Project Management

Obey the (Software) Laws

Don Beckett

Many business leaders are unacquainted with the wealth of knowledge about how software projects behave. No surprise, they are unable to explain why these projects fail repeatedly, much less do something about it. Here are five fundamental “laws” of software development that all executives (and teams) should understand and follow.

The modern enterprise is software dependent. Whether you develop software in house, commission custom software, or purchase and install commercial software products, software projects are an important cost component and must be well planned and executed. But top-tier business leaders are rarely involved in the day-to-day management of software projects. Their job is to make decisions that affect a firm’s strategic direction, policies and profitability. Business leaders can, however, establish procedures and practices that help projects succeed.  In this new series, we'll explore how.

Does the term “laws of software development” seem contrived? It shouldn’t. In the 40 years since Frederick Brooks wrote The Mythical Man-Month, the industry has amassed a wealth of knowledge about how software projects behave. We know what works and what does not. But as Brooks once observed, knowing what works and doing it are very different things. Failure to acknowledge and obey these laws, whether deliberately or through ignorance, …

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- Henry Ford