Skip to main content

Software Development terms applied to Home Construction

Let's Invert the typically wrong headed view of Software Development project management as a construction project.  We can map it the other way just to see if it works... to have some fun, to explore the meaning of phrases we toss around quite frequently.

Site Landing Page

Normally Project Management terms come from a construction domain.  We are going to apply the lexicon of modern software to the construction of a home.  We will follow the construction project and meet some of the people doing the work.

This is a very small (8 homes from $600,000 skyward) program in my 30-40 year old neighborhood.

About 6 months ago I saw the programs landing page go up.  It gives casual observers and some of the stakeholders a general idea of the intent of the program.  And most importantly who to contact for additional information if you happen to be interested in their products.

The Refuge program has 8 product projects and has them running independently.  Yet much of their DevOps infrastructure has already been created, connected into the internet grid and stubbed out on-site.

They have spent around a year getting this very basic architectural infrastructure stack created and connected.  It is some of the most expensive work; with lots of planning and sign-off, all unseen to the interested stakeholder.

a Walking Skeleton
So today at the end of August, 2017, the program has 3 projects underway and starting to add value.  The walking skeleton of the 908 Vintner project is looking great.  Let's examine a few of the product's features and the engineers creating them.  Looking closely at the temporary construction and test framework on the right of the skeleton we see two engineers placing shaved pixels precisely onto the 2nd floor dormer feature's facade.  Pixel placement and facade construction is a tedious process in this project.  But the external facade is in the 80% complete phase.
Joey, a facade speciallist

Here is Joey, one of the specialist
(and generalist - very T-shaped engineer) is doing very precise pixel placement for the back-porch feature.

Interface for Fireplace Feature
We also see some of the interfaces have been hung for the sub-feature referred to generally as the back-porch fireplace.  If you zoom in and examine some of the facade's pixels you might find that their CSS techniques are very old school.  This group of engineers are actually utilizing one very high powered pixel-slicers, to make the component edges look very mitered and give that classic red brick look and feel.
a pixel slicing machine

 project infrastructure
Now let's inspect the status of one of the other projects not so far along.  Here we see a plumbing ditch that the DevOps people have requested be installed before the foundation is even laid.  This is site work, and if it is not within spec then major replanning or rework will be required in the project.

We also see on the just barely started project a set of stubbed out services in place on site.  These stubs are functional and highly regulated stubs that are used to boot-strap the projects builds.
Services Stubbed out.

 Next time we will take a look at some of the more functional interior features of the projects.

The Next Project

ground work
As the 2nd project on the program get's underway we see lots of the ground work needing to be done.  It require moving lots of dirt.  Now I question if a home foundation can be laid upon 3 feet of fill dirt.  but I see that the slab is going to have lots of steal and stressing compression cables.

After many of the project's services are located they are stubbed out.  Left here for some future engineer to connect to a functional appliance.  In this industry there is a lot of phased development with interfaces stubbed out.

port holes in firewall
Here's a look at the ground work with a firewall barrier in place.  Looks like they are taking extra precautions at the holes in the firewall.

firewall inspection
Malibu my golden retrieve, is inspecting the firewall, and steal reinforcement for the foundation.  [do we have a term in software for rebar or prestressed concrete components?]

Garbage Collection
But here's a situation I know we could help them... Garbage Collection.  OMG they don't play the game of cleaning up after yourself.  They create lots of trash piles and just expect someone else to come along and pick it up.  They do not recycle their bytes.  The system cost of this portions of the project would be a Lean Waste bonanza.

Initial Data Load

Data Normalized

I've been waiting for this day - the initial data dump.  Here we see a crew (some generalist and a few specialist) working together to insure the initial data in the Foundation is spread out evenly across the various hard drives of the RAID system and doesn't interfere with the stubbed out interface already located.

And just a day later all the data process scripts have normalized the initial data load.

Next someone laid out the plan onto the physical data layer in chalk.  Then I saw a designer of truss systems taking physical measurements (not using the plan).

Wood data dump
Blue firewall/adaptor
A few days later (I think it may take days for the foundation's data to harden) there's a new crew out doing another data dump (but a new type of raw data - this data type is handled very differently than the previous data).  The very next day engineers are hard at work crafting frameworks for features common to all homes.  They build these frameworks from raw data of a base object Wood.  There will be lots of wood put into this project, and that wood base object will have many customizations, extensions, and specializations applied.  The wood and concrete interface will also be treated with a special interface firewall adaptor.  I'm not sure if this is a water firewall or an insect firewall - it may be a new air firewall component.

