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Uncommon Sense (for Software)

This blog has been moved to www.UncommonSenseForSoftware.com.

Monday, October 24, 2005

More General Purpose Project Management Theology Isn't Helping Matters!

I spent the bulk of yesterday searching the 'Net for focused, practical project management for software development. What I found was not very inspiring. I have to admit, I've been preaching for a while that overly generalized project management theology doesn't work - at least for software projects. How can I say that? Statistics. 70% of software projects fail. I didn't do the research personally, but it's fairly well known. One particular company (The Standish Group) produced quite a famous report (CHAOS) on the subject if you don't believe me. You can't say things are working when 70% of the projects fail. Something's fundamentally broken.

A couple times this past year, I've gone out in search of the kind of specific nuggets of wisdom and experience that can help dramatically improve the chances of success for software projects. So far however, the project management discipline at large seems to creep along, abstracting ideas further and further out to make them equally applicable to every kind of project, and none.

Here's some of the so-called "wisdom" I've found in my journeys:

[Good Planning] Take the time to plan your project properly. K. Thanks.

[Agreed-Upon Objectives] ...that can be reviewed throughout and at the end of the project to ensure they have been met. Come on now, we all know that no set of product requirements ever look the same at the end of the project as they did at the beginning of the project. How about some help dealing with that?

[Milestones in your Schedule] ...will assist you to measure real progress. Oh we have the milestones alright, trouble is they're never reached on-time.

[Resolve Project Issues in a Timely Manner] Don't slack off. Gotcha.

[Assess Your Risks throughout] ...meeting with your team... We keep telling the project sponsors that changing their mind's every week keeps delaying the delivery of the project, but they don't listen or think we're just whining. Give me something real to go to them with.

The trouble with all of the advice out there that I've seen is that it's ineffectual. It's definitely hard to argue with because on some ultra high-level, it's all true. But that doesn't make it useful. It's like saying, "You need to work hard to be successful." Gee, thanks. Give me something tangible please. Something I can do tomorrow that will have a real impact.

There's another related process called "The Demming Wheel". Plan, Do, Check, Act. (PDCA) [Every good process or methodology needs at least a 3 letter acronym, afterall]. There's a whole lot of fluff behind each phase of course, but it's all so utterly abstract that it's just a vehicle for false hope, unless you can make it tangible. SDLC's (Software Development Life Cycles) are a dime a dozen. Everyone's got one they think is magic. And still, 70% of software projects fail.

I honestly don't understand why more people aren't focusing in on certain types of projects more, when developing methodology. Maybe because the more specific you get, the more you can actually be held accountable. Application development is more than a $10 billion dollar industry. Surely it's big enough now to stop folding it in with the project management mother ship and create a specialty around just managing software projects, with all of their unique challenges, risks and techniques?

This is what I'm currently working on in the shadows right now, with Devshop.com. I plan to blow your minds in the new year. My big bold claim is that I've boiled down the essential elements of success for software projects, and am building a product around it to capture and share it all with you. It may not be applicable to any other kind of project, but for software projects, there's nothing else that can touch it.


  • The success is based on strategic management actions and utilizing suitable tools that extend human thinking and describing the scope in a detailed enough level. Project management is all about managing and meeting expectations. Using different tools this project management task become very easy and less time consuming. keep sharing such useful post.

    By Blogger Gracie Christina, at June 27, 2013 1:35 AM  

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