Software Engineering Research in Product Development Flow


Good research is critical to building the body of knowledge of software engineering, and understanding the principles on which our industry is built. Even more, without the solid foundation of theory that comes from research, it is difficult to scale the practices we use in industry beyond a limited context. Lero, the Irish Software Engineering Research Centre, hosted an Industry Research Day today, to highlight and share some of the great software engineering research work that goes on at the Centre.

There are some great talks from partner companies including IBM, Intel, and St. James’s Hospital, Dublin. There are keynotes by Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, the current European European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, and Seán Sherlock, the current Minister of State for Research and Innovation. It is great to see the richness and variety of software engineering research going on in Ireland, and the support available at both an EU and national government level.

My talk is a short summary of my ongoing PhD research work. I talk about learning and feedback cycles, learning to see impediments to flow, and some examples of how to see impediments in your team and organisation. I also talked about some preliminary research results, including how to tell who is really influencing flow and impediments in your organisation, what reaction time can tell us about threats and opportunities, and how to empower teams and engage management through an impediment removal process.

Slides from my talk are available here:

PhD in Stakeholder Management applied to Agile and Lean Organizations

I have always been interested in research – exploration, discovery, figuring things out, solving problems. I’m curious by nature and enjoy a good problem to solve. One of the things that appeals to me about working in R&D organizations is the emphasis in attention on both research and development. I’ve had the opportunity to work in different industries and different problem domains over the years, and on a wide variety of different products and systems.

I’ve been working with agile development methods (initially XP, later Scrum, Crystal and others) since around 1999, and in more recent years with Lean and Kanban. Throughout that time I have developed a deep interest in understanding what makes effective organizations work. One thing I have become acutely aware of over the years is that everything in software development comes down to people – the people themselves, yes, but also the organizations that people choose to put in place, and the organizations that are put in place around them.

For a few years I had been thinking about doing a PhD. In 2009 I registered as a PhD student with National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG), while still continuing to work full time. I’m hoping to be complete in around 2012. I’m also fortunate enough that I can apply research ideas in the context of my day job. We’ll see how it goes.

My area of research is the application of Stakeholder Management principles and stakeholder theory to agile and lean product development organizations. I already have a strong background in agile methods. This gives me the opportunity to dive deep into Stakeholder Management, and understand how Stakeholder Management can benefit agile and lean organizations.