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Seymour Cray, the designer of the Cray supercomputers, says that he does not attempt to exceed engineering limits in more than two areas at a time because the risk of failure is too high. Many software projects could learn a lesson from Cray. If your project strains the limits of computer science by requiring the creation of new algorithms or new computing practices, you're not doing software development; you're doing software research. Software-development schedules are reasonably predictable; software research schedules are not even theoretically predictable.

If you have product goals that push the state of the art--algorithms, speed, memory usage, and so on--you should expect great uncertainty in your scheduling. If you're pushing the state of the art and you have any other weaknesses in your project--personnel shortages, personnel weaknesses, vague requirements, unstable interfaces with outside contractors--you can throw predictable scheduling out the window. If you want to advance the state of the art, by all means, do it. But don't expect to do it rapidly!

Source: Entry #32 in by Steve McConnell
Category Project Management
( Topic last updated: 2004.04.11 12:41:03 PM )