Monday, July 27, 2009

Software Engineering Dead Tidbit

There has been conflicting conclusions ("take-aways" if you like) from Tom DeMaroc's article Software Engineering: An Idea Whose Time Has Come and Gone? [1]. As an example, see Jeff Atwood's blog Software Engineering: Dead? and the many comments at the end. I won't re-hash any of what was said there. But I will says this: regardless of whether SE is dead or not, we must continue to strive for the professionalism found in other engineering fields. This includes establishing best engineering practices, forming professional organizations, defining our responsibilities to the public, defining paths of entry, defining codes of ethics and enforcing them, requiring certification and/or licensing, and more.

That aside, my own tidbit from this article is the project management advice captured in these quotes:
Can I really be saying that it’s OK to run projects without control or with relatively little control? Almost. I’m suggesting that first we need to select projects where precise control won’t matter so much.
So, how do you manage a project without controlling it? Well, you manage the people and control the time and money.You say to your team leads, for example, “I have a finish date in mind, and I’m not even going to share it with you. When I come in one day and tell you the project will end in one week, you have to be ready to package up and deliver what you’ve got as the final product. Your job is to go about the project incrementally, adding pieces to the whole in the order of their relative value, and doing integration and documentation and acceptance testing incrementally as you go.”

[1] Tom DeMarco, Software Engineering: An Idea Whose Time Has Come and Gone?, IEEE Software, 2009.