Monday, June 11, 2012

Can Software Projects Mature by Accident?

More than 100 years ago, tea importers in New York used to send samples of tea to their customers in small tin boxes.  Those days, the cost of tin boxes was soaring.  Thomas Sullivan, a tea importer in New York wanted to avoid the usage of tin boxes. He wanted to try a cost-effective way of packing tea samples.  Mr. Sullivan, in 1908 started using hand-made silk bags. One of his customers dunked a silk bag of tea into hot water by accident and found that it brewed a cup of tea! It was lovely! This accident gave birth to the idea called ‘tea bag’ or ‘dip tea’. Customers started liking tea bags more than tin boxes.  This is how tea bag was invented. It happened by accident!

There are several ideas and innovations around us. They were created by accident not by design!

Can software projects mature by accident? Or can we let software projects mature by accident?  When software projects mature by accident the end result is a negative impact on stakeholders. Accidents in software projects erode customer satisfaction and hence can impact the brand value of businesses. Can we make software project mature by design?

Watts Humphrey wrote, “Quality products are not produced by accident. While most software professionals claim to value quality, they take no specific steps to manage it. In every other technical field, professionals have learned that quality management is essential to get consistently high quality products on competitive schedules. They have also learned that quality management is impossible without quality measures and quality data. As long as software people try to improve quality without measuring and managing quality, they will make little or no progress.”

Distributed agile has gained popularity in our industry. However, we cannot afford to mature distributed agile projects by accident. We need to focus on continuous improvement so that projects mature by design. For more information on distributed agile and maturity of distributed agile projects, listen to this podcast produced by Tom Cagley.

Distributed Agile Podcast:

Distributed Agile: The Maturity Curve, article published in Agile Record


Anonymous said...

Great post!

It should be noted that the accidental success (the tea bag) was not the intended use. In that case it worked, but if one delivered FaceBook when the customer wanted an accounting system, then the reception would be lot less warm.

Raja Bavani said...

Thanks Gene! Interesting comments! We cannot afford to wait for accidental success in software projects!