Tuesday, June 26, 2007

What's your poison?

Huge thanks to Tim O'Reilly for spotting Scott Berkun's post on development methodologies.

Having worked in the software industry for too long to quite remember, this made me laugh intensely.

I couldn't resist but add a few more tongue in cheek examples myself. I've republished here:-

WBD or Worth Based Development:

Unfortunately this one I invented a long long time ago and in general it doesn’t work in today's climate! The concept is quite simple, rather than being paid on a fixed price or on a per hour basis, the client (business) and the development team agree a measure of worth for what is being proposed.

Generally if the development team don’t think the idea is going to bring value they won’t agree to any measure (this is useful information telling you to stop!). If a measure can be agreed, such as “for each extra $ of revenue” or “for each product sold” etc then the business and the developers agree a percentage split of this worth. The developers don’t charge a fee for the system but take their cut out of the worth generated, the business doesn’t pay for the system but pay the developers a percentage of the value it creates. Hence both parties, the business and developers, are interested in the success of the project and both make value out of its success.

It’s simple, it involves the business and the development house in the process and it focuses on the value generated. However it doesn't generally work. Why?

Because inevitably large businesses are budget focused, and so you always get into a situation where the business says ...

“hang on, for each widget this system sells you get 5% of the value, let’s say $10. That’s ok if you only sell one hundred but what if you sell one hundred thousand? That’s $1 million! I’ve only got budget for $50K”

...of course, you try and point out that if you are selling that amount, they have increased revenues by $20 million but it always comes back to budget. At which point it’s just easier to agree to bill the business $50K for building a system which won’t generate any worth … which seems to be a fairly normal practice in much of IT … and then suffer the complaints that IT doesn’t create value … which seems to be a fairly normal practice in much of business.

BAUD : Business As Usual Development.

An advanced adaptation of WBD (worth based development). Knowingly building a system for a business which won’t generate any value, because to be quite honest the $50K they are offering is useful and you can’t be bothered to argue.

BORED : Blindingly Obvious Regurgitated “Enterprise” Development.

Discovering that whatever you built with the BAUD method (as above) can be repackaged and sold on in small $20K bundles to lots of other companies as providing “strategic value” in an “enterprise” environment. This can safely be achieved as most businesses have little way of ever identifying or measuring value of IT and if you are asked just tell them their competitors are evaluating it and mention the words “Competitive Advantage”.

Well no-one wants to get left behind.

This is also known as Keeping Up with the Jones’ (KUJ development) and other such terms and is in widespread use.

WMD : Wrong Methodology Development.

This is the approach of using static-like processes of project management to solve dynamic classes of problems and vice versa. Generally leads to corporate carnage through massive cost over-runs and cancellations.

Unlike the other form of WMD, it does not lead to MAD (mutually assured destruction) hence preventing its use. Instead it is commonplace and used frequently within corporate and government boundaries, leading to a situation that MADness is the common state of affairs and WMD is applied liberally.

If you haven't read Scott's post .. you must, it is just so funny.