testing corrects the implementation and may alter the design. Testing directly improves the quality. Implmenation requires testing.
During the full life cycle of a project the team will spend time in all the various areas. It's important for the success of projects that there is a highest degree of flexibility and freedom to move between these areas.
Depending on the size of the team and the mix of people, different people will tend to hand out in different areas. During differnt times of the project's life there will be different focuses so different cycles will be the main focus of activity. Sometimes you want to focus in on a part of the process, other times on cycles and loops of the process, and then there are times when you want a free for all to simply deal with whatever comes up.
One key notion of these cycles is that they are not fixed. Freedom to move around the process is crucial. These cycles are guides to faciliate discussions and thinking amount the team members working on a project. Looking at some of the common cycles in projects may be useful in recognizing where a project currently needs attention and work, where the people are hangning out the most, what is being done very well and what isn't.
Examples of some possible process cycles within this overall process that are usefull to follow during a project are listed below.
Cycle: People, Values, Vision, Need and Results
A primary cycle in the process involves working with the key people, decision makers and players involved in a project to determine their values, visions, needs and results. This cycle is ongoing throught a project's life cycle, with a lot of focus during the initial phases of the project and during any trouble spots. This process is used to bring the project on "track" towards it's results on a reqular basis. That's the idea of this process, the freedom to focus on what needs doing at the moment with a guidance system that includes all the key aspects of the project. This enables forward movement and momentum without getting stuck due to limitations imposed on projects via strict phases. Nothing can kill a project faster than a straight jacket locking people down to certain areas of the projects process. The freedom to move as needed into any area of the process during the project is one of the most significant commitments that the projects supporters and backers can make. Next to the funding for a project, a commitment to empower the team to get the job done is paramount.
Cycle: Requirements, Analysis, Research, Design
A primary cycle in the process involves requirments, analysis, research and design. These areas of a project are critical for many reasons as they often determine what work needs to get done, the scope of the work, who amoung the team best to do the work, and in recognizing the problem areas. Often this cycle comes at the beginning of a project, however it's important that it continue throughtout the projects life full life time. The whole purpose of this process is to enable what needs to get done to actualy get done whatever the phase of the process that the project is in.
Cycle: Requirements, Analysis, Design, Implementation, Testing, Vision, Values
A primary cycle, that is an enlightened "technology" approach, industry is the loop of requirements, analysis, design, implmentation, testing and back to requirements. This is often called "iterative development" as it makes succesive loops through these process steps, each time narrowing in closer to the results. This is easily observed within this overall process. The interesting thing to note about this particular cycle is that it drives a majority of work during the life of a project.
An aging standard approach from the early days of software development and project management uses a "waterfall method" that puts a straight jacket upon the process at an early stage of the projects development, usually the initial planning phase where needs, results and requiremnets are determined. Usually only one pass is made through this waterfall process. The "rigid" approach has serious flaws since it doesn't reflect the reality of project development, especially in software development projects. The waterfall method is a fantasy that has been bought by too many failed projects.
The reality of software development projects, and most projects in general, is that eveything can't be planned for in advance and adherred to. It's so simple that it's stunning: things change as a project progresses. Project teams need the flexibility to adapt and rigid plans with everything locked down simply won't succeed. Even worse, often the actual results and direction of a project can change while it's still progressing. If you adhere to the, now out of date plan the project is risking failuer.
On the other hand, plans that change too much may not produce the results either. This is where the project leaders values and vision come into play. Everything else in a project derives from these aspects. This is why it's important to include them during the entire duration of a project. When it looks like requirements are channging it's important to check in and see if the values and vision have changed, and if so then adapt as necessary. So, values and vision should be added to this cycle loop as an occasional side trip.
Written by Peter William Lount
The "Value and Result Focused (Software Design) Process" was synthesized, created, and written by Peter William Lount of Active Information Corporation. This process is a synthesis of knowledge that Peter has observed during the course of his software and business career that started over twenty five years ago. Peter uses this process as method of guiding projects towards success.
The "Value and Result Focused (Software Design) Process", including this web page, is copyright 2002 by Peter William Lount, Active Information Corporation, all rights reserved.