Thursday, April 21, 2011

Is there a case for process simplicity

Phillipe Kruchten has a thoughtful posting on software process models, the basic theme of which is 'ever more sophisticated process models haven't delivered on their promises'.

Phillipe uses this quote to make his point:
“… perfection is achieved not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”

Antoine de St. Exupéry, Terre des Hommes, 1939, chap.3

You may not agree with Kruchten's theme, but you might be swimming against the tide. Survey's about software project success and failure are essentially consistent: it's hard to have a successful software project.

Of course, success is measured three ways at least: PM success of invested resources, technical success of project deliverables, and business success of deliverables in the hands of users. There's a lot of blog discussion on the latter point: for every blockbuster like "Angry Bird", there are dozens, if not tens of dozens of techical successes that are user-acceptance failures. This is one of the points about Agile: it's not a success unless the user says it's a success. [By the way, I've not heard if Angry Bird ever paid it's investors back, or not]

It's not just software. It's any intellectual property project, whether it's writing a book, a proposal, or developing a marketing campaign. The process steps can be specified and regulated; the content of each step much less so. It's too much in the eye of the beholder.

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