Wood Frameworks

See Also:

Strategic and Tactical IT Assets by Dave Nicolette


Most Popular on Agile Complexification Inverter

Exercise:: Definition of Ready & Done

Assuming you are on a Scrum/Agile software development team, then one of the first 'working agreements' you have created with your team is a 'Definition of Done' - right?

Oh - you don't have a definition of what aspects a user story that is done will exhibit. Well then, you need to create a list of attributes of a done story. One way to do this would be to Google 'definition of done' ... here let me do that for you: Then you could just use someone else's definition - there DONE!

But that would be cheating -- right? It is not the artifact - the list of done criteria, that is important for your team - it is the act of doing it for themselves, it is that shared understanding of having a debate over some of the gray areas that create a true working agreement. If some of the team believes that a story being done means that there can be no bugs found in the code - but some believe that there can be some minor issues - well, then yo…

Do You Put “CSM” After Your Name?

I’ve noticed a new trend—people have been gaining titles. When I was younger, only doctors had initials (like MD) after their names. I always figured that was because society held doctors, and sometime priests (OFM) in such high regard that we wanted to point out their higher learning. I hope it was to encourage others to apply themselves in school and become doctors also. Could it have been boastful?

The Wikipedia describes these “post-nominal initials”:
Post-nominal letters, also called post-nominal initials, are letters placed after the name of a person to indicate that the individual holds a position, educational degree, accreditation, office, or honor. An individual may use several different sets of post-nominal letters. The order in which these are listed after a name is based on the order of precedence and category of the order. That’s good enough for me.
So I ask you: is the use of CSM or CSP an appropriate use of post-nominal initials?
If your not an agilista, you may wonder …

David's notes on "Drive"

- "The Surprising Truth about what Motivates Us" by Dan Pink.

Amazon book order
What I notice first and really like is the subtle implication in the shadow of the "i" in Drive is a person taking one step in a running motion.  This brings to mind the old saying - "there is no I in TEAM".  There is however a ME in TEAM, and there is an I in DRIVE.  And when one talks about motivating a team or an individual - it all starts with - what's in it for me.


Pink starts with an early experiment with monkeys on problem solving.  Seems the monkeys were much better problem solver's than the scientist thought they should be.  This 1949 experiment is explained as the early understanding of motivation.  At the time there were two main drivers of motivation:  biological & external influences.  Harry F. Harlow defines the third drive in a novel theory:  "The performance of the task provided intrinsic reward" (p 3).  This is Dan Pink's M…

Situational Leadership II Model & Theory

Have you ever been in a situation where you thought the technique needed to move forward was one thing, yet the person leading (your leader) assumed something else was what was needed?  Did you feel misaligned, unheard, marginalized?  Would you believe that 54% of all leaders only use ONE style of leadership - regardless of the situation?  Does that one style of leading work well for the many levels of development we see on a team?

Perhaps your team should investigate one of the most widely used leadership models in the world ("used to train over 5 million managers in the world’s most respected organizations").  And it's not just for the leaders.  The training is most effective when everyone receives the training and uses the model.  The use of a ubiquitous language on your team is a collaboration accelerator.  When everyone is using the same mental model, speaking the same vernacular hours of frustration and discussion may be curtailed, and alignment achieved, outcomes …

Definition of Done - the Ty varaint

Every time I meet Ty Crockett at an event he shakes my hand and mentions how many people he's helped to understand their team's Definition of Done or Ready using the card deck I create some years back.  He's not bragging (but he should be) he's thanking me.  But the fun thing is that Ty has evolved a better practice than I did.  Maybe it's the repetition and small variations that has lead to the improvement.  Yeah - I think that's it.

I may get this wrong ... but Ty's variation goes some thing like this...

Start with a big board. Divided into 3 sections.  Introduce the concept of Brainstorming... Add dividers to talk about how to organize the outputs of the brainstorm. 
I usually print out DoD cards but do not show them to the team until we have a discussion on the types of things they need to consider. For example: Here is a section out of the PSM course that I always ask teams to consider…

They create their own cards and ideas (on sticky notes). Ty brings out…