Friday, April 08, 2005

Problems of Software Development 2

I discussed some problems with software development here.

So what can be done? The basic problems I see here are #1: The Deadline, and #2: The Database. The programmers work in a panicky rush to fulfill all the items in the Database before the Deadline. So let's start with the obvious: Get rid of the deadline.

"Say what?" I hear you cry. "We can't just never release the project!" No, I'm not saying that. I'm saying - and this is one of the requirements of agility - release early and release often. Get the application into the hands of the users and let them bang on it. They may not find all the really picky little bugs, but that's OK for 99% of the users who won't ever use that functionality anyway. More importantly, the users are going to find the things like the button on the wrong form that would save each user four clicks if you just moved it. They'll find the missing report that they didn't know they needed until they saw how useful it would be with this application. Get the application out there quick enough to catch those things - and then fix them in the next release! How often? Every two weeks, I hear, is pretty reasonable.

But the objections now come thick and fast. "We don't have the manpower to test all the whole program every two weeks!" "Our users are going to file hundreds of change requests! The developers will be buried!" "How will we ever know when it's done if we don't have the requirements set in stone up front?" I'm not the greatest practitioner of agile methods in the world. But what I have found is that for every objection that someone makes to an agile idea, there's a pretty good response from the agiliots. I'll try to come up with responses to these next time. Oh, and I've even been working on an application! I'll try to get up to date on that as well.