Today’s guest post is from Kemi Lewis (aka Rico Tubbs), senior consultant at Jama Software. Kemi has 21 years of experience in systems engineering in the aerospace industry and considers himself a recovering IBM® DOORS® evangelist.
Q: What are some cool things about yourself?
A: I am lucky enough to train Brazilian Jiujitsu under direct lineage to the original creator, Helio Gracie. The physics geek in me loves how body mechanics and leverage apply in BJJ.
Q: Why are you “aka Rico Tubbs”?
A: I loved Miami Vice as a kid and thought it was a funny stress reliever during the pandemic signing into Zoom meetings to see if anyone got the 80’s pop culture reference, whether it was internal with the CEO/executives or external with a customer – 80% of the time it worked other 20% of having to explain still made people recall their childhood.
Q: What are some challenges you have experienced in your career?
A: Getting people to listen to your technical recommendations or getting others who are at a lower level to be heard in the same respect. This has been due to several factors, everything from what your “title” is, to me looking youthful, to being of West Indian/African American descent, to my calm friendly personality which leads to my input not being taken seriously since I am not yelling my point across. I never understood why executive leadership or program management would throw their engineering teams “under the bus” to save face with the customer. We win as a team and we lose as a team, so why would I go above-and-beyond for anyone who displayed that negative characteristic. Product development only gets better when you incorporate insight from all parties involved, no matter their title.
This stereotyping has also been associated with being the “IBM DOORS guy” vs being a subject matter expert in systems engineering for a given product, where your technical acumen has been dumbed down to a tool or that systems engineering is just IBM DOORS.
Q What led you to your position here at Jama Software?
A: I have been a huge fan of Jama Software ever since discovering it while looking for an alternative to DOORS for a new product development launch. I championed its use at a small engineering company, and then when the small company was acquired by a conglomerate engineering company. When the career opportunity at Jama Software became available via LinkedIn, I jumped at the chance to be able to help other companies be successful using Jama Connect. I only wish Jama Connect had been available to me when I first started working in engineering. From the impact of COVID-19, most teams are requested to do more with less without being provided with ways to enable/empower them to do more with less. Utilizing Jama Connect is an effortless way to increase that efficiency and effectiveness; don’t expect higher product development productivity to magically happen using pixie dust.
Q: What was your first week like at Jama Software?
A: My first week at Jama Software was like drinking from a fire hydrant. The thing I love most about working at Jama Software is the mentality of if you win, I win, and we all win – which is very refreshing.
Q What’s a common myth about (Traditional/Classic) DOORS and can you debunk it?
A: That it is a bad requirements management tool, which it is not. A good analogy – IBM DOORS is like a land-line rotary phone which stopped upgrading after switching to a push-button touch-tone phone and now there are smartphones available, like Jama Connect, which are mobile and make you more productive.
Q: Is (Traditional/Classic) DOORS required by the DoD (Department of Defense)?
A: No. Any DoD contract just requires what tools will be used to manage requirements for the duration of the program.
Q What advice would you give someone thinking about using DOORS for a new project?
A: Will you get FULL collaboration & engagement from your product development team by this tool selection? Well, (Traditional/Classic) DOORS does allow teams to to collaborate – it’s just not modern as one would expect. DOORS is exceedingly difficult to use (in my experience, we had 12 weeks of training only to fumble around in the tool) and administrative intensive with extremely high maintenance costs, e.g., as a small engineering company, IBM DOORS’s licenses and the yearly support and services costs are VERY expensive compared to its competitors, thus this was the driving factor in me looking for a tool with a better ROI, given no one in our product development teams was using it.
Will this tool choice make their productivity better or worse? Jama Connect is much easier to collaborate successfully in product development compared to DOORS, but here are the difference makers you will get with Jama Connect: It’s a web-based tool that works on any OS platform. Social media based actionable comments allow people to resolve the issue just by replying to the comment notification via email without even having to be in the tool. Jama Connect Review Center allows light weight users to engage in and provide feedback only on data relevant to them.
Q What do you wish you had known when you started out?
A: Even if you love IBM DOORS, always keep an open mind as there are other alternatives out there that can make you more productive and not keep your data hostage in a tool.
Q: Can you recall any “bad times” when using IBM DOORS?
A: It amazes me how much time I used to spend hacking/debugging (Traditional/Classic) DOORS DXL scripts just to “TRY” to export some information out of DOORs correctly since the option of using Report/Telelogic Publishing Engine (RPE/TPE) was an expensive product add-on that was not purchased. The hacker engineer in me always liked the debug challenge of getting it to work, but from a productivity standpoint it was terribly inefficient.
Q: In your opinion, what are the best features in Jama Connect?
A: Ease of use. Jama Connect is a simple, intuitive, web-based tool that makes product development teams more collaborative and efficient, since everyone is working from the same source of truth.
Q: How does Jama Connect create new ways of working?
A: Jama Connect provides a more data-centric POV with Living Requirements that create end-to-end project traceability, visibility, and reuse where there is a real time system of record for the active product development process while providing a flexible platform with integrations that support multiple solutions across the ALM-PLM ecosystem.
Here is a Living Requirements dashboard in Jama Connect that now enables you to see what previously was hidden until too late using (Traditional/Classic) DOORS or a document-based solution. By showing process exceptions, risks can be found early and mitigated at the lowest cost.
Q: Does the collaboration in Jama Connect make product development easier for you?
A: 100 times easier. Getting any specification reviewed and approved was painstakingly long in legacy or document-based solutions. You had to export it to Word/Excel then send a chain email which led to a rat’s nest of emails and different versions that were all uncoordinated due to updates being made by each reviewer. And thus, you are constantly merging and resending out the same doc to make sure everyone is reviewing the latest version, in addition to making all the reviewers cognizant of each other’s inputs. So much time was saved not having to constantly merge 10 different versions of a Word document or Excel spreadsheet over multiple iterations. This legacy/document approach taken in the past was the main factor in losing new business via customer RFP bids repeatedly, given the amount of time wasted versus utilizing Jama Connect’s data-centric solution. Jama Connect Review Center made a 70% reduction in engineering hours spent on non-value-added work, review, and approval time.
Q: Are there any resources or advice you can share that has helped you on your journey?
- Be humble. The most success I have had in my career is by treating people how I would want to be treated.Think and act collaboratively.
- Ego can get in the way of excellence. I have personally experience this where if the idea did come from them, it wasn’t an innovative idea thus several years and millions of dollars wasted trying to “recreate the wheel” when a COTs scalable “wheel” solution was already available and an industry standard.
- The bitterness of mediocre quality lingers long after the sweetness of the low price is forgotten.Always look at things for the expected lifecycle duration of their use and do not be shocked when it does last. This has occurred in my career time after time where ONLY the initial cost is considered, yet there is surprise and panic when things start failing and customers are unhappy. It’s just like the three little pigs – a cheap/wooden straw house will not survive the hurricane forces of Mr. Big Bad Wolf! Pay for the bricks!