Tom DeMarco on project control

Posted on July 18, 2012 by Tommy McGuire
Labels: software development, job

A few days ago, someone posted a link to this Tom DeMarco quote on proggit:

To understand control’s real role, you need to distinguish between two drastically different kinds of projects:

• Project A will eventually cost about a million dollars and produce value of around $1.1 million. • Project B will eventually cost about a million dollars and produce value of more than$50 million.

What’s immediately apparent is that control is really important for Project A but almost not at all important for Project B. This leads us to the odd conclusion that strict control is something that matters a lot on relatively useless projects and much less on useful projects. It suggests that the more you focus on control, the more likely you’re working on a project that’s striving to deliver something of relatively minor value.

In one of the more strangely ironic events of my life, I received a new set of charge codes at work; I previously used five, two of which for a project that I am no longer actively working on. Now, I have what is shown on the right (with the actual charge codes redacted).

I'm not in the worst shape, though. The folks on another team (Madam, I'm "ATOM" or "ATM") that do source control and deployments interact with essentially every project every week. They're hosed.

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