Archive for February 2011

Michael’s Laws of Software Development

February 11, 2011

In the course of my career, I’ve come up with a few rules/laws that I’ve found to be true time and time again. Sadly, these laws are based on actual experience. So I thought I’d share them with the Software Development community (or the five people who read this blog):

I. Michael’s Immutable Law of Software Requirements

Users always perform the same process to the same data every time…except when they don’t.

II. Michael’s Law of Vocabulary Variance

Words like “required” seem to have a different meaning to a developer (“always must exist”) than to a user (“it must exist, unless I don’t feel like it”). Also “optional” also seems to mean “required”; unless, of course, if it doesn’t.

III. Michael’s Law of Feature Longevity

The feature that is a “must have” and is the hardest to code will be the feature that will be reversed in six months. See Laws I and II.

IV. Michael’s Law of Prioritization

Every feature or request is absolutely the highest priority, even if the requests are from the same person and there’s only one programmer to implement them.  When pressed to prioritize which features/requests should be addressed first, the answer is “all of them”.   Apparently, having dual core processors on computers now means that a programmer can program multiple features simultaneously.

V. Michael’s Law of Project Accountability

The lateness in delivery of code for testing is directly proportional to the perceived failure of the project.  However, the length of time it languishes waiting for testing and signoff, even if greater than the lateness of code delivery, has no effect on the perceived failure of the project. In a word, it’s always the developer’s fault.

VI. Michael’s Law of Diminishing Returns

When joining a successful company or new group within a company, that company or group will immediately lose resources (budget, personnel, etc.) approximately one year after you join it.  And it only gets better from there!

I’ll continue to update these as I uncover more laws of software development.  This blog would not be possible without the pioneering work of Mr. Murphy and all who came after him.

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