Friday, September 11, 2009

If You Can't Measure It ...

Then you can't improve it. Simple, true, wonderfully profound in its own way, but mainly ignored within the Software Development Community. Software developers consider themselves artists, I understand this, that is my background. You can't measure art, you can critique it, and the market tends to decide what is worthwhile or not. In this day and age, the term is rather overused. At Subway, employees are Sandwich artists, and at the coffee shops, we have Barrista's. But, my degree was in Computer Science, and whether a programmer considers themselves and engineer or a scientist, both of those disciplines require intense scrutiny and measurement. Yet, we seem to have drifted away from that regarding the science of programming.

So, imagine we could come up with a standardize constant measurement lets say a Software Unit (swu). If we had a formalized concept on how to estimate projects in swu's, instead of klocs, person months, etc,. then there would be a way to empirically measure one project against another. Basic software metrics could then be produced that could be used internally and externally to measure how a shop was doing.

For example, productivity becomes: (total project time)/(total swu's). Quality becomes: (total defects)/(total swu's). If we have a quality estimate, then we can set a release standard stating what % of defects need to be removed prior to releasing to the field. Testing coverage could also be defined as: (total test cases)/(total swu's). Suddenly this all becomes very simple, if, we have a constant definitely as this concept of a Software Unit.

Now, this is just not me being the lone wolf in the woods howling at the moon. Carnegie Mellon has a whole department dedicated to Software Metrics,

Of course, what would any reference be without the Wiki reference: In the Wiki case, I especially like the very end of the reference where once can see the links to Function Points, Case Points, and how to integrate these with newer Agile and Scrum development techniques.

From my experience, leaders will find resistance from programmers who never had their work measured before, but, the organization rewards for planning, estimating, process improvement, quality, and timely execution are tremendous and in the end, once the threshold has been crossed, all parties reap in the benefits.

Personally, I am a big fan of metrics and will always pursue them in every development shop I work with. There is always a way to turn the ship to make these work, despite what opposition one may find.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Making Someone's Day ...

Several weeks ago I made a decision to use LinkedIn ( in conjunction with my web page and this blog as my main venue's out into the virtual and business world. As such, I have been spending time out there updating my profile and expanding my connections. Today was just one of those virtual moments that made someone's day, and gave me a smile as well.

Out on LinkedIn I noticed someone I had lost touch with connected to a connection and sent him an invite. Didn't take more than a few minutes and the acceptance came back. I downloaded his vcard (something I really like about LinkedIn) and was comparing his latest contact info with what I had before. I wasn't sure about the phone number and was digging around. Well, go figure, he was doing the same thing and the phone rang and there on caller ID was his number. Deja Vu all over again.

We had a great talk. Times are tough out there and I'm starting up a business, he is trying to find his way into something, but we had a great talk about successes we had together in the past. We both shared what was going on and current challenges. At the end of the call, he made the statement that he'd been a bit down, but reconnecting and having our discussion, it just made his day and put a big smile on his face. Even in the virtual world, put one on mine too and gave me a lift as well.

Seemed like the type of event that belonged in a blog and share that good things are happening even as many are re-finding themselves and are scattered a bit to the wind. Gets me all pumped up to make someone else's day.

Who knows, might even drive some business together ...


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

When People are Scared ....

Attributed to T. Boone Pickens,
"When people are greedy, be scared. When people are scared, be greedy."

Well, there's a lot of fear out there these days. It would be a great time to be greedy, if only one could figure out how to do that? We all need to have the optimism that the current recession will dissipate and a new business normality will emerge. With all the money the government is pouring into it, considering its our (and our kids) money, lets really hope so!

But, an item that few people are understanding is that we are in the midst of a paradigm changing event. The economic storm that is currently waging is one that is scouring the underlying landscape. Those who are hunkering down waiting it out presuming a previous business as usual business mode are in for a big and unpleasant surprise. Much like what happened at the beginning of the decade with the .com bust, things changed and all of us had to find a way to change with it. Those who were best prepared, were the ones that most benefited.

Greed does not have to be immediate. One can look at what is happening now as a great opportunity to be greedy in preparing for the new economic world. Now is the time for those with a strategic eye to be greedy, don't hide, but invest & prepare. If you start when the recovery begins, you are too late, the race has begun anew and you aren't even at the starting line.

Now is the time to seek out the visionaries, whether internal or external to your organization, and prepare. What must be understood is that preparation doesn't come without cost. To be greedy, requires some risk and requires putting together a strategic plan and actually executing on it now, not when the recovery begins. If you are up to speed when the recovery begins, that new wave will take you very far.

Monday, January 26, 2009

CIO vs CTO, What's the difference?

