Software Companies Fight Back: Bad Software Isn't About The Code

from the really? dept

There have been a number of high profile (high expense, too) software project failures lately. There was the accounting system in Tacoma that couldn't do a budget, the Federal Technology Service's new system that made simple tasks like "save" suddenly 15 steps, and, of course, the Microsoft system that needed a manual reboot every month or it would (as it did) shut down all southern California air traffic. It looks like the folks behind big software projects decided that they're not getting enough respect these days and are hitting back. The AP is running an article saying that, in many such cases, even though "the software" gets the blame, it's not problems with the software at all, but with "bad management, communication or training." Of course, the real truth is that it's probably a combination of a variety of things, but the biggest is miscommunication between those who will be using the software and those developing it. Really good project managers and product managers who can really understand what is needed and how it will be used, and then successfully translate that to a development staff showing them what to build are hard to come by. Perhaps a better solution isn't limiting the communications channel to such a narrow straw, and setting up much better ways for developers and end-users to interact in order to understand what needs to be built.


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    Brian Shock, Oct 6th, 2004 @ 9:17am

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    Perhaps a better solution isn't limiting the communications channel to such a narrow straw, and setting up much better ways for developers and end-users to interact in order to understand what needs to be built. As a programming grunt, I hear this at least once a week. Usually this chestnut comes from management types who couldn't write a coherent program to save their lives.

    Ignore this as anecdotal evidence, if you like, but in my experience the end-user is an incoherent half-wit. I'm not in programming because I have the people skills to dig through the vagueness and inconsistencies of the average end-user.

    Maybe I should be able to do this. Maybe if I want to stay employed in the current market I need to be a freaking programmer/psychotherapist. But doesn't it make more sense to recognize project management as a heretofore relatively ignored art form, rather than risk polluting my thought processes and splitting my attention with muddled user nonsense?

     

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