The Product mindset and the Services mindset

Posted by Robert Merrill on February 21, 2009 under Concepts | Be the First to Comment

Rick Freedman, writing about marketing for IT consultants on TechRepublic, put into clear, memorable terms something I’ve been trying to express for years, namely the difference between product sales and services sales.

Product selling is transaction-oriented, while services selling is relationship-oriented. Product businesses sell based on the “four Ps:” product, price, place, and promotion, while service businesses sell based on the “three Rs:” referral, reference, and reputation.

Diminishing Returns–A Key Agile Principle

Posted by Robert Merrill on February 6, 2009 under Agile Methods, Estimation | Read the First Comment

With just a little bit of effort, the uncertainty in a project estimate drops rapidly. But there comes a point where getting even a little bit more accuracy takes a lot more work (yellow line) and there's an absolute limit (red line) without actually doing the project.

With just a little bit of effort, the uncertainty in a project estimate drops rapidly. But there comes a point where getting even a little bit more accuracy takes a lot more work (yellow line) and there

“Real Agile teams don’t waste time on X.”

“You can’t deliver quality software without getting X right first.”

My favorite quote from fantasy writer and Christian apologist C. S. Lewis is this: “(The Devil) often sends errors into the world in pairs—pairs of opposites…He relies on your extra dislike of one to draw you gradually into the opposite one. But do not let us be fooled. We have to keep our eyes on the goal and go straight through between both errors.”

A key principle of Agile software development (and much else in business besides) is that of “diminishing returns.” At some point, extra effort in the same direction, even on generally worthwhile activity, is no longer worth it.

I most often find myself talking about diminishing returns when it comes to cost and schedule estimation. “Robert,” someone comes to me, “I have an idea for some software that’s going to save us a million bucks. How long would it take to build it?” Read more of this article »

All Methodologies Devolve

Posted by Robert Merrill on February 1, 2009 under Agile Methods | Read the First Comment

When software methodologists argue, they usually assume the proper application of their favorite. Unfortunately, in the real world, methdologies are seldom applied as their advocates intend.

Waterfall devolves to a “team” of isolated individuals, specialized by role, each accountable to a different manager, producing a very high ratio of paper to software. And the latter is late, over budget, sort of what the buyers asked for, and doesn’t deliver nearly as much value as promised in order to get the project funded.

Agile devolves to “Cowboy Coding,” Read more of this article »