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Monday, March 9, 2009
Why Software Projects are ALWAYS Delayed...
I think I've just figured out why software projects are almost never delivered on time or on budget. I started thinking about this today, as two pieces of our site were supposed to be delivered over the weekend, but, as usual, didn't show up. I'm not upset - because, well, I'm accustomed to it. I realized it's something I was guilty of too when I gave project estimates. I just need to better plan around it.
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Hey Mark - I actually disagree with you assessment on why projects are late. I think the inability to give accurate estimates is a piece of it but a small one. I agree that they are always late but it is due to the fact that the only way you get people to focus on the details is with time pressure. I can have a project that is 6 months and we will look fine right up until people start freaking out about go-live and thinking through all of the little things that need to be fixed. For this reason, I manage projects with a "pump fake" approach. I always pick a date ahead of when I really need it to go-live and force it to be ready by then. Call it a pilot, beta, etc but it will drive people (both biz and tech) to get serious about requirements, design, construction, and testing before you have to truly deliver to a customer.
Software projects always take the time you give them... so give them less time.
@Scott - I'll concede a bit to your point, because I think you're partly right. And I guess the degree to which each component plays a part in the delay of a project is project specific. But what you suggest is something people face with any project in any domain. As someone who writes code myself, I'm always over-promising, because I don't take into account these unexpected issues. I like to think I can deliver in a set amount of time because I think I'm that good. And I don't think these problems will happen to me. Maybe I'm delusional in thinking that this only applies to me, but I can't tell you how many times I'll stop by a fellow developers desk only to find him stuck on a problem he thought was incredibly simple. For days. Procrastination is at fault in many cases...but in software I find it's often more than that. It's ego too.
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