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Why Your Software Development Process Is Broken
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AndrewT197
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AndrewT197,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/19/2013 | 4:10:27 AM
re: Why Your Software Development Process Is Broken
Not a bad article, but I think it is brave to try bring a generic model to all development environments. The article starts with "It doesn't matter if you're building the next hot iPhone app or tweaking an in-house ERP system." then jumps to the mutually exclusive advantages of either side.

ERP -> many locked in restrictions
iPhone App -> solving a specific need

Major design differences.

A product manager needs to be technical if a specific need is being addressed (most open source projects) in other instances where many customers exists, the product manager needs to mediate AS a nonbiast customer without knowing the technical side, but more focused on the business side.

The problem that brews today is learning programming is a long hard ongoing task and most developer / programmers you meet don't actually learn how technologies work they believe a language is the answer to getting things done. Now today many programmers short cut the learning curve (university / training and resources are expensive) because they need to earn money quickly.

We all must start somewhere, but the funds allocated in startups are minimal so few people have to do the job of massive corporations. Also most startups are based on an idea or market need, so many times the starting point has a customer profile in mind and not a real paying customer.

In a massive world it would go like this. Notice how late the technical guys come in, but in small worlds, the technical guys must solve problems from other directions.

Note advertising is not sales.

Strategic managers talk to Marketing
Marketing talks to Advertisers

Advertisers talk to customers (potential and existing)
Customers talk to Sales
Sales talk to marketing
Marketing talks to Strategic managers
Strategic managers talk to systems analysts
Analysts talk to Product managers
Analysts talk to Test department
Analysts talk to Design department
Design department talks to Senior developers
Senior Developers talk to junior developers.

Development is a long term thing. Short cuts generate startups but ultimately long term is professionalism.
jemison288
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jemison288,
User Rank: Ninja
9/17/2013 | 1:45:44 PM
re: Why Your Software Development Process Is Broken
Yes, and also, you better make sure your benevolent dictator is (a) smart, (b) motivated by the right things, and (c) truly benevolent.
ChrisMurphy
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ChrisMurphy,
User Rank: Author
9/17/2013 | 12:49:17 PM
re: Why Your Software Development Process Is Broken
A response to my tweet of this story makes a good point about needing to motivate your coders: "Even if you have a benevolent dictator, ALL need to be sold out to creating value!"
WKash
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WKash,
User Rank: Author
9/17/2013 | 12:46:57 PM
re: Why Your Software Development Process Is Broken
One other reason it makes sense for developers to get closer to their customers, and not just under the direction of a product manager, is the pain large enterprises face in having to too-frequently patch their software. For the US Marine Corps, as noted in our story, "Software Patches Eat Government's Lunch, " http://www.informationweek.com... , the cost of testing and applying patches is a huge tax on IT operations at large enterprises.
ChrisMurphy
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ChrisMurphy,
User Rank: Author
9/16/2013 | 3:17:33 PM
re: Why Your Software Development Process Is Broken
More companies are learning these hard lessons as they do more customer-facing software development. Customer-facing mobile apps, in-vehicle features and touchscreens, B-to-B e-commerce sites -- smartphones and tablets are forcing companies to hone higher-level software development skills than they needed when the "customer" was an employee as compared with now when it's for the end customers who pay the bills.
BrainiacV
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BrainiacV,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/16/2013 | 2:37:00 PM
re: Why Your Software Development Process Is Broken
My take on development is that programmers have to interact with end users to the point they become experts, if just for a day, to understand the requirements and then use their knowledge of software systems to transcend the requirements. As Steve Jobs once said, if Henry Ford had asked the customers what they wanted, they would have asked for a faster horse. Many times the requirements that come my way are mired in manual processes. In effect they want to pave the cow path, because it is the only thing they know. Understanding the end result will allow you to take things to the next level that the end user has no concept of. It gets past the incremental requests because the end user didn't know you could do something so they pitch their requests low and you find yourself writing (and rewriting) code that would have been much more efficient if they had asked you for what they wanted in the first place. I tell them to tell me their wildest fantasy, I say we will scale it back to what can be done and in a reasonable amount of time, with an eye towards the future. To use an architectural analogy (I studied to be an architect before being seduced by the dark side of programming), don't tell me you will want a wet bar on the other side of the room AFTER I've laid the concrete floor. Software is plastic, but as systems get built, they start to develop rigidity. I've inherited systems that had to be rewritten because the previous system had developed the rigidity of concrete.
arigney
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arigney,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/16/2013 | 12:31:11 PM
re: Why Your Software Development Process Is Broken
In a perfect world you are absolutely correct however really important large software systems are being built by large companies like that have a vested interest in only providing the customer what they say or think what they want rather than evaluating and analyzing and working with them to produce the software that they actually need. Also governments and big clients don't really care who is building their software unless they are big enough to sue. So until agile development standards are accepted or enforced by law we will still see large software projects failing/costing their governments etc a lot more than they should with sub-standard quality and performance.
jemison288
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jemison288,
User Rank: Ninja
9/14/2013 | 4:39:05 PM
re: Why Your Software Development Process Is Broken
It is true that I'm saying doesn't address the disagreeing-customers problem. Although I would argue that having a good benevolent dictator would help resolve those issues by having a clear vision of the product and a clear understanding of whether the feature fits with that vision or doesn't (or how to make it fit with that vision).
jemison288
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jemison288,
User Rank: Ninja
9/14/2013 | 4:37:48 PM
re: Why Your Software Development Process Is Broken
Doug -- I think that Marty Cagan mainly agrees with this vision that you're discussing; let's have more people involved all along. My concern that is PMs are not technical enough to really manage a software product properly, and that responsibility is too diffuse--there isn't one throat to choke in the bad PM situation that I describe above.
jemison288
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jemison288,
User Rank: Ninja
9/14/2013 | 4:36:17 PM
re: Why Your Software Development Process Is Broken
Very good points. I am railing here against a certain vision of product management, and I do not outline a complete solution that takes into account all stakeholders.
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