Friday, September 23, 2005

90% of the beer on the wall, 90% of the beer...

Andrew - you wouldn't think it but software development is a very emotional occupation. Just watch people reading Dilbert. They either laugh uncontrollably or get really angry because Scott Adams has beatifully portrayed the madness of my industry.

Nothing can get much more emotional in my business than the 90% status report. I have been on both sides of the 90% complete status. As a developer I was frustrated in having to give that status for a second and even third time in a row to a manager that I knew wouldn't understand why my status didn't change. Or I was embarrassed that I was so naive to believe that last week I thought I was 90% complete, and that there were so many things that I should have considered in my original estimates but didn't. Or worse, I was angered that my manager so easily forgot that the scope of my task had increased but I was not allowed to re-estimate the effort.

And I have been a PM that has had developers that have repeatedly given a 90% complete status for the same line item in my beautiful project plan. I felt completely un-empowered as the PM. I could not report status on my project with any confidence. I also felt a lack of integrity in passing on that status, rolled up into the overall project status along with all the other developer guesses, to my managers.

It was bad enough that I was ready to quit this business a few years ago and go back to teaching. But then I was introduced to Agile software development and in particular Extreme Programming. One of the most glorious things about Extreme Programming is the practice of breaking tasks down in size to stories that should be accomplished in a couple of days. So when status is reported on a story, it is either done or not done. Nothing in between is ever tracked or reported. No more 90% complete. Welcome back integrity.


Blogger Boingophreak said...

Why not just up it a 0.1%? In otherwords Start at 90% and when you give your next report, since the scope has changed and you have worked on it, you will be at 90.1%. This will give you about 100 weeks of schedule time to complete the last 10% of your project...

September 29, 2005 at 1:54:00 PM PDT  

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