Good question, and the one I have received by far the most feedback on. While everyone is aware of these jobs, there is a wide view of opinions out there (go figure !) One will have no shortage of reference to hone their own view as to what these roles are. Of course, from a business standpoint, I can say whatever I want here, in the end, it is what any specific organization determines what is best for them. That all said, let me try to delineate the discussion especially regarding how KZaiken Enterprises can contribute.

Given the day and age, let's start with the end all of information repositories, Wikipedia. According to Wiki,,
A chief technical officer or chief technology officer (abbreviated as CTO) is an executive position whose holder is focused on scientific and technical issues within an organization. Essentially, a CTO is responsible for the transformation of capital- be it monetary, intellectual, or political- into technology in furtherance of the company's objectives.
Now, as an MBA student, I'm inclined to not give lots of credence to Wiki, as it is not an acceptable reference for all the case studies and papers I currently am producing. But, this is my blog and actually, from my own impressions and research, this is a good definition.

Now, lets look at the other position, the CIO role. Here, Wiki wasn't as helpful. However, I'm more inclined to line up with article in Techrepublic,
Broadly defined, the CIO is responsible for ensuring that the company’s information technology investments are aligned with its strategic business objectives. To this end, the CIO has emerged as the key executive for information assets, operations, and policy. Moreover, in most businesses, the CIO is responsible for the oversight management of such office automation tasks as desktop architecture and support, network implementation, software development, and information management.
To narrow it down, the CIO is more of a business position dealing with internal, more IT related processes. The CTO is a technical position dealing much more with strategic technology and how that can be turned into business opportunity. None of these are set in stone and there is great overlap, and as said earlier, lot's of discussion. One last quote comes from Phil Windley,,

CIOs are primarily concerned with how their company consumes and applies technology. CTOs are primarily concerned with how their company creates and exports technology.
From the perspective of KZaiken Enterprises, I have experience, skills, and continuing education that covers all these areas. From a CTO perspective, I am steeped in technology from the beginning. I have excelled within R&D, with more emphasis on the Research side. I was developing, but they tended very much to be the new, leading edge ideas that came from the research. I have my name on 7 patents, not to mention other significant ideas. I also ran the Office of the CTO while I was at Lakeview Technology. The best compliment I received from customers was the statement, "That's impossible, you can't do that!" My response, "Here's the trial license, let me know what you think."

From the CIO perspective, my qualifications stem from several areas. While I am a technologist at heart, I was also an executive for 14 years. I am well versed on the business side, and to take it to the next level, I am deeply involved in working towards my MBA. I will have that degree within the next 12 months. I worked directly with scores of customers over the years while at Lakeview. Usually, they were the ones with the biggest issues, the tough ones, that's what landed on my desk. Many lessons and skills were learned from this work that ties into the business side, the CIO side. All these experiences and skills I will now bring forth to any new customers I deal with.

Many of the discussions state that the CIO/CTO roles are murky and in many companies they are very much one and the same. Whether you view them distinctly or synonymously, I cover it from all sides and in the end, my customers are the ones that will benefit.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Value of Education

I have always been a fan of a quote attested to John Wooden,"It's what you learn after you know it all that counts!" When I ran all my areas at Lakeview, I was always pushing the budget to be sure there were $$s in place for educational activities. I was also pushing my management team to assure they were working with staff on their needs. Everyone benefited.

Now, I am taking that same principle towards my own goals. Getting an MBA was something I was always intent on doing. But, when you are working 50+ hours a week, traveling, family responsibilities, well, you can do the math. Currently I am at the half way point on earning an MBA from Augsburg College. A line I used in my admission essay stated a reason to attain an MBA was to find out what I had done right, what I had done wrong, what I could have done better and what I just didn't know. Now, at the half way point, I can see I did a lot right, no ttoo much wrong, but really have found out a lot I didn't know and what I could have done better.

I also have been working towards a Project Managment Professional Certification. I always felt I had strong Project Mgmt skills, but same is true here in finding out what I could have done better and didn't realize.

Both of these I wish I could have done long ago. But, it is never too late for anyone and these enhanced skills are ones that anyone I contract with will benefit from. My plan is to continue gaining certifications in all the areas I list as skilled areas.

All customers will benefit from these investments on my part and wanted to make sure all were aware of my plans. Website Comments

So, I have the initial version of my website created. Many thanx to my daughter, Beth, who has recently graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) with a BFA. You can see more of her work at and with her new employer where she is a Sr. Designer.

I am asking anyone with comments whether pro or con, or suggestions for improvements with the website, please post them here.


Friday, January 2, 2009

Welcome to KZaiken Enterprises, Inc. Blog

Up and running! Thanx to anyone and everyone who sees this. This blogstream is just for anyone who wishes to post a congrats or make any (positive) comments about my previous work experience or about the future of KZaiken Enterprises. Once I gain more traction, I will update the website for comments to be posted directly there.