21 Rules of Thumb for Delivering Great Products on Time

The August 15, 2004 issue of Software Development Times arrived today, and I wanted to highlight the first article in a series by Jim McCarthy (author of Dynamics of Software Development and co-founder of McCarthy Technologies) where he enumerates his 21 Rules of Thumb for Delivering Great Products on Time. Here are the first five points that he covers:

1.      Don’t know what you don’t know.

2.      Get to a known state and stay there.

3.      Remember the triangle.

4.      Don’t go dark.

5.      Use zero defect milestones

I really like his discussion of point #1. I’ve seen various shades of the behavior he describes in every single project I’ve ever been involved with, and I agree with him that it’s a real problem. I wonder if this particular behavior is so engrained in the “engineering mindset” of architects and software developers that simply identifying it won’t do much help. Let’s hope my speculation is wrong.

Item #3 is obvious to most of us, but it amazes me how quickly project teams forget about it. How many of us have heard that it’s “just a little feature” that won’t really add any time or cost to the project? Surely something that we can “sneak in” to the plan. It’s tempting to forget about the triangle, but to do so precipitates a perilous path (how’s that for accidental alliteration?).

What do you think?

Update: Richard Norman points out that Dave Gristwood has previously posted the full article.

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