Thursday, February 21, 2013

Pipelines and flow 1st thoughts

Pipelines and project management. Do these things go together? What are we talking about here?

We're talking about flow... Flow is something every project office manages at one time or another. Stuff moves through the pipe from requirements to deliverables. Sometimes, it needs a bit of help to move it along (We're from the project office and we're here to help!)

Fair enough, but how to help? .... Answer: do the math!

Look at this
Scenario: you've got to certify an object by testing it until you get 100 passes (of the test); or, you have 100 objects that need to pass a test. In this latter case, each object is similar (not identical necessarily) and thus the same test applies... thus, the same test parameters apply.

Expectations: From benchmarks or other calibrated input -- or from an educated guess that you will validate with actual observations -- you (your test manager) estimate -- because you can't know this for a certainty -- that:
  • On the first attempt at the test, 40% of the tests will fail (Yikes!)
  • On the second attempt at the test -- after some diagnosis and refactoring -- 20% of the original population will fail a second time, in this case 20 of the original 100. More work needed.
  • On the third attempt at the test -- after more fix and repair -- all 100 objects have passed. 
Do the math:

  • On the first attempt at the test, 60 objects pass, 40 fail and require rework
  • The second test is a test of the 40 reworked objects; 20 fail (by scenario estimate) and 20 pass. Now there are 80 passes total and 20 back in for a second rework
  • On the third test, all remaining 20 pass (Amen!)
Fair enough. But, how many objects passed down the pipeline? And how much effort did this take?
  • Pipeline flow: 100 + 40 + 20 = 160 objects
  • Test setup for a scope of 160 (resource commitment, test facility reservation, etc), NOT 100
  • 160 units of testing. Effort or flow multiplier of 1.6 on this object-testing process. (call it a 60-20-20 process). Other ratios will yield different multipliers.
  • 40 units of 1st order fix (1st order fixes may be easier than 2nd order fixes)
  • 20 units of 2nd order fix (the harder stuff to fix)
For the resource planner, you've now got the data estimates for all the pipeline processes, the flow parameters, and the monitor/control metrics at various inspection points. Nothing else needed. Time to test.