Thursday, October 25, 2007

Five Easy Ways To Fail

Joel Spolsky describes the most common reasons for software projects to go awry in his latest articel "How Hard Could It Be? Five Easy Ways to Fail".

As kind of expected, a "mediocre team of developers" comes up as number one, and as usual Joel Spolsky describes it much more eloquently than I ever could:

#1: Start with a mediocre team of developers

Designing software is hard, and unfortunately, a lot of the people who call themselves programmers can't really do it. But even though a bad team of developers tends to be the No. 1 cause of software project failures, you'd never know it from reading official postmortems.

In all fields, from software to logistics to customer service, people are too nice to talk about their co-workers' lack of competence. You'll never hear anyone say "the team was just not smart enough or talented enough to pull this off." Why hurt their feelings?

The simple fact is that if the people on a given project team aren't very good at what they do, they're going to come into work every day and yet--behold!--the software won't get created. And don't worry too much about HR standing in your way of hiring a bunch of duds. In most cases, I assure you they will do nothing to prevent you from hiring untalented people.

I tend to question the four other reasons he mentions though (mainly estimating and scheduling issues). Don't get me wrong, he surely got his points, but I would rank other problem fields higher than that, lack of management support, amateurish requirements analysis or suffering from the NIH-syndrome among them.