Sunday, May 04, 2008

Delivering Software Faster...

Delivering software faster than what or who?

I know the following statement is not generally accepted, but for me it has been a constant my entire career.

"Software is done when it is done. It takes as long as it is going to take."

I have noticed in current discussion that the idea of incremental delivery is some how being changed exclusively into the idea of faster delivery. This incremental delivery is delivery to the customer and not solely to a QA team.

I prefer incremental development of software. I believe in enough planning to divide the software into some type of conceptual model with vocabulary and metaphors to describe the abstract notion. Then I believe in enough planning to organize these abstractions in such a way that the pieces can be developed in a manner to utilize as many working in parallel as possible. Finally I believe that each piece is developed completely following the adage of finishing what you start before you start something else.

For me the above paragraph is enough to be the basis for a good software development process. With all of the books, articles, and methods available I feel that the above statement in contrast is concise and sufficient.

As for "delivering faster", well faster than what?

What can delay software delivery?
Poor programming skills.
Lazy people.
Burdensome I.T. policies.
Buggy hardware.
Low morale.

You add to the list anything you want that you have experienced that slows down development and thus delays software delivery. When you encounter one of these "things" that slows down development then address it in context and in a timely manner. That's the best that anyone can do. After you have addressed it then you can develop policies and practices to avoid it in the future.

For instance, coupling slows down software development. One way it does so it that the human developer can not recall all of the places a piece of code is used and thus may not understand all of the side effects of a change. Problem identified. One solution is to develop the software with regression tests so that when a change is made any issues from coupling may surface. Policy and procedure to avoid unidentified coupling issues is to use a development practice like Design by Use, Test First Programming, Test Driven Development, or some other approach that facilitates the creation of a code base with "built-in" regression tests.

The code will be done when it is done and not a day before. It may ship before it is done, that happens all the time!


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