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Frequently Asked Questions


  1. What are the top three challenges in software development?
  2. What is your unique three-circle strategy?
  3. Why don't you use CMM?

What are the top three challenges in software development?

Development a software system is still a crafting work - a combination of art and engineering. Based on our observation, the top three reasons that software projects have failed are lack of understanding of the requirements, improper architecture and ineffective teamwork.

The most complaints about requirements are "we don't have any requirements?" and "requirements keep changing and how can we shoot a moving target?" Unfortunately, that is the nature of life, if you are a software developer. The main point people miss here is software is not built against the requirements; it is built against software vision, the abstraction of requirements. Also see the next question for our unique way of capturing requirements.

Defining the architecture is definitely the art part of software development. It is particularly hard to do because it is usually contradictory with common engineering wisdoms. For example, even though we can never overstate the importance of teamwork, architecture is better defined by one person, the architect (or chief architect for large scale system). That does not mean the architect can dictate the architecture, or work on the architecture behind the closed door. On the contrary, architect shall listen to people, and unite the whole team around the architecture. In short words, architect must be an effective leader.

The ultimate factor that determines the fate of a software project is the people who they are and who they work with each other. The same technology, the same architecture, the same strategy and even the same process can end up with totally different results. The determining factor is the people on team.

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What is your unique three-circle strategy?

The three-circle strategy is to deal with the changing dynamics of software system requirements. It is proved to be very effective through our years of software development. People usually like to compare the changing requirements to moving targets; if so, the basic idea of three-circle strategy is not to shoot the targets, but to cover them. The outermost circle defines the hard boundary of system capability. Anything outside the circle won't be supported, either now or in the future. The innermost circle defines the core capability of the system. Everything inside the circle must be supported from day one. Usually it is buried in the foggy background and can expand and shift, and that is why people feel that requirements are so hard to capture and impossible to cast in stone. The third circle (the middle one) is bounded by the out circle but fully cover the inner circle. It contains the features that are absolutely required at now, and likely needed in the future. The outcome of requirement analysis is to define the middle circle, which then becomes the basis of building the final system. The middle circle must cover the inner circle, no matter how the inner circle shifts and reforms. Obviously the bigger the middle circle, the higher the development cost and system complexity. Our goal and also our strength are to define the smallest possible middle circle. So we will ask you not only the features you need, but also the features you absolutely don't want, or too expensive to build.

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Why don't you use CMM?

We have been working with our customers and partners on the subject ways of evaluating the quality of software consulting and developing firms. We are aware of the development and progress of CMM. However, at this moment, we are not convinced that CMM has solved the fundamental problem of quality evaluation and can bring the compelling values to our customers. We are also concerned with the high-cost and overhead associated with implementing CMM. At the result, we have no intention of adopting CMM or recommending CMM to our customers.

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