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Attendees Focus on Delivering Agility with Discipline at TSP Symposium 2012


September 26, 2012—The Carnegie Mellon Software Engineering Institute (SEI) hosted more than 100 attendees at the Team Software Process (TSP) Symposium 2012 on September 17-20 in St. Petersburg, Fla. The technical program included tutorials, sessions, and keynote presentations centered on the theme Delivering Agility with Discipline.

“The TSP technologists recognized an opportunity to begin to redefine the concept of agile within the context of TSP, “said William Nichols, senior member of the technical staff at the SEI and TSP Symposium 2012 technical chair. “Discipline means establishing and following work plans, and it is that strong foundation that enables teams to act with agility, giving them the ability to make smart, strategic changes to those plans based on feedback gathered along the way. The combination of agility and discipline enables organizations to effectively plan for quality and deliver defect-free software on time and on budget.”

Three software and systems experts helped to illustrate this idea through keynote addresses delivered each morning of the symposium. Rod Chapman, principal engineer from Altran Praxis, shared his experiences with high-assurance software engineering to introduce the an approach known as "Correctness by Construction," which draws on a strong process and zero defect tolerance culture, evidence-based assurance, static verification, and, therefore, the use of formal methods.

Chapman introduced the concept of formal methods by explaining they are mathematically based techniques and tools that contribute to defect-free software and systems. He acknowledged there are some challenges in using formal methods, and he introduced static verification, also known as static analysis, an idea he used in Personal Software Process (PSP) training. Chapman said the catch with deploying static verification tools to build reliable software is that it requires an enormous amount of discipline and determination. However, Chapman stated, discipline eventually becomes a habit. While formal methods should prevent defects by design, PSP helps to fill in the gaps and yield additional helpful data.

Keynote speaker Girish Seshagiri, CEO, AIS, discussed how TSP enabled AIS to create a strategic, competitive business model and shared his thoughts on the way forward to achieve agility with discipline. He began by asking attendees, "How does a project become a year late? One day at a time. TSP allows you to estimate your work and track progress." He followed with data on how AIS has seen concrete improvements in numerous areas, including schedule and defect removal.

Seshagiri engaged the audience with his list of "Seven Outrageous Commitments"—a nod to the late Watts Humphrey's vow nearly three decades ago to change the world of software engineering. He urged attendees to avoid committing to unrealistic schedules, focus on the metrics that truly matter, and stop depending on test and rework cycle for defect removal. He emphasized the value of creating a sense of purpose and personal accountability for individuals.

"A culture of innovation is possible only in environments where people are respected, self-aware, and practice agility with discipline," said Seshagiri.

Fernando Jaimes, fellow, Tecnológico de Monterrey, shared the journey of the SEI and Tecnológico de Monterrey to improve software quality in the world and elevate Mexican industry in the international outsourcing market with TSP as its technological leverage.

Jaimes spoke about collaborative efforts to create the infrastructure to support the scaling up of the TSP initiative to a national scope, the designation of TSP Strategic Partner as the new operational concept for deployment of TSP throughout the world, and creation of the TSP Organizational Evaluation and Certification (OEC), a request of the Ministry of Economy of the Mexican government. The OEC is the basis for a national database of quality performance indices of the Mexican software industry and is being piloted in several companies.

While there were some barriers to overcome in implementing TSP in Mexico, including culture, cost, and availability of instructors and coaches, Jaimes said the benefits were numerous. The social benefits for Mexico included global sourcing of revenue, organizational growth, creation of new companies, and creation of high-value jobs.

The TSP Symposium 2012 program also included two dozen technical sessions and several organized networking activities. Nearly half of the TSP Symposium 2012 attendees opted to begin their learning and networking on Monday with one of the two full-day tutorials led by the SEI's top TSP technologists. Attendees new to TSP participated in an introductory course, and seasoned professionals took a deeper look into eight stages of development in the quality software journey. On the final morning of the TSP Symposium 2012, James Over, manager, Team Software Process initiative, SEI, shared the location for the eighth annual TSP Symposium: Dallas, Texas.

TSP coaches and PSP instructors concluded the week by attending a workshop during which they heard updates from the SEI, the SEI Partner Network, and the TSP team.