Mind to Market

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Building Prototypes

I should provide some explanation into what I have occupied myself with over the past 16 years. I have been involved with developing and commercializing new embedded systems and enterprise IT systems. This usually starts at version 0.0 and proceeds through 1.0 if all goes well. So my teams are always building software from scratch, not incrementing existing code bases. Well, scratch is a relative term, we always start with some code base, just nothing written for the particular application.

Because some of the problems that will be encountered are either poorly defined or not identified at all, a higher risk is incurred in predicting and planning the development process. Nevertheless, there are always resource constraints so some commitment to deliver must be made in exchange for resources. Can a commitment be made without careful planning? Agile methodology would state that loose commitments could be made and renegotiated periodically. Although realistic, managers and clients may resist this type of arrangement and feel they're being taken advantage of. The pressure is to provide a firm commitment to deliver. And that is the exact point where so many projects get into trouble.

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