Posts Tagged 'project-management'

Nov 122015
Bob Charette Weighs in on a Decade of IT Failures

Cutter Fellow Bob Charette has been blogging over at IEEE Risk Factor for the past decade, looking at the myriad ways software projects fail. To mark that 10-year milestone, he set out to analyze what’s changed — and what hasn’t — in the area of systems development- and operations-related failures. Bob doesn’t claim to have compiled a comprehensive “database of debacles” in Lessons From a Decade of IT Failures. Instead, he’s endeavored to bring together the “most interesting and illustrative examples of big IT systems and projects gone awry.” Be sure to spend some time with his colleague Josh Romero’s five super cool interactive visualizations of the data where you’ll: Look at the various ways Read more

Oct 102012

I recently watched a talk by a self-appointed agile "expert" who tried to explain the key elements of Scrum. There were lots of minor and major mistakes in his presentation, but the sentence that struck me most was: "User stories are what we call requirements in agile." The sad thing is not that much that this guy said was completely wrong, but that his view is quite common. Another "Scrum" team I was visiting recently showed me its task board. On the left, the group had "prioritized" their stories by assigning them to three categories. Their choice was pretty representative: they had eight cards with priority one, three cards with priority two, and not a Read more

Apr 152011
Lessons from la Tour Eiffel

Last week, I was visiting Paris and got the chance to marvel at the Tour Eiffel, one of the world’s most well-known and instantly recognizable structures. I also took the opportunity to learn a bit more about its fascinating history. For example, I learned that the Eiffel Tower is the world’s most visited paid tourist attraction, reaching its 200,000,000th visitor in 2002, and having more than 2.6 million visitors in 2010 alone. Built between 23 January 1887 and 31 March 1889, the tower was constructed for the 1889 Universal Exhibition that was timed to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution. The exhibition committee solicited designs for a “grand tower” and chose Eiffel’s Read more

Apr 142011

The devops phenomenon is gaining traction in enterprises worldwide and its results have been turning heads in the business and user community. Bridging the gap between projects and operations, devops has the ability to deploy and manage business services in “real time.” The July 2011 Cutter IT Journal, with Guest Editor Patrick Debois, will examine both the opportunities and challenges created by the devops movement. Proposals of interest are due 29 April 2011. To respond, please visit

Dec 062010

I recently worked on Kanban adoption with a new customer, who informed me that Kanban was already underway and wanted me to help finish the adoption. On the first day, I was taken to the Kanban boards, two of them, and was introduced to the 15-person team. I noticed right away that the Kanban boards lacked a good number of essential elements to be considered an actual Kanban board, such as explicit policies and well-defined classes of service. Furthermore, the boards were not for separate projects. One was for the development phase; the other for the test phase. Also, the adoption work was delayed by a month because a key person (the champion) wasn’t available Read more

Oct 292010

It was a dark and stormy day when it dawned on the project manager. Many full moons ago a new project was planned and leaders established a firm deadline (how ironic!). Technical people slaved day after day and night after night in their cubicle-shaped dungeons, under the promise of succulent bonuses if they worked like zombies until they closely resembled the real ones. Unflinchingly they coded away not knowing if ’twas day or night or dusk or down, unaware of the many little creepy creatures their code was creating. But one night, right before down the bugs started coming out of nowhere and from everywhere. And leaders spoke: “Let the little creatures be, for what Read more

Dec 022008

Almost a month ago I told you about the cover story Bob Charette wrote for IEEE Spectrum on the problems in defense acquisition. Today, Robin Young of the NPR show Here & Now interviewed Bob about the article. You can listen to it here. The part with Bob begins about 5 minutes in, and lasts about 10 minutes.

Nov 042008

One of the most costly results of poor estimation skills is often the complete cancellation of a project. Cutter Consortium recently examined the extent to which software organizations have abandoned or cancelled projects over the past three years due to significant budget or schedule overruns. This survey effort studied software project estimation at more than 100 software development organizations and was analyzed by Cutter Consortium Senior Consultant E.M. Bennatan. The first area we examined was comparative performance; how are projects estimated today compared to six years ago? We defined success by the ±10% rule: success means hitting the mark within 10%. Organizations were asked: In the past three years, what would you say is the Read more

Nov 042008

Cutter’s Bob Charette has written the cover story, “What’s Wrong With Weapons Acquisitions?,” for this month’s IEEE Spectrum. The article highlights the problems in defense acquisition: spiraling costs, extremely lengthy project delays, politics trumping technology, a lack of skilled workers, and a dearth of institutional knowledge as a result of outsourcing. Sound familiar? The scope of the projects and of the failures Bob reports is immense, but the issues are surely ones you can identify with, regardless of which industry you’re in or where you’re based. Bob interviewed dozens of industry and government defense-acquisition experts over the course of a year and a half to support this piece. When we talked about it, Bob remarked, Read more

Sep 162008

The subtitle of Extreme Programming Explained , Kent Beck’s groundbreaking book, is “Embrace Change.” The full range of behaviors that this seemingly simple phrase can be affect are in fact very far-reaching. Part of this impact can be explained by altering the focus of the phrase to one that is a little, well, fuzzier: embrace uncertainty. In his intriguing talk on the future of agile development at the Agile 2008 conference, David Anderson commented about three outcomes: right, wrong, and uncertain. Of the three, uncertainty, is the hardest to deal with in most organizations. The comment, “I don’t know,” is often an unacceptable response, while it is often the best response. To a manager’s question, Read more