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Tech Tips, Tricks & Trivia

by 'Anil' Radhakrishna
An architect's notes, experiments, discoveries and annotated bookmarks.

Search from over a hundred HOW TO articles, Tips and Tricks


Book Review: Software Project Survival Guide

"How does a project get to be a year late?... One day at a time" - Fredrick P. Brooks


When you are setting out on a long journey along an unknown path, it pays to seek advice from folks who know that path well. Similarly you can count on the book Software Project Survival Guide by Steve McConnell, the accomplished author of the classics Code Complete and Rapid Development, for guidance on completing your project successfully.

The author draws inspiration from the best practices suggested by numerous Software Project Management publications and his rich experience to prescribe a Staged Delivery approach to tackle small & medium sized projects. His pragmatic & optimistic approach has some elements from the Agile methodology. He emphasizes the power of "Process" and shows how it can lead to better predictability, visibility and control. There was just one instance where I felt this may have been romanticized -
The completed Software Project History provides a useful supplement to each team member's individual memory. Holding a printed, bound history document provides a sense of closure, and each project member should recieve a personal copy.
(Chapter 17, End-of-Stage Wrap-Up)

Having worked for a CMM Level 5 company, I initially detested all the documentation but soon understood the value of metrics and the discipline it enforces which pays dividends in the long run. I agree with the author that "the cost & schedule penalty for having too much process is far smaller than the penalty for having too little process".

Running across some 300 pages, the book is filled with practical recommendations, documentation templates, checklists, dos and don'ts for a newbie Project Manager or Lead on a medium sized project. Overall, I think this is a great reference for software engineering practitioners.

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