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Software Development Is Business Not Science

Some software projects stay in “beta” status for what seems like forever — a kind of perpetual beta. It may seem odd but let’s think about this. Most businesses are effectively in perpetual beta, so the software they develop must be too.

How can a mature business be in perpetual beta?

How can it not! Markets are in a continual state of change. In fact, today markets change faster than ever. The global economy spawns competitors at a blistering pace — new companies, new products, new methods. Every company that hopes to stay competitive must continually respond to market changes and evolve to meet them.

Businesses are continually trying new ideas in perpetual beta cycles. Thus, it’s only natural for software to be in perpetual beta too. The software is never done. It evolves. If the software was done, the business would be done too.

Why does this matter? Because many teams approach software development like an exact science. They want the software to be nearly perfect. They expect it to be finished at the end of the project. They expect it to hold up for an extended period of time.

Their expectations aren’t realistic. There must be something they don’t understand. Could it be…

  • how free markets work,
  • how businesses respond to changing market dynamics,
  • or, how companies deal with cost pressures?

Once you accept that businesses are in a perpetual state of change, it becomes apparent that traditional approaches to software development simply can’t meet the needs of today’s businesses. We need a more flexible and faster-paced approach. Here’s how I’d define one.

Value People: respect your team; communicate openly and honestly; establish work-life balance; take prudent risks

Minimize Process: collaborate continuously; fail fast but small; make the project visible; make everyone accountable

Create Business Value: establish clear goals; focus on results; deliver early and repeatedly

I’ve avoid attaching any labels to these ideas. Call this software development approach whatever you want. Stop thinking like an analytical scientist and start thinking like a business person.

photo credit: Good Eye Might via photopin cc

Updated: October 21, 2012 — 9:51 pm
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