Monday, August 27, 2007

Prototyping and proof of concept: This is fun!

This is fun if project managers get that POCs are crucial to the decision making process:

  • When someone on the team says “The way I did it at company X…”, but this way doesn’t feel right, prototyping should be considered to detail the pros and cons of the solution.
  • Every project has at least a few gray areas where the business users aren’t quite sure what they want and say they’d like to “see” something.

The fun part is actually working out some of the pieces of the puzzle. It’s also satisfying to prove to yourself and others that your gut feeling was right, or that it was wrong, but not as wrong as everyone thought. Here are some of the pieces to the puzzle that you may be able to figure out:

  • Is the customization possible? What is the level of complexity?
  • How many resources are needed and what type to achieve the functionality requested?
  • Is the estimated amount of servers of the infrastructure correct?
  • Will the application solution perform to the user’s expectations?
  • Will the schedule slip because of the functionality required?

Setting a POC sandbox also allows for installation experience and a preview into some of the issues that you’ll have to solve later. For example, when was the last time an installation of a Documentum product went exactly according to the installation documentation? Is your database administrator new to Documentum databases? This would be a good chance to get through the DBA headaches.

What about storage requirements? After loading up some dummy data, does the total disk space estimate make sense? When the dev, test, and production environments are taken into account including extra room for migrations, is there still enough space?

TBO vs. WDK customizations
I really like TBOs. They are very useful to making changes to attributes during all content operations. There will be times when you look at a customization to a drop down in the UI to achieve some kind of functionality and it occurs to you that it could be done with a TBO. Prototyping will help you work through the reality of that idea.

The bottom line is that you will be dealing with scope creep if you don’t prototype solutions when it makes sense to do so. When someone says “we need to customize” , make sure through a test of the functionality of the application that it’s not just a configuration. The WDK can be very flexible in terms of configuration and TBOs are great to use for customizations.

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