Obituary: Colin Tully

09 January 2008

Distinguished engineer and BCS Fellow Colin Tully passed away on 27 December, at the age of 71, and will be very much missed by the BCS, with whom he'd had a long association.

EurIng Professor Colin Tully MA (Cantab) FBCS CEng CITP will probably be best remembered for his research into the domains of software engineering and information systems, including: software processes, capability maturity models, software life cycles and method and tool integration.

After graduating in economics from Cambridge he began his career with LEO Computers in 1960 and from that time worked continuously in the field of software and systems.

In 1961 he was one of the two-person team who machine-coded the LEO III Master Routine, the world's first commercial multi-programming operating system. He subsequently gained wide experience in systems development, training, consultancy, and academic and industrial research & management, through time spent with Touche Ross, the London School of Economics, the University of York, the research laboratories of STC Technology Limited, and the Cranfield Institute of Technology. 

He remained active in both information systems and software engineering, with specialisations in databases and software development environments and played a leading part in three national collaborative projects on development environments within the UK Alvey Research Programme.

From 1989 to 2001 he practised as a consulting software and systems engineer under the name Colin Tully Associates, specialising in systems/software engineering process and capability improvement and gaining an international reputation in that field.

He also had extensive involvement in the European Commission's ESPRIT and ESSI programmes, including international collaborative projects on development environments and process improvement, and served frequently as a proposal evaluator and project reviewer for the Commission. Toward the end of that period he acted as technical director of the European Software Process Improvement Foundation, as a senior consultant with the Cutter Consortium and as visiting scientist for the Quality Assurance Institute (India).

In February 2001 he was appointed professor of software practice in the school of computing science at Middlesex University. In December of the same year he accepted a full-time management role as the school's director of research and postgraduate studies. From September 2006 he was emeritus professor in the school of computing science, continuing his research interests and supervising PhD students.

Colin was also editor-in-chief of the journal Software Process: Improvement and Practice and was a very active member of NHS23, a group of UK academics who are committed to achieving a review of the NHS National Programme for IT (NPfIT), the world's largest civilian IT programme. When asked to justify the NHS23 group's efforts with regard to this programme Professor Tully had responded: 'How can observing yourself and your problems and seeing what works and what doesn't be bad?'

Colin retired from the post of associate dean at Middlesex last year, but was still very much part of the academic community.