(This is a snapshot of my old weblog. New posts and selected republished essays can be found at raganwald.com.)

Monday, October 22, 2007
  The Shipping News

Joel Spolsky has announced that Evidence-Based Scheduling is shipping as part of FogBugz 6.0, available now. This is the sort of thing I had in mind when I started to wonder whether we can predict the future of a software development project with objective observation?

In fact, I built a prototype that did the exact thing that FogBugz is doing quite some time ago. However, prototypes are not shipping products. FogBugz is a shipping product. My prototype was not. And that makes all the difference.

One of the challenges I faced was that I was trying to solve the wrong ^H^H^H ^H^H^H^H^H a different problem. I was not trying to solve the “when will we ship” problem, I was trying to solve the green-shift problem. In other words, I was trying to solve the “when will we ship” problem given the basic assumption that people will attempt to game the program to deliver the green light.

I failed to solve that problem. Unfortunately, I did not fail in such a way that I succeeded in solving a simpler problem. Instead of turning working prototypes into money, I was casting them aside, muttering, “not enough.”

For example, I was (and still am) very interested in how project dynamics change over time. I have observed that some teams have a fairly steady velocity, while others trail off drastically as they near the alleged ship date. So I wasted a lot of time trying to find out how to classify projects based on the evidence they generate in the early stages of development. Meanwhile, of course, I could have and should have packaged something up and just shipped it.

All the thinking in the world has not helped anybody ship more software. But FogBugz 6.0 will, because it is shipping. Shipping matters.

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Reg Braithwaite

Recent Writing
Homoiconic Technical Writing / raganwald.posterous.com

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