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Jack Woehr

Dr. Dobb's Bloggers

The Aggressive Development Schedule

February 20, 2008

How many times in our careers have we heard the Dilbertian utterance, "We have an aggressive development schedule here!"

In a way, it's a welcome phrase for a technical candidate to hear. "We have an aggressive development schedule" instantly warns the candidate that the technical organization may be undermanaged or mismanaged.

PHBs everywhere, wake up to the fact that software development is a pipeline. If you have decided to develop software, you have decided to create flow, steady flow. Flow is what you're aiming for, not spurts.

There's always more you can do in software development than can ever be done. Therefore, what matters is that you create a team, a vision, a process that produces a steady measurable flow of software productivity, week in, week out

Without such flow no methodology works, because methodology is based on statistical assumptions. Any analysis of the efficiency of intellectual productivity requires a large and well-formed sample, the kind you only get in a pipeline.

Software development is not about sprints. Sprints are inefficient, just like jackrabbit automobile starts. They burn more energy (human and organizational) than a steady pace.

Goosing the development team is neither a practical nor sustainable substitute for orderly and insightful management of the development process. So whence these words aggressive development schedule?

Perhaps it's the testosterone talking. Perhaps it's the sublime faith some have that the laws of economics can be fiddled and the fairy tales of six months to market one has told one's investors can come true. Proof of concept is six months away; the product release is in 18 months.

Always.

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