VSLive 2008, Day two

by Terry 5/13/2008 8:54:00 AM

I am frustrated with the network access at the conference. Yesterday morning I had great access for the first third of the day then I shut down my laptop during a break. I have not had access since. I learned from the conference organizers they only had five IP addresses being issued for the wireless access. Apparently that has not been fixed – my luck. So, I am writing this offline. If I get it posted, then I found access someplace.

The conference starts formally today, yesterday being pre-conference classes. I have little to comment on the keynote this morning, except one statistic that was mentioned. The speaker said, from years of research by Microsoft, that 35% of all projects fail. This value has not changed over 20 years. What has changed is that the relative cost of failed projects has decreased. In short, development projects have not gotten more successful over time, but just fail more cheaply.

The solution, I presume from the keynote, is integrated team suits like Microsoft Team Foundation Server and Visual Studio will somehow herald in a new era of success. I find that interesting, but I am mostly doubtful. I would agree the integrated development systems are a needed improvement to the development lifecycle. I also believe this will make teams, successful or otherwise, function more effectively, productively and by inference with less cost. This will continue to drive development costs down, making successful and failed projects less costly.

What will not happen, I think, with any tool improvement will be an increase in successful projects vs. failed. I believe the ratio of failures stems largely from the analysis phase of a project, and secondly the architectural phase. Basically, developers are problem solving mechanics and rely on the proper analysis of a problem in order to solve it. Note, I am not saying that developers have no ownership in the failures. Good analysis should include some developer skill set. Errors in the initial analysis will eventually cause cost, quality or schedule problems in the future and no amount of utopian project management and code integration will help that, just make the errors apparent sooner, and therefore less costly.

If you assume the cost of error-recovery in the architecture and development phases can be reduced to almost nothing that projects will be more successful, there may be hope. This will not address poor assumptions or understanding of customer requirements in the analysis. If you don’t know what your customer needs, no amount of money, time or development effort will meet that unknown unless you get lucky. Luck is not a good bet.

If you see this, obviously I found network access. The convention IT folks dropped the network and restarted it.

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About Terry Losansky

Terry Dee Losansky

I am a software architect, actively practice and teach martial arts and live in Snoqualmie, Washington. I have an amazing daughter who is the jewel of my life.

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