Archive for October, 2006

I ran across some very unique work from the state of Missouri in the area of project oversight the other day. Missouri’s well documented approach to project oversight is not only a great state government practice; it is by far the best documented practice in the public or private sector that I could find in this area. The project oversight methodology was nominated for a NASCIO recognition award in 2004 under the State IT Management category.

The five guidance documents on Missouri’s project oversight website represent a comprehensive, end-to-end project oversight methodology. In addition to detailed process flows, artifact definitions and templates, the methodology also includes simple but very useful explanations, such as the table illustrating the differences between project management and project oversight, which I’ve reproduced below.

Project Oversight in State Government

In my mind, items such as Missouri’s project oversight approach are the types of knowledge capital that would have been great seeds on which to found the Government Open Code Collaborative (GOCC), which I’ve blogged about in the past. Since the GOCC appears to be all but dead, I don’t know what other alternatives are available for inter-State exchange of government practices, outside of NASCIO. I’ve decided to mirror Missouri’s documents on my site and have included links below. Hopefully, Missouri can find a way to proactively open source these documents, even if no common exchange exists for such materials.

Project Oversight, Part 1 (598 KB)
Project Oversight, Part 2 – Chapter 1 (2086.5 KB)
Project Oversight, Part 2 – Chapter 2 (2019.5 KB)
Project Oversight, Part 2 – Chapter 3a (1820.5 KB)
Project Oversight, Part 2 – Chapter 4 (1042 KB)

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Over the last several months, I’ve really been trying to get my arms around SOA and develop a meaningful opinion and knowledge base on this so often used, even more often abused, and ever-more-frequently maligned three letter acronym (TLA). Along the way, I’ve discovered a couple of great resources that have helped shape my thinking and hone my implementation skills on the topic:

Prentice Hall - SOA Book 1Prentice Hall - SOA Book 2

Thomas’s books have helped me to understand how my traditional proxy and wrapper-based viewpoints fit into service design and how I might be able to improve the robustness of SOA interfaces built using these patterns. These books also reinforced my positive experiences with contract-driven design and have rekindled my interest in XML schema definitions, which I haven’t used extensively for years.

  • Enterprise Service Orientation Maturity Model (ESOMM) – “Maturity model… uh oh, here comes the heavy handed approach to SOA”, you might be thinking. In my opinion, however, this is the most dense (that is, succinct and knowledge rich) piece of material about SOA that has been published to date and a must read for anyone looking to role out SOA to their enterprise. The ESOMM defines 4 layers, 3 perspectives, and 27 capabilities required to support a SOA (see diagram below). The maturity levels are based upon SEI’s Capability Maturity Model (CMM), but the similarities pretty much end there. As with the core CMM, think of this as a roadmap towards evaluating and improving your organization’s SOA capabilities – not as a report card.

Enterprise Service Orientation Maturity Model

  • Service-Oriented Analysis and Design (SOAD) – This is a nifty article which seeks to bridge the gaps between the object oriented and business process oriented design and modeling and the requirements of modeling for an SOA. The article does a great job of walking through traditional approaches that most people are familiar with and then adding SOAD-specific elements to the design. The article concludes with a short case study that includes traditional models such as a business process workflow, class diagram, and state diagram and then augmenting this with a service breakdown model and a rather interesting business interaction model (see diagram below) that integrates SOA specific concerns into a more traditional UML sequence diagram.

Service Oriented Analysis and Design

  • Java and .NET Specific Implementation Materials – Jeffrey Hasan’s book Expert Service-Oriented Architecture in C# is by far the best text in the .NET realm. Jeffrey starts with a very solid approach of WSDL and XSD contract driven design and then gradually introduces the new WS-* standards, integrating them one-by-one. The original book covers WSE 2.0 with his newest text covering WSE 3.0. SOA Integration Using Java EE 5 Web Services is the best text that I’ve found from a Java vantage point. I like the fact that this book starts out with REST (Representational State Transfer) type services to show how things look before all of the standards-compliant overhead is added. Good coverage is provided for JAX-WS 2.0, JAXB, and JSR-compliant packaging. The book is not yet available on the open market but the work in progress is available as a “Rough Cut” book through O’Reilly’s Safari.

Expert SOA in C#SOA Integration Using Java EE 5 Web Services

  • BPEL-Specific Materials – BPEL specific implementation details haven’t seemed to make it into any published books yet. The vendors offer a good deal of online materials in this area. To learn it this way though, you’re going to have to commit yourself to a particular implementation. Good materials can be found in the following places:

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In a previous posting, I reviewed the 37signals book Getting Real and encouraged folks to pick up a copy. The good news is that the full text for this book has recently been released online. You can find the HTML version of the book here. You no longer have any excuse not to read it.

Getting Real - The Book

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As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’m a pretty dedicated listener of both the Wall Street Journal Audio Edition and the IT Conversations podcast site. This morning, I caught some great audio from both of them.

