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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
You know how software projects are supposed to go. Careful software engineering methodologies. Cooperative clients. Proven technologies. Well-organized teams. Adequate resources. Sane schedules. Well, you can dream. The reality? All too often, projects become “death marches,” where the whole team is fighting merely to survive.
People work 14 hours a day, 7 days a week -- and no amount of Jolt Cola is enough to even the odds. These are the projects where folks struggle to keep their jobs, personal relationships, health, and sanity. Survival, says Ed Yourdon, involves five key issues: politics, people, process, project management, and tools. Yourdon’s Death March, Second Edition shows how to use all five of them to give yourself a fighting chance.
Yourdon knows more about software projects than just about anyone. In a 40-year career, he’s pioneered everything from timesharing to object-oriented methodologies. He’s trained more than a quarter million software analysts and developers. (He’s also been inducted into the Computer Hall of Fame, along with folks like Charles Babbage, Seymour Cray, James Martin, Grace Hopper, Gerald Weinberg, and Bill Gates.)
In this edition, he reflects the massive changes that have taken place since his 1997 First Edition. For instance, there’s extensive new coverage of agile methodologies: how they will -- and won’t -- help the death march project.
There’s also detailed coverage of time management, as well as a new chapter on the “dynamics” of task-related processes. We think you’ll especially like Yourdon’s coverage of “wargaming”: practicing your projects in advance, identifying your most likely obstacles, and preparing for them.
There’s also an entirely new chapter on negotiating the terms of your death march project. Yourdon knows full well that “it’s very easy to predict the outcome of negotiations over budget, schedule, and resources: You lose.” But you can lose less spectacularly: anything you can do to make your project’s conditions more tolerable will be worth the effort.
Yourdon spends an entire chapter on triage: making cold-blooded decisions about which features to sacrifice and focusing your resources on critical features that would “die” without them.
You’ll find excellent advice on getting enough great people (not easy in most places). You’ll learn how to gauge the commitment of your team and encourage it to the greatest extent possible (including a look at how money does and doesn’t motivate). Finally, Yourdon shows how to improve your team’s working conditions even if it means breaking -- no, bulldozing -- the rules.
When it comes to death march projects, there are no magic bullets. But this book is as close as it gets. Bill Camarda
Bill Camarda is a consultant, writer, and web/multimedia content developer. His 15 books include Special Edition Using Word 2000 and Upgrading & Fixing Networks for Dummies, Second Edition.