Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Traceable + Transparent = Trustable?

After some more reflection ... I think Ive changed my mind regarding someting I wrote about Traceability and TRUST-ability:
Traceabilityis a means of providing transparency while facilitating impact-analysis, conformance, compliance, accountability, reproducibility and learning. I stopped short of including transparency as one of the goals because I guess Ive seen it fall far short of that too many times. I think that if done well, transparency is an effect of traceability. And at the same time I think Ive seen enough examples of people managing to achieve those other goals without being terribly transparent, that as much as I wanted to include transparency and as an overarching goal of traceability, I just couldn't do it!

I think Joe Farah's response in the "Why Traceability" discussion thread on CMCrossroads was right on target. Transparency is supposed to be a by-product of traceability, if its done "right." It's not a "goal" the same way that facilitating impact-analysis, conformance, compliance, accountability, reproducibility and learning are goals. Achieving transparency in each of those areas is what facilitates those goals:
  • Architectural (structural) transparency facilitates impacts analysis
  • Functional (behavioral) transparency facilitates product conformance
  • Process (procedural) transparency facilitates process compliance
  • Project (managerial) transparency facilitates project accountability
  • Build/Baseline (physical) transparency facilitates reproducibility
  • Decision-making (logical) transparency facilitates organizational learning and root-cause analysis

If my attempt at traceability (including the kind mandated by Sarbanes-Oxley) didnt achieve transparency, then I'll go so far as to say it wasnt done "right" or it wasnt done effectively. Traceability may not imply trustability, but traceability done "right" should achieve transparency, and it is transparency that engenders trust by visibly giving an open, honest, accurate and forthcoming accounting of decision-making and work-efforts.

So how can I do that without creating so much additional manual maintenance and administration as to become insurmountable and/or unwieldy? How do others feel they have achieved this?

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