Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Software Projects: Quantifying Soft Factors

Process, as we all know, is an important variable in the equation for software project success. But, just how important? If a fairy God-mother were to give you just one wish towards your project's success factors, what would you ask for? That everybody adheres to your organization's "established" processes? Or that you had just one or two more senior developers? Or that your staff worked in quieter environment? Or how about a team entertainment budget?

Today, I read a relatively old (Nov/Dec 2001) article by Steve McConnell titled "Quantifying Soft Factors" It beautifully and very convincingly emphasizes the role of non-process soft factors. What Steve is trying to say (and I second him) is that process is a necessary but not a sufficient factor. It has been my experience too that motivation, environment and "experience in the team" are far more critical than a CMM Level 5 certification and adherence.

I conduct a three day training program in my company titled "Team Leadership and Project Management". Of the three days (two hours a day), I spend just about one day discussing Project Management. Many people have asked, "why not spend more time, as this is more important?" I have always said, "PM is important, but a Manager must develop other soft skills before you could expect him or her to execute effective project management". Steve's article kinda backs this up for me.