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Seven Unsurprising Findings

In the National Acadamies Press’s “Summary of a Workshop for Software-Intensive Systems and Uncertainty at Scale“, the Committee on Advancing Software-Intensive Systems Producibility lists 7 findings from a review of 40 DoD programs.

  1. Software requirements are not well defined, traceable, and testable.
  2. Immature architectures; integration of commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) products; interoperability; and obsolescence (the need to refresh electronics and hardware).
  3. Software development processes that are not institutionalized, have missing or incomplete planning documents, and inconsistent reuse strategies.
  4. Software testing and evaluation that lacks rigor and breadth.
  5. Lack of realism in compressed or overlapping schedules.
  6. Lessons learned are not incorporated into successive builds—they are not cumulative.
  7. Software risks and metrics are not well defined or well managed.

Well gee, do ya think they missed anything? What I’d like to know is what, if anything, they found right with those 40 programs. Anything? Maybe that would help more than ragging on the same issues that have been ragged on for 40 years.

My fave is number five (with number 1 a close second). When schedules concocted by non-technical managers without any historical backing or input from the people who will be doing the work are publicly promised to customers, how can anyone in their right mind assert that they’re “realistic“? The funny thing is, it happens all the time with nary a blink – until the fit hits the shan, of course. D’oh!

Meeting schedules based on historically tracked data and input from team members is challenging enough, but casting an unsubstantiated schedule in stone without an explicit policy of periodically reassessing it on the basis of newly acquired knowledge and learning as a project progresses is pure insanity. Same old, same old.

I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by. – Douglas Adams

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