2
Sep

A lesson learned on sheds

About 8 years ago, I took a stab at building a ‘shed’ in the back garden. This was no ordinary ‘flat pack’ IKEA style shed, rather it was to be brick built, concrete foundations, slate roof, windows with real glass… Only problem was, I had never built a shed before, how hard could it be, right?

Well, anyone who has done this kind of thing will tell you a.) it’s easy to underestimate the effort in terms of time and b.) there really isn’t a very effective instruction manual, with plenty of trial and error involved. Not a great surprise then, it took about 4 months to build, lots of evenings/weekends hauling blocks and assorted lumber of one sort or another.

Shed Version 2

Shed Version 2 evolving

Rolling the clock forward, last year we had moved to a new house. What did we absolutely need? yes, that’s right, a shed. So this time, somewhat older & wiser and with some good experience under my belt, I set out to craft my masterpiece, shed version 2. This time I solicited some help on laying the foundations realizing that getting them level is pretty important, did a much better job on the roof joists and generally did a far better job in about 2/3rds the time.

So, where am I going? Well, co-incidentally, around about the same time that I was building shed number 1, circa 8 years ago, I was also embarking on my first startup; a company in the Requirements Management space called SteelTrace. Indeed, if you’re interested you’ll see this particular ‘shed’ still alive and kicking, it now lives over at Microfocus (http://www.microfocus.com/products/OptimalTrace/Enterprise.asp), albeit a few owners later via my friends at Compuware (http://www.compuware.com) 🙂

… and last year, around about the same time I started shed version 2, was also when I started seriously reflecting on the state of where we are at in IT, in particular on why project failure rates are still so crazily high (https://secure.standishgroup.com/reports/reports.php). Despite my best attempts to make things better with SteelTrace, Standish were telling me things hadn’t got that much better at all. In fact, if you believe the stats, they’d got a whole lot worse!

As with shed number 2, I realised there may be better ways to do things, project success may not be assured after all, simply by adopting a Requirements Management tool.

So we come to VisibleThread. VisibleThread is about first principals. Going back to the basic premise, if people are doing stuff in MS Office, let’s see how we can make the IT process better, yielding better outcomes for the business. Rather than ditching the tooling that 90% of people use, let’s see can we get better quality and better outcomes by embracing MS Office and offering better insight inside the documents, making them come alive. In a nutshell, that’s what we’re up to here at VisibleThread.

In this blog, I will try to share  some (hopefully) interesting observations, giving you an insight into what myself and the VisibleThread team are doing to achieve this goal.

I hope you’ll join me in this new journey. If we have half the craic (as we say in Ireland) along the way, make new friends and solve some real thorny issues while doing it, that will be a great outcome. If you want to stay in touch, why not subscribe to our RSS feed or join us over at linkedin in the ‘Friends of VisibleThread’ group.

hope you can join me,
Fergal.

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