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Karmona's Pragmatic Blog

Chronicle of a Death Foretold

September 20th, 2007 by Moti Karmona | מוטי קרמונה · No Comments

Chronicle of a Death Foretold = Waterfall Shmoterfall = Checkmate in 10 movesChronicle of a Death Foretold = Waterfall Shmoterfall = Checkmate in 10 moves
* Note: I did see, participate and lead some successful waterfall projects (mainly due to some adoption of agile methodologies ;-) and this is my view of the projects which failed…

  1. Release scoping start with marketing high-level-copy-paste-from-last-year-marketing-presentations MRD in ~1 month delay
  2. 1 month of quick lets-write-all-the-features-we-can PRD – This is also the last time you hear from the product manager until the next milestone-demo-crisis.
  3. High level design for a couple of weeks which sum-up to a Very Rough Time Guesstimate a.k.a. VeRTiGo
  4. Release time-frame is set ~1 year ahead with the needed VeRTiGo “squeezing” and high level time-frame is determined:
    • 2 months of the waste above and last release leftover
    • 1-2 months of Planning (functional and technical design)
    • 4-5 months of Development – with ~3 Major Milestones
    • 3 months of QA & stabilization
    • 1 month of Project Buffer
  5. Very soon the development teams are scattered like lonely wolfs – everyone for himself until the next integration or major milestones months away.
  6. First milestone is ending with:
    • 20% of the content is really Done a.k.a. “Even a Blind Chicken Finds a Kernel of Corn Now and Then”
    • 50% is “done” with dirty bugy code, low quality, performance issues with missing or wrong functionality
    • 30% is just not ready
  7. Developers and low level management remind themselves yet again to put more buffers…
  8. The PMO suggest (in relax and trusting tone) to postpone the milestone or remove content.
  9. Management doesn’t get in panic (they have seen it before ;-) and decide not to decide: “Let’s see if we can cut the drawback in the next Milestone” a.k.a. The classic do {} while(timeRemaining > Last Milestone)
  10. Next milestone has much more content and the pressure builds up… until the last milestone blaming game which usually ends up with ~2 month delay and half of the planned content.


Tags: Agile · Development · Management · Planning · Project Management · Scrum · Software · Software Management

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