[lug] Developer abuse

Tom Tromey tromey at redhat.com
Tue Nov 16 11:57:22 MST 2004

>>>>> "Bill" == Bill Thoen <bthoen at gisnet.com> writes:

Bill> But I've yet to see very many software developers do much more
Bill> than pay lip service to project planning. How come it's so
Bill> typical that they're so bad at it?  Why do they accept
Bill> unrealistic deadlines and budgets, or are they just unable to
Bill> plan a software project?

While there's no single way to characterize it, one problem I've seen
frequently comes from the programmers themselves.  Namely, sometimes
programmers will estimate incorrectly because things look easier than
they really are, or out of some macho-like posturing.

Likewise, I've seen (hell, I've done most of these things :-/)
programmers agree to shorten schedules out of fear of the consequences
of saying "no" (while accepting the personal consequences of saying

Similar things apply to management: the fear of saying "no" seems
pretty powerful.  OTOH I've also seen management exploit the fact that
most programmers are highly motivated by setting deadlines sooner,
knowing that the hackers will stretch to make the goal.

Other failures I've seen were just plain old mistakes (some process
mistakes, some one-offs): disagreements with the customer about the
deliverables (a disaster if it happens at the end of a project),
poorly written contracts that end up requiring much more work than was
planned, estimates done by experts on projects that end up being
implemented by the less expert, etc.

Anyway, in most of these things, psychological factors tend to
dominate.  It usually isn't about the tools or the programming
methodology, at least as far as I've seen.


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