Pain is temporary, failure lasts forever

Lean, agile living for the running mother of Peter

2008-09-06

How hard can it be?

How can X take so much time? How hard can it be, I just want Y? It's just a simple Z I want?

No matter how they put it, people not directly involved in software development but who are stakeholders, or the guys paying probably think those questions. And not so few come to the same conclusion as Dilbert's boss in the comic strip.

And funniest of all is that when they are not happy with an estimate and somehow make the developers lessen their estimate: they are amazed that there are bugs. Wonder why...

I must admit that before sitting next to the people tapping in all that code, I probably thought something like that as well. But it didn't take me long to realize that it's not X, Y or Z which is the problem. The problem is that when X, Y, Z is decribed, it's described in the form of a standard process. And like all processes there are alternative paths and choices and situations. And building to handle that is hard. But in some cached mode and comptact framework and the form factor of a handheld device and you're in for a real ride.

Developers should go out to the users to understand their world, but stakeholders should also take part of the developers every day's decisions and the complexity in what you might see as a simply thingy. My boss said the other day that he wanted a butcon which did C. I said that it wasn't free but it can be prioritized. He said: how hard can it be: just put the button there and the users will be happy. Well putting the button there is not the hard part. It's a bit harder to meet the user's expectations when they press that button. Both when they are using it like my boss imagined them using it, and the ways he wasn't imagining it.

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