It is folly for man to pray to the gods for that which he has the power to obtain for himself.

- Epicurus

Assessments. Actions.

Davenport Consulting brings solutions.


Motivation for Change

Pivotal Event





  • New management brought in to take company to next level.
  • New VP / Eng wanted insurance before committing to schedule.
  • Davenport Consulting assessed Engineering organization's ability to meet product delivery commitments.
  • Company had excellent technical capabilities but dangerous weaknesses in estimating and QA.
  • Led work breakdown and estimating effort to schedule the release.
  • Introduced defect prediction metrics and Release Criteria.
  • Project slipped by only 3 weeks over 9 months. (Even adding HTML during Beta!
(Pro- Business)
  • CTO wanted enhanced performance from Engineering, and had hired staff to inculcate SEI CMM(I) practices.
  • An important potential customer was dissatisfied with the organization's ability to deliver product.
  • Examined actual understanding and use of SEI CMM(I) key practices.
  • Found too much time spent on slideware and complaining, too little on making basic improvements.
  • New expertise brought in to own the Product Lifecyle.
  • SCM and Release Engineering practices brought up to industry best practices and automated.
  • Release dependability and quality soared, while build and release engineering productivity increased fourfold.


  • CEO wanted trusted assessment of the company’s ability to deliver on schedule, unhappy with problems he sensed from finger-pointing.
  • Board of Directors wanted due diligence prior to going for a new round of funding.
  • Assessment of an offshore Engineering organization's ability to keep its product delivery commitments.
  • Found that communication failures within senior management had the result of hiding important problems from CEO.
  • Showed that the probable delivery date was at least 6 months later than the projected date.
  • Rather than going for new funding, the Board shut the company down and sold its technology.

BMC Software

  • Lack of synchronization between application development groups and the platform development group.
  • Product delivery cycles were too long.
  • New Engineering groups were being acquired.
  • New VP of Engineering wanted consistent way to appraise projects at key common progress points.
  • Determined engineering readiness for a common, iterative development methodology.
  • Identified cultural and organizational impediments as well as critical success factors.
  • Created and led cross-functional core team in the definition and roll-out of an Agile iterative methodology.
  • Enabled assimilation of Marimba, Remedy, and Viadyne into a cohesive engineering team in under 6 months.
  • Reduced delivery horizons from 18+ months to <12.


  • Repeated failures to meet date commitments to customers in delivering a major new product. (This was a huge project --  involving more than 100 people across the U.S.)
  • Executive Management needed to decide whether to re-organize the new initiative or cancel it.
  • Analysis to determine causes of inability to deliver new service offerings after repeated schedule slips.
  • Established and led a cross-functional PMO in developing an integrated (and realistic) project plan.
  • Created monthly Critical Metrics Reports to show bottlenecks and inefficiencies across the project, from Client Services set-up to P/R Technical Support.
  • The re-organized initiative was launched and it succeeded.


  • CTO unhappy with problems of late deliveries, internal finger pointing.
  • CTO wanted an unbiased, expert assessment of the SW group’s ability to deliver reliable SW in the needed timeframe.
  • New CTO hired to spin SW organization off into a separate company.
  • Discovery of causes and analysis of software group's inability to meet schedule commitments.
  • “Archeology” and evaluation of software architecture.
  • Showed the software group how to successfully defend its estimates and how to report status so that progress became visible to Exec Management.
  • Uncovered and documented the product architecture so that the geographically distributed development teams came to respect each other's work and to collaborate to deliver on time.
Ford Motor Co.
  • Ford's extensive quality improvement programs had resulted in increased operational efficiencies across the board - except in IT.
  • CIO for North American Operations demanded significant increase in IT productivity.
  • The Software Engineering Process Group (SEPG) had been unsuccessful in defining metrics that the CIO could relate to.
  • Analyzed effectiveness of communications between CIO and SEPG.
  • Analyzed causes of resistance to metrics in the IT groups.
  • Defined metrics that IT staff and CIO agreed effectively translated IT work to IT productivity.
  • Designed 18-month roll-out plan for the 5,000-strong IT organization, and monitored it to successful completion.
  • CIO's productivity targets were achieved.


  • Senior management needed to improve profit margins.
  • New system put in place to better track profitability revealed the cost of troubled projects.
  • Review of West Coast consulting projects.
  • Defined early warning system for management by identifying:
    1. Hallmarks of successful projects.
    2. Pitfalls leading to troubled projects.
    3. Key indicators for executive management to monitor project.
  • Changed how Services Management monitored and supported Project Managers' efforts.
  • Project success rates and profits increased.



  • The company's development resources are widely dispersed geographically; multiple version control tools were used, and the SCm and build processes were poorly understood.
  • CVS administrator was leaving the company.
  • Examined existing CVS admin practices and Release Engineering practices.
  • Analyzed configuration of the code base in the CVS repository.
  • Introduced regular and reliable CVS practices, enabling Inxight to cheaply outsource CVS support.
  • Re-organized the code base along component lines; identified and archived obsolete code.
  • Made it easier and faster for developers across teams to understand their common apps and coordinate their work.

