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10.8 Food for Thought

  1. Who are the stakeholders vying for control on your project? Do you foresee, or are you experiencing, conflicts among these various stakeholders' goals? If so, how will you engage the relevant stakeholders in addressing the conflict?

  2. How can you strike the balance you need on your project between the liabilities and the benefits of an open, COTS-based approach? Are there aspects of your system that are not amenable to this new approach?

  3. How do you currently estimate your costs? If you use a work-breakdown structure (WBS), think about how open systems and the use of COTS products affect that WBS. Are some activities unchanged? Are others new? For the activities that you've done before but will be somehow changed by the use of COTS products and an open systems approach, how will they change? What do you expect to be your primary cost factors?

  4. Figure 10.3 Comparison of unit reproduction costs.

  5. You are talking to a new acquaintance about the potential cost savings of COTS-based and open systems. He argues: "But if I build it, I'll bet my unit reproduction costs are less than with COTS products, where you pay N times the cost of one, unless you get a site license." And he neatly draws the diagram shown in Figure 10.3. How do you respond? What factors and considerations might he be missing? (Hint: There's more to life than copying costs.)

  6. Next, you and this acquaintance discuss rates of change associated with product upgrades. He draws the diagram shown in Figure 10.4. Do you agree with his argument that there is an optimal rate of change? What do you think the optimal range is for your system?

  7. Figure 10.4 Comparison of rates of change.

  8. What do you think the potential is for finding other projects with similar needs and interests with which you can share responsibilities and costs? What approaches can you use to convince people on those projects to work with you?

  9. Creating source code is very different from taking the products of others and making them work together. What is the difference in the mindset and temperament required? Do you have people with the skills and the inclination to take a "black-box" approach to integration?

  10. How would you seek out a contracting officer who is capable of taking a progressive approach? If you don't have any who are known for this in your organization now, how could you go about "creating" one?

  11. An open, COTS-based approach is new for most people. What kinds of incentives do you have in place now for your own personnel and for your contractors or consultants, if you use any, to encourage them to take on this new challenge successfully? If you already have a contract in place, what techniques can you devise to motivate the contractor to change to an open, COTS-based approach within the terms of the existing contract?

  12. The need for market research has been noted at many points. But must every program conduct such market research? If so, duplication of effort will result in significant costs. Develop a strategy for your organization to share costs associated with market research. How would you grade yourself on your success at this?

  13. You are told to decrease your staff by 10 percent. From what job categories will you make the cuts? Suppose that you are told instead to make the 10 percent cut but to increase the use of open systems and COTS products by 25 percent over the next three years. How does your answer change? Do you think you can get the cuts reversed to achieve the 25 percent increase?

  14. You manage an acquisition project and have been told to transition to considerably greater use of open systems and COTS products. Develop a transition plan for a new organization to support this new approach. What's the new organization look like? What are your cost and schedule estimates for completing the transition? How will you manage ongoing work during the _transition?

  15. What changes would you make in your organization to handle the standards and COTS product acquisition activities more efficiently? What criteria do you look for in the leadership position(s)?

  16. Develop a psychological profile that can identify a successful manager for a COTS-based, open system acquisition project. How would the profile differ if you were looking for a manager for a traditional development effort?

  17. You are in charge of a division that has several projects doing open, COTS-based acquisition. Does this change how individual projects are normally staffed? For example, do you take some staff from each project to put on a corporate COTS product IPT (integrated product team) that is a resource for all the projects? What are the pros and cons of this approach? Has power changed in the organization?

  18. Are you surprised that the movie Gandhi is not on the list of top ten films influencing management style (page 198)? Why or why not?

  19. Think about your management and sponsors, too. What if they want you to use open, COTS-based systems when it's not appropriate? How will you convince them? Conversely, what if you want to use an open, COTS-based approach and they are resistant? What could you do to reassure them?

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