Software Executive Magazine

OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2017

Software Executive magazine helps software executives grow their businesses by showcasing the business best practices of our readers, executives from established and innovative software companies.

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5 Software Laws For Smooth Product Development How to ensure your project will stay on schedule and within budget. L A R R Y P U T N A M , J R . Co-CEO & D O N B E C K E T T Principal Consultant, Quantitative Software Management project, and the more data executives and team leaders have, the easier it will be to create an accurate schedule for the next software development project or cycle. LAW 2: SCHEDULE AND COST DO NOT TRADE OFF EVENLY. While unrealistic schedules cause projects to fail, there is no single schedule that will guarantee project success. Projects can be executed under a range of schedules and budgets. Generally, executives can expect that the more aggressive the schedule the higher the cost and, ironi- cally, the poorer the quality of the product. Initially, such a generalization would not seem to make sense. But consider that even as project manag- ers seek to tighten schedules, they often add people to a project. In an ideal world, the additional staff would come on board already up to speed and ready to work. Unfortunately, that is rarely the case when bringing new staff onto a project in progress. Existing staff have to take time away from their tasks to help train new staff. Adding staff can negatively affect quality as well. As staff are added to a project, more communication paths are created, which creates miscommunication. Commu- nication disconnects become a challenge during the QA phase of a project when more people are testing prod- ucts parts, fixing them, and then retesting. If a project already has an unrealistic deadline and staff are added (at increased cost) to get to the finish line, QA is one of the last parts of development and might be "trimmed" from the budget. That may bring a project closer to cost but actually can end up costing more over time because of the need to fix unforeseen errors later on. LAW 3: PROJECTS GROW. Despite the best efforts of development teams, projects in- evitably grow. According to QSM's own research, on aver- age, scope increases 15 percent; schedules, 8 percent; and cost/effort, 16 percent. Executives should keep these per- centages in mind when building initial project schedules usiness leaders want to be at the top of their game when it comes to software de- velopment. After all, making the wrong moves during the development process can cost time and money – and result in bug-ridden, defect-plagued applications. This is not something that corporate executives typically worry about, even though it can directly impact their companies' bottom lines and reputations. Executives are often removed from the daily ins-and-outs of software development and execution by necessity. They envision a compa- ny's whole trajectory, including long-term projects and goals that will lead to profitability. They simply don't have time to be a part of daily development meetings. Even so, executives should take steps to ensure that they are firmly in the loop with software development projects, especially in the critical planning phases prior to project kickoff. One way to do so is to ensure that software development teams are mindful of five core software development laws. Following these laws makes it more likely that high-quality products will be built on schedule and within budget. LAW 1: EVERY SOFTWARE PROJECT HAS A MINIMUM DEVELOPMENT TIME. Unrealistic schedules cause projects to fail. Fred Brooks first identified this law back in 1975 in his book, The Myth- ical Man-Month . Though software has changed drastical- ly, the law remains apt. Developers who set schedules that are too aggressive are doomed to come up short. No amount of wishing, bargaining, or rationalizing will change the fact that deliverables will be late if adequate time is not built into the schedule. Fortunately, organizations can use metrics derived from past projects to forecast how long a new software build is likely to take. This requires some foresight, as businesses need to measure, collect, and analyze certain build data to take full advantage of the power of metrics during fore- casting. It's never too early to start collecting data on a B DEVELOPER RESOURCES Framework By L. Putnam & D. Beckett 5 SOFTWARE LAWS FOR SMOOTH PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT SOFTWAREEXECUTIVEMAG.COM OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2017 30

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