Re: Outsourced project management – what would you teach to the project manager?

By the same customer care specialist I was asked to come up with a short list on what I'd like to the project manager to know for me to be happy to outsource. Here is the short list:

  • Be able to understand my blog 🙂 – it's mostly written in 'business analyst' language
  • I don't expect him/her to plan the architecture‏ – but still he/she should be able to understand it to a given level‏, especially if it's the architecture his/her company suggest
  • Understanding of tiers (1, 2, 3, N, etc)
  • Understanding of Service Oriented Architecture
  • Understanding of the differences between web and desktop, mobile and desktop, hybrid and native
  • If this is about database as well, understand what is a database, what is a star scheme, what is a cube, what is an rdbms, an olap, a nosql
  • Understanding what is S+S, PaaS, IaaS, SaaS
  • Understanding what is UX, where it has it's place
  • Understanding what is model driven, what is test driven, what is business driven architecture
  • Understanding what is a value chain, what place an ISV or a VAR has in that
  • Understanding what is a user, a developer, a programmer, a power user, etc

What else would you add?

Snow and remote access

Reason for remote workDue to the amount of snow (an example on the right – this is the size of ice slabs I got from under the car) in the recent days I became another one of the remote workers; during which I started to think, whether the current setup of mine is actually suitable for longevitied remote working – and I can declare, it's far from being perfect, but can be made so reasonable quickly. Right now I'm using a Surface RT as my main device as part of a device evaluation, and its possibilities to get it connected to external keyboard, mouse, and display do fit my needs. So what are the missing points? One easy to miss is your seat – to let you ergonomically sit. Another one would be good internet connection – luckily I did not have any issues ever with my provider. Lastly, the comfortable noise level is something I need to invest into. Right now I'm using an old LifeChat device, which suits me most of the cases – save for when I'm doing phone calls. I'm now positively looking into investing into a physical IP phone with headset (hopefully either noise cancelling, wireless or both). What else you try to make your remote work life better? And yes, I'm familiar with the posts of probably one of the biggest remote work enthusiast.

Outsourced project management – what would you teach to the project manager?

Yesterday I submitted nearly a dozen projects for summer internship, covering a wide range of topics from UI mashups to infrastructure developments; and was thinking about what language should I use when describing the projects? A while ago I was chatting with a friend of mine working as a customer care specialist at a company that is basically focusing on outsourcing – he complained he does not understand my blog. Which made me wonder: what courses I'd suggest to take for someone who wants to be able to work in such environment – in 2014. Next to some basics like 'requirements analysis', 'solution architectures' what else would be on the ideal list (eg for someone you would be happy to outsource all of a sudden)?

Enterprise templates

While reading another wonderful piece from Scott Hanselman, it just came to me in a sudden – I it possible, that we still haven't arrived to the age of enterprise templates? What are (or better, were) enterprise templates?

As time evolves, patterns and frameworks also do evolve significantly. Some APIs, features tend to become less useful, less 'modern'. If you happen to work at an enterprise, these might be even put to an official list to avoid, even companies implement tools that either at checkin time or later on, automatically; or manually, using crucible or similar tool do hunt down these anti-APIs. Isn't there an easier way? More than a decade ago I've chosen the following as the title of my thesis: Enterprise Templates and Domain Specific Languages – Enabling Modification of Visual Studio.NET IDEs to Comply with Company Standards and to Enhance Developer Productivity (yes, title brevity wasn't an aim). So, what this was about? Visual Studio (and also Eclipse, IntelliJ, etc) easily allows creation of addons/plugins. One type of these addins is the ability to create a DSL – Domain Specific Language. In my thesis I showed a way with actual implementation on using DSL to recreate the normal development environment, language, base class libraries, etc. – minus those particular features you want to get rid of. You want to introduce a warning if someone uses UrlPathEncode? You want to get rid of the property EnableViewStateMac and default it to be true? All of these is easily possible with enterprise templates.

Why it did not got into the common knowledge? That's a rather good question. Have YOU ever heard of enterprise templates and the possibilities described above?

Final (?) post on business app framework creation

A Purchase Order is a complex object which represents data stored in multiple, sometimes diverse, loosely coupled tables (sometimes these are even not rectangular today). Such complex graph of objects must be persisted in and out of the data base as a unit (not only speaking transactions, but also composition and association). Developers are tend to be more productive when working with the complete object, using a full or a subset of operations, depending on the abstraction level of the underlying framework. Complex object graphs like sales or purchase orders (having 100+ logical and physical tables) are very common in business applications (looking at sap again, probably). The operations running on them support a compensation model – as today's rich user interfaces often interact with multiple services in a given, predefined conversational fashion. As we all expect, these services may not all be read only –and even could be much more complex than crud. For example, each line item in a complex object graph actually calls a service to allocate inventory. As modification to these complex graphs needs to be still acid, these allocations must be rolled back if the user cancels (see reversible operations), or confirmed and persisted if saved. For this to naturally work, the operations should have built-in support for compensation, e.g service oriented transactions. The fact that these operations are reversible and cancellable (e.g restartable) provide guaranteed "forward only" execution (and server side scalability), the integrity is ensured by restarting execution until completed. Moreover, many batch oriented tasks are simply far too large to write compensation logic at once, yet need multiple service, logical (and usually in the end, database) transactions. Of course, in our multi-tenant world, the actions executed support multiple services in a flexible, pluggable model (see dependency injection and service discovery, but no uddi) – some application logic is regularly changed for every customer of the upcoming application (e.g. taxation, commissions); or multiple algorithms are known ahead of time but are applied based on context. And one of the hype topics – BI. BI is desired when the user is working (information at the fingertip), not just when they are actually analyzing information. IMHO, to be usable for the business, BI model has to derive from the original data model, and not the application entity model – this is a mistake easy to make.

Model driven architecture

How does the architecture for such a platform should like? As we are facing it from the business side, let's stay with model driven architecture (people opting for another architecture please leave their comments below). We have the entity, as heart of our abstraction. The entities compose via compositions and associations, forming complex graphs. Entities do have identity (key), their factories, the set of properties, and a set of services (to allow validation of incoming data modification messages). This is where our persistent data abstraction finishes, and our business logic abstraction starts. Former is to handle defaulting, validation and calculated values; latter for handling complex transaction and customization scenarios. What does the latter contain? Cancellable and reversible operations (with possibility for operations to compose other operations for complex business logic chains), that operate on entities. These too have services, that support long running transactions, has parameters, factory, and selectors that for operations capable of supporting multiple services select the relevant at runtime.

These are the first level concepts of a model in my ideal model driven architecture. Moreover, we can define concepts like a change set – set of entities and operations that are running on top of them that can be committed and aborted together; so we are forming transaction abstraction as well. For the entity we can drop in some cubism as well – have measures and dimensions.

 Model Driven Architecture