Technology Projects – Why are they so hard? The Big Picture is Ignored Technology does not exist in a vacuum – what is the business case for the project? Organization Technology Business Selling the Invisible Users cannot imagine or understand what is needed until they see it Management cannot understand why it costs so much Difficult to measure value of an invisible product Expectations are Unrealistic Users don‟t understand the complexity of writing software Technology often seen as a „silver bullet‟ by management Unpredictability is the norm – machines often don‟t behave as we expect Programmers tend to underestimate time to completion Requirements are mostly not clear at the beginning of the project “Wicked Problem” The problem is not understood until after you start solving it. No one defines the problem in the same way. Constraints and resources to solve the problem change over time. The problem is never solved. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wicked_problems Beware Unintended Consequences Mythical Man-Month http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mythical_Man-Month Planning helps… “Plans are the successfully delivering the value defined by the customers requirements.” http://herdingcats.typepad.com/my_weblog/2007/01/miss_misnformat.html There are many Planning Methodologies… http://herdingcats.typepad.com/my_weblog/project_management/index.html Waterfall Spiral Other Life Cycle Models Incremental Build Rapid Prototyping Rapid Application Development (RAD) Extreme Programming (XP) Improving Success Rates Understand how IT serves the overall business strategy Create documents, flowcharts and other physical artifacts that help the user understand what you are proposing. Attach detailed cost estimates for management that include ROI or other financial information Develop specific measures of value for your project with by establishing baselines Ensure that the problem to be solved is actually a technology problem Prepare your users for the “unknown unknowns” – machines do not always behave as expected Double or triple time estimates from programmers – they never include debugging in their estimates Document, document, document. Requirements will change – document the original spec and all subsequent changes Learn to identify the Wicked Problem and think carefully about unintended consequences Planning helps – pick a methodology, train your team to it and be consistent with it. What works best varies by team and size of project.
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