Wednesday, January 02, 2008

The Crux Of It All

As we kick off 2008, I thought it would be a good idea to get to the crux of the Fusion Applications applications development approach. If the management team in your enterprise only learn one thing about Fusion Applications this year, it should be the idea that Fusion Applications will be developed, released, and implemented on an iterative basis.

The software industry has learned quite a bit over the last 25 years in attempting to understand why software projects succeed or fail. The most important concept to surface in all this learning is the idea of iterations in building software and software systems. Over the years, I have repeatedly seen that software project teams using an iterative approach succeed more often (success being defined as on schedule, within budget, and meeting the challenges originally resulting in the project's inception), while teams utilizing other approaches are more prone to failure.

So, as long as I'm on my soapbox, let me share why the iterative approach works so well in comparison to other approaches. Quoting directly from pages 43 and 44 of Joe Marasco's book, "The Software Development Edge":
The iterative development approach breaks away from the overly rigid waterfall approach that had come to dominate large projects in the eighties. It is an approach that is grounded in risk mitigation, incremental construction, and progress measured by actual working code as opposed to documents. If you need more background on the details of iterative development, see Royce or Kroll and Krutchen.
In my opinion, Marasco's quote applies to software product releases and implementations as well as software development. And I don't think I'm alone in holding this opinion. Somebody (or more likely, several somebodies) at Oracle must agree with me, because several "data points" indicate that the release plan for Fusion Applications is essentially a series of iterative releases:
  • We've heard that Fusion will be an evolutionary journey rather than a specific destination.
  • Oracle's SOA Maturity Model is based on a series of 5 incremental steps on the path to a complete SOA environment.
  • We now know that the first release of an integrated Fusion Applications Suite will not be a full functionality replacement for any of the Applications Unlimited product lines. The functionality will be expanded in later releases.
So the crux of it all is this: both the upcoming stand-alone releases of Fusion sales tools applications and the first release of an integrated Fusion Applications Suite later this year will simply be the initial iterative releases of Fusion Applications. The product releases and the subsequent customer implementations will be like eating a whale sandwich - we'll be doing it one bite at a time and we're just getting started.

In terms of understanding the future of your enterprise as it relates to Fusion Applications, this is the most important thing...

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