A couple of days ago, at a Sure Step 2010 training at Sundsgården, Helsingborg, Sweden, while students were preparing to take the exam, one of the students asks me where she can download Sure Step 2010. I give her the link, but she tells me: “No, that’s Sure Step 2012, I’d like to download 2010”.
That came as a surprise. “No way” – I say – “It hasn’t yet been released.”
Or has it?
And then I check, and almost can’t believe it – it’s really there. I completely missed the tweets, the Facebook announcement, the LinkedIn discussions. It seems that I’m not particularly social nowadays. A quick check of Twitter shows me that there wasn’t too much buzz around it, and most of the blogosphere simply redelivers the same content, which either comes from the official announcement (which I also missed ) or from whoever blogged first.
Instead of giving a simple “excited” redelivery of the announcement, here’s my take on Sure Step 2012, what’s new, what’s not new (both sadly and thankfully).
What’s New in 2012
A lot. And I am not at all sure if that’s good or bad. I’ll come to that.
Among a lot of updated guidance content, documents and templates, what somehow slips under the radar of most of announcements I’ve read over the couple past two days is the fact that Sure Step 2012 is now available completely online. If you ask me, that’s quite a news, since now it’s not necessary to install a bulky application on your machine. Unfortunately, you need Silverlight to run it, but even that manages not to diminish the importance of this update. It’s moving to the cloud and it kind of proves a point.
Another important news is that Sure Step 2012 comes right away in ten languages, including English, Chinese, Danish, French, German, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Turkish. I haven’t installed and checked each of them, and it wouldn’t make much difference for me even if I did, but it’s fantastic that those folks don’t need to spend time translating it themselves. My language, Croatian, is not supported, but judging from the number of Turkish soap operas running on Croatian TV channels, I deem it not a problem at all.
And now, before I go on with what’s new, I make a short break and ask myself a question – is a methodology something I want to see heavily updated – and the answer is blurry. Were they, and all of us, all that wrong in how we did it so far? I’m not a traditionalist, or a conservative, but it’s about methodology. Do we need a methodology updated every so often? Is there that much to add, or is it about reinventing the wheel?
So, I’ll give my view of what’s new, and what’s not, both from fortunately and unfortunately perspectives.
What’s Fortunately New
I’ll start with the Project Management Library. The alignment with PMBOK is fantastic and if you have experience with it (if you are serious about project management business chances are that you do) Sure Step methods will be so much easier to grasp. There are three major changes in this:
As a PMP, I am excited about the above, but Microsoft folks, if they are reading this, must be scratching their head at this point, because of all things, I start with project management library. Let’s me be fair, and give a list of couple of news:
What’s Unfortunately New
Now we come to a slippery terrain, but I’ll voice my opinion loud, nonetheless. So, here’s the list:
What’s Fortunately Not New
Thankfully, folks over in Redmond didn’t touch the project types and phases, and largely they remain exactly where they were. That makes sense, and increases my confidence in soundness of this release, as methodology should primarily come from experience and what’s proven to work, and not from perceived view of what should be changed.
Decision accelerators were a great thing, and they are all still there. I was slightly afraid they may get a major revamp, because they were a new addition in last release, but all seven are still there, and I’m glad to see them around.
What’s Unfortunately not New in 2012
There are certain aspects of Sure Step which were bad, and should have been updated, but haven’t. And here, I believe it is primarily, if not exclusively about the Alignment with MSF. In my opinion, it’s more of a liability than of an asset.
It looks all nice and geometrical that we have three groups of cross-phase processes, three processes each, but it’s artificial. There are two specific aspects here:
To be slightly more positive about what’s unfortunately not new, I’d say that it’s lacking much hoped for improvements of the Agile project type. I believe that there is so much more to be said and done around Agile, especially around making it truly iterative in all phases, not just Analysis, Design and Development, but I believe I’ll have to wait a future version.
And to be a bit snarky here, what’s unfortunately not new is that the application, after it installs, can be found in Start Menu still under it’s old name: Microsoft Dynamics Sure Step 2010
All in all, this is a great release of Sure Step, and it’s obvious that the team had done a tremendous job. I’m glad that the focus is on products, verticalization and templates, which is precisely where it should be as long as methodology is most important here. There are things to be improved and changed, but having followed Sure Step closely since the first day, I believe Sure Step is really navigating into success
I am particularly excited about the better alignment with PMBOK, as it reassures me that Sure Step team doesn’t spend too much time inventing wheels, but looking how to use those already proven and available.
I am still slightly sad to see that NAV, a powerhorse and biggest driver of Dynamics ERP, is underrepresented in Sure Step. It generates more business, sells better and easier, but is still behind AX in importance in Sure Step, and I hope future versions of Sure Step will do more justice to it.
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