Another interesting discussion on XP list

March 2nd, 2007

“What’s wrong with setting a goal and a date, and expecting a team to tell you how they are going to meet that goal and that date? Presuming that the goal and the date are both driven by business needs?”

Which was promptly replied:

“What’s wrong with me telling you I expect you to climb mount everest in 3 hours, and expecting you to tell me how you are going to do it?”

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6 Responses to “Another interesting discussion on XP list”

motobass Says:

The respondent seems to assume that the business does not take reality into consideration when setting timelines. The business would presumably ask people who have scaled Mt. Everest how long to schedule for it (or would have asked a development team with experience how long a project like X would take), then planned accordingly — including planning on who’s going to cover the costs of the funerals for those poor souls who didn’t make it.

Christopher Bennage Says:

Or rather the business says “I read an article about mountains last year. They don’t seem like too big of a deal. I’m sure this Everest one isn’t any different.”
Sorry if I sound bitter, but I spent two years in a company that did that to my team over and over. Sometimes they would ask for our estimates, but since the dates were business driven our estimates were disregarded.
I like to say, “There are three things: time, money, and quality. You get to pick two.”

hammett Says:

Sure, Christopher. XP has four variables: Resource, Scope, Time and Quality. But now that I run a business, I understand a little more on what drives business decisions. The good thing is that I’m also a programmer, so I know that there are limits, but I can also be sympathetic to a few situations.

Ron Jeffries’ has a nice essay on the four variables
http://www.xprogramming.com/xpmag/kings_dinner.htm

goodwill Says:

motobass,
Unfortunately I have to say its not unusual for what hammett said happen. You can’t expect your business ppl have a heck clue on how to measure such project. Just like you can’t expect they know how to measure Mt. Everest as they never did that kind of climbing. The even worse thing is they do go for some light weight hiking and presume the Mt. Everest will correctly scale to what they know.

Insane Says:

Business can set the goals, and it can set the timescale.

A *good* developer will then tell the business they have set unrealistic goals if the project cannot be met within those constraints. It will then be up to the business to either revise their estimates, or get a different developer to quote.

A *bad* developer will attempt it, or moan about it, or try it.

If I’m running a business I want the first type of developers. The second type of developers generally bankrupt you.

motobass Says:

I know all too well that programmers are more often than not the ones left holding the bag when a project’s time lines doesn’t move, yet the design is late, the content is late, and the requirements are largely untestable.

In my experience, project managers often take client-set time lines without even asking the developers. Often you are tied to the client in many, often desirable, ways. The only thing to do is correct the expectations after the fact. Especially if you insist on having tests and your general company development process does not. Were is the time for that? Fixing all the bugs that appear later – perhaps billed hourly, perhaps free since it shouldn’t have shipped with those bugs in the first place.

If I *must* complete a project we have contracted for and don’t have the time, I will be moaning some, for sure. I don’t think I’m a bad developer per se, but I have a ways to go and don’t have a go-to mentor at the current time. I guess, I am saying there is always a very complex set of circumstances around all projects (perhaps excepting wee little ones?). I’m not going to claim I can climb Everest – I recommend they find someone else – but the businesses you want as clients should be able to persuaded by informed feedba on their time lines.

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