Integral Systems

  • CEO was worried that the applications R&D group was not performing as well as it should.
  • An important Sales opportunity required making product commitments.
  • Analyzed both the applications group and the R&D group responsible for developing the platform that the applications were built on.
  • Used project data and industry averages to show that the true cause of schedule slips was upstream – it was the quality of the platform delivered to the apps group.
  • Apps group was able to define and uphhold platform acceptance criteria, so that overall schedule slips became visible earlier.


  • Company was missing its deadlines for delivering new products.
  • Orders of existing products took far too long to ship, adversely impacting customer satisfaction, company revenues and brand value.
  • Important orders were lost or delayed by several weeks.
  • VP of Sales escalated issues to CEO.
  • New COO wanted clear picture of complex interdependencies across the product range.
  • Assessed product development process.
  • Assessed release management and delivery processes.
  • Modeled the order management value chain from sale through order entry, pick list, packaging, and shipping.
  • Implemented a closed-loop order management process -- owned by Sales Ops -- that spanned Release Engineering, Legal and Finance to Shipping and customer Support which reduced order fulfillment to 2 days.
  • Created a “universal” product development process, with defined cross-functional milestones, enabling true end-to-end project planning.
  • Created a push-button build & release process.


  • Desire to integrate new acquisition as quickly and cost effectively as possible.
  • Board of Directors sensed potential problems with integration after acquiring another company.
  • Requested due diligence assessment.
  • Identified strengths and weaknesses of potentially competing projects and technologies in both companies (parent company and company it was acquiring) to recommend integration strategies.
  • Convinced Board that there was a significant difference in the two companies’ technologies and skills, averting a loss (lay-off) of crucial company skills.
  • Company was expanding its Professional Services organization to support Enterprise sales.
  • Loss of several important Enterprise customers.
  • Surveyed Professional Services managers across the country to analyze project failures.
  • Identified inadequate software skills staffing as well as inadequate command of project management skills.
  • Developed a prototype Project Management Bootcamp for the Education division.
Southern Pacific
  • SP was negotiating to outsource its IT to IBM.
  • SP and IBM needed to agree metrics to use in monitoring IT effectiveness under the outsourcing agreement.
  • Analyzed SP's business objectives for outsourcing.
  • Assessed the IT organization's ability to collect and analyze metrics data.
  • Defined a hierarchy of measures that translated IT effort into achievable business performance indicators to meet contractual requirements.
  • Worked with functional managers to define their metrics collection, analyis and reporting processes.
Spike Source
  • This start-up hosts standard Linux stacks for its customers.
  • CEO desired to assure scalability of build & test functions prior to expanding.
  • Mini-audit of the build and test environment at Spike Source.
  • No action needed. The Spike Source build and test environment proves to be among the very best we have ever seen.


  • New CIO wanted insurance before committing to business viability of proposed spin-off.
  • Plan to spin off IT as a software company.
  • Assessment of Engineering organization's ability to deliver credible software products.
  • Showed that developing the necessary skills and technologies to transition to an ISV would be too costly to support the business plan.

U. S. Dept of Commerce

  • The Department of Commerce Director who chaired Working Level Group knew he lacked technical expertise and wanted an expert in the field.
  • U.S. and Japan entered into Joint Science and Technology agreement.
  • Evaluated strengths and weaknesses in U.S. and Japanese technical capabilities to support the Joint Agreement on Science and Technology.
  • Identified Japanese technology areas of particular interest to the U.S., as well as U.S. technology areas to protect.

State of California Gov’t Health / Human Svcs.

  • Quality issues with food stamp program.
  • Federal audit with possibility of large penalties.
  • Review of the processes used to maintain the food stamp application.
  • Discovered insufficient rigor in testing and release management.
  • Introduced full life cycle testing.
  • Initiated a rigorous release management process.
  • Over time, realised a significant reduction in food stamp defects -- from 14% to 2.5%.

Entertainment Conglomerate

  • Business was not happy with the quality of services from IT.
  • New VP of apps was appalled by lack of discipline, process and visibility into projects.
  • Performed reviews of 6 key projects.
  • Assessed basic “blocking and tackling” processes –Project Mgmt (PM), Quality Assurance (QA) and Service Request Mgmt (SR).
  • In collaboration with client defined and implemented PM, QA and SR processes.

Property and Casualty Insurance

  • Key project was behind schedule and over budget.
  • CIO was concerned that the troubled project would not meet commitments being made to the business.
  • Performed in-depth project review.
  • Instituted formal project management processes.
  • Established Project Steering Committee with business participation.
  • Replaced project manager.

Health Insurance

  • Business desired to obtain more value from IT.
  • CIO was under considerable pressure to deliver value to the business.
  • Performed comprehensive review of methods, processes and organization.
  • Assessed the organization using the SEI CMM model.
  • Established new governance process to identify and focus on projects that deliver most value to organization.
  • Began a transformation effort to attain higher levels of SEI CMM maturity.