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Showing posts from May, 2014

Why are we here?

Are we here so we can get that document written, or that email answered? Is our highest calling to ensure that all of the stakeholders are kept in the loop? Should we place customer's or shareholder's needs before all else? These are things that can be useful and important, certainly. When I need to do these things at work, I do my best. I enjoy what I do most of the time, but these activities are a means to an end. Building a great software solution is fun, but seeing my oldest son growing up to be strong, accomplished, and a fine young man makes me tear up with pride. Getting to "Inbox Zero" makes me feel like I have done a good job of getting everyone what they need, but taking my toddler's hand and going for a walk when reaches out to me and says, "Come on, Dada," feels so much better. It makes me happy when I meet with other teams at work and I can help us all come to an agreement on some project or issue, but when my boys play

Why software development estimates are terrible

I really like this quote with Nobel Prize winning physicist Richard Feynman. He is describing a scientific mindset that applies to software development just as well as physics: Stakeholders, business people, and other normal people mistake building software with things like manufacturing or building. When I had my roof replaced recently, the contractor measured the roof, determined the materials to be used, allowed a margin of error for possible dry rot, and came up with a bid that was within $300 of the estimate (he was under), and he finished when he said he would. Perfect. He was dealing with known quantities and he is a professional. Why the heck are software estimates and roadmaps so terrible when lots of other professions clearly have estimating worked out? The difference with software is that we do not start with a known system. All modern systems of any complexity and age tend to be big, or even huge. Millions of lines of code might be involved. Depending on the siz