Thrash hard

Every software project that has missed its target date (every single one) is a victim of late thrashing,…The creators didn’t have the discipline to force all the thrashing at the beginning.”
Seth Godin

So you’re starting up your OctopOSS

It’s a complex beast, with many different features. It impacts many different parts of the business. It will touch the working lives of many.

The many will all want their say. And the many will want to divert you along the implementation pathway. Design and approval by committee can easily lead to a “paralysis by analysis,” particularly in large organisations.

Whether you’re the vendor or the customer, it’s your imperative to thrash early, thrash hard, then entrust the guiding lights. Get all of users/stakeholders into early sessions (thrash early). Capture requirements, brainstorm, collaborate, argue, define, re-define, re-capture (thrash hard). Then get everyone out of the process, except the guiding light (or lights).

They are the ones who will take all the agreed requirements as inputs to the process and then they are entrusted to deliver the best outcomes for the project and the organisation. But do indirect stakeholders normally want to get involved early? The inverse is usually true and they want to get involved deep into the implementation when much of the path has already been travelled.

I’ve seen a massive OSS project get trapped in the quicksand of approvals. Approximately 20 different stakeholders wanted a say, not at the start of the project, but in the approval of a key implementation document at approximately 75% of the way through the project. They couldn’t agree. It went through many dozens of iterations and each iteration took weeks or months. The document tripled in size and complexity. It covered situations that were unlikely to ever arise and would have negible impact even if they did.

Schedules and budgets blew out mainly because of the need for each of the reviewers to prove the level of their genius, identifying the eddies rather than the flow.

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