Great Audio

IT Conversations – The IT Conversations audio came from the Software 2006 conference series. The focus of the podcast in question was a CIO panel at that conference. Toby Redshaw and Con Goedman, IT executives from Motorola and Shell International, respectively, provide some great insights into the user-focused mentality that it takes to succeed as an IT executive in the corporate world. They are both quite candid, with Mr.Redshaw providing some especially interesting insights and sound bytes. I’ve quoted a couple below:

  • [On dealmaking] “You’ve got to remember, the people that cut the deal aren’t the people that manage the relationship. I don’t care if the [software] salespeople leave with blood coming out of both of their ears. I’m not going to see those guys again.”
  • [On the widespread use of wikis and blogs at Motorola] “Where the real work gets done is down in the ranks that interact with each other and exchange information and build ideas and come to conclusions and do stuff. Management is just overhead.”
  • [On introducing wikis and blogs at Motorola] “I purposefully didn’t tell anyone upstairs or laterally that this was going on until we got to a scale where we couldn’t stop it.”
  • [On vendor dislikes] “The easiest way for you to watch me pull the trap door lever in my office and drop you into a pit of crocodiles is ‘tell me about your problems.’ ‘Hmm… interesting, we have some software that we think will fit your problems.’”
  • [On vendor likes] “I love honesty. My best vendors pull me aside and say ‘you know that idea you have, it’s stupid. Don’t do it, it’s a bad idea and here’s why.’”

Anyone who thinks that IT executives are out of touch needs to give this podcast a listen. These guys are focused on delivering user value, remaining business centric, and they just get it when it comes to understanding what it takes to encourage the type of collaboration and creativity that it takes to differentiate a company’s product or service offerings.

Wall Street Journal – On the other side of things, and totally unrelated to IT or the normal stock option backdating concerns that the WSJ has been so focused on lately was their cover story on the move towards home-based care in Vermont, entitled “Olden Days: Seniors in Vermont Find They Can Go Home Again.”

The article covers an innovative approach being taken in Vermont to move elderly citizens out of facility-based care and into home-based care with their families. Interesting here it that the families are then allowed to collect for the care they provide to their family members (spouses not included). The plan is approved and funded by the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) under a special waiver to normal Medicaid administration protocol. The waiver’s goal is to reduce or cap Vermont’s annual Medicaid funding / spending increase.

These Medicaid expenditures amount to 20% of some state’s budgets and are matched with funding from the federal level as well, providing a huge incentive for innovative ways to reduce these costs. The WSJ audio focuses not on the money side but on the human element instead; telling the story of several individuals whose lives were dramatically improved through participation in Vermont’s program. The audio also paints the assisted living providers as organizations scared of and resistant to change and willing to resort to scare tactics to retain the facility-based care entitlement legally afforded to Vermont’s citizens.

The reason that I found this audio file particularly interesting, aside from the fact that my parents care for my 93 year old grandmother and that my first state government project was on a Medicaid waiver system, is that the story reminds me of why I stick it our with state government projects – the potential to make a difference in peoples’ lives. Transformation programs such as the ones enabled by the Medicaid waivers not only offer the possibility to save money, they afford people the opportunity to lead normal lives, where that otherwise might not be possible. Far beyond the dollars, the bits, and the bytes, this is what really makes a difference.

The Wall Street Journal article is available in printed form or in MP3 format to Audible.com providers. The official text of the Vermont waiver can be found at http://www.dad.state.vt.us/dail/1115Waiver/VTLTCWaivernoappendices.pdf, while a provider-slanted but informative summary can be found at http://www.ahca.org/brief/ib_vtwaiver.pdf.

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I’ve recently been re-reading Scott Ambler’s excellent work on the Enterprise Unified Process and focusing my attention on the strategic reuse discipline, in particular. Dealing with this on a day-in, day-out basis, I’m trying to apply this particularly to the business domain that I work in, state government. I like the way that Scott went about illustrating the enterprise management disciplines with the traditional RUP workflow maps. Above and beyond this, he borrows from an earlier article of his, A Realistic Look at Object-Oriented Reuse, to create a couple of diagrams that really hit home. I’ve taken the opportunity to adopt these diagrams to enterprise work being done in state government. The adopted diagram can be found below.

Hierarchy of State Government Reuse

The comments to the right of the chart demonstrate that there are three coarsely delineated segments of reuse:

  1. Areas where domain-specific reuse is occurring now. Unfortunately, these areas fall towards the lower end of the benefit spectrum. In this segment, wholesale cross-state system transfers are particularly widespread. In many cases, the cost of the system being transferred is negligible or nonexistent due to federal funding rules. However, it is rare when these systems can be transferred without acquiring the knowledge of the people that created them. In many cases, this is an acceptable trade off because the domain in questions is inhospitable to other solutions and orthogonal to the domain for which they were originally created. Make no mistake, however, this is more a reuse of human resources and knowledge capital than it is of system elements.
  2. Areas where domain-specific reuse is not warranted. In the center of the above chart lie frameworks and artifacts. With industry standard processes such as the RUP, MSF, and a variety of Agile processes, there is little need to create domain-specific processes or artifacts. The same holds true for frameworks, where Sun, Microsoft, and a variety of vendors and open source options are likely to be much more stable and better supported than any inhouse created options. This should not preclude you, however, from customizing these processes and frameworks and, as necessary, extending them to meet your exact needs.
  3. Areas where domain-specific reuse should be occurring. These are the higher-order levels of reuse. This includes domain-specific analysis patterns for state government as well as a variety of architected solutions. These solutions may include COTS products such as the one from Curam Software, solutions targeted as cross-cutting domains such as licensing, and leveraging emerging data exchange standards to encourage the sharing of knowledge and data between business partners and communities of practice.

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