Paralysis by Analysis

Decisions are temporary – Companies are often paralyzed by big decisions that they believe are permanent. They think that what they decide today has to be that way forever.”
Jason Fried
on here.

This statement can be very true for OSS projects. They are so big and so intimidating for customers at times that they are too worried to make decisions. This often appears in the form of multiple iterations of nit-picking about specification documents.

To use an analogy, it’s the difference between the waterfall and the agile software development life cycles (SDLC). Waterfall seeks to specify everything in perfection, whereas agile seeks to start and refine as you go.

Due to the complexities and unknowns of an OSS project, there is a need to plan up-front but also to evolve and adapt through the life of the project.

In a nutshell, if you have the big pieces of your strategy in place, it will invariably provide the direction to move forward. As a customer, the key is to building an environment that allows for refinements in-flight, both in terms of the direct involvement of your team and in the change management structure you put in place. You can’t just seek to change at the end, once the vendor/integrator has completed their work. Big picture changes shouldn’t be popping up for the first time when you’re conducting UAT (User Acceptance Testing), but I have seen that happen for customers who’ve taken a hands-off approach.

Decisions are not only temporary, as Jason indicates, but must be evolving during the course of a project.

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