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Arnon Rotem-Gal-Oz

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8 must read papers for project managers

March 30, 2009

I decided to do another article collection post. As I mentioned in the last post that I am extremely busy these days  as we're preparing to launch the first public pilot of our service. On top of that I cannot disregard the ROI (views vs. hours invested) in previous collection post I made on "10 papers architect should read". It isn't that I don't have other articles and papers with 40K+ reads but compiling a list takes much less time than, say, writing an article on what is SOA, explaining the fallacies of distributed computing, a mini-book on Use cases - not to mention the effort that goes into writing  SOA patterns/anti patterns book (Saga, Edge Component, The Knot etc.).
But enough about me...

  • The mythical man-month (1975) Fred Brooks - it is the second chapter of a book with the same name. A classic paper where, I think, for the first time, the ideas that some tasks need to be done sequentially and can not be solved by adding more man-power or in Fred’s words “The bearing of a child takes nine months, no matter how many women are assigned”. It is also famous for stating that adding more people to a late project will only delay it further.
  • Why the Vasa Sank: 10 problems and some antidotes for software projects (2003) by Richard E. Fairley and Mary J. Wilshire -it isn't free but worth it (though you can read the gist of it for free in "Why the Vasa Sank: 10 Lessons learned" by Richard E. Fairley) – The tale of the Vasa ship is a very nice analogy for developing software project. I first heard it from Ivar Jacobson several years ago. This article presents it very well.
  • The Cathedral and the Bazaar (1997) Eric S. Raymond - the classic essay on open source vs. closed source models for developing software
  • Software Maintenance is a Solution, Not a Problem - Robert L. Glass – it really is when you think about it.
  • IT doesn't Matter (2003) - Nicolas Carr – A thought provoking article on the place and importance  of IT – Carr basically states that software is getting to a point where it will become a utility like electricity and in that will loose it strategic place. In a sense we’re seeing more of this direction today with all the hype and move to cloud computing.
  • Chapter 3 of the "Report of the Defense Science Board Task Form on Defense Software" (2000) – various – An extensive analysis of software intensive projects. Besides revealing interesting facts on the ever growing importance of software (eg. 80% of the functions of F-22 are performed in software vs. 8% in the 1960’s F-4) it also acknowledge the advantages of iterative lifecycle over waterfall even in large, safety critical,complex  projects.  
  • Observations on Balancing Discipline and Agility (2003) Barry Boehm and Richard Turner – provide a few rules of thumb for assessing a project’s suitability for agile methods (e.g. team’s level, criticality etc.) 
  • Succeeding with "Agile Fixed Price" part I & part II Pascal Van Cauwenberghe  - a two part paper with practical advice to employing/injecting agile methods into fixed price contracts.

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