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Software Project Survival Guide (Developer Best Practices)
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44 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on November 17, 1999
Most (but not all) information in "Software Project Survival Guide" was also presented in "Rapid Development" by the same author.
The value of this book is not in the amount of information, because "Rapid Development" provides much more information and many different best practices.
The value of this book is the clear road map it gives you for running a project according to the "staged delivery" model. The checklists in the book are invaluable.
This book is a blessing for everyone who is overwhelmed by the amount of information in "Rapid Development".
I think this book is the perfect companion to "Rapid Development". "Rapid Development" is the authoritative reference for a lot of good practices. "Software Project Survival Guide" provides the checklists and road maps to keep the project on track in every phase of the project.
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134 of 149 people found the following review helpful
on May 18, 1998
I was disappointed in this book - perhaps it was a problem with expectations. McConnell's previous books - Code Complete and Rapid Development -were very well written and provided valuable insights into best practices in the computer industry. By attempting to do the same thing here, the author missed the mark. The Software Project Survival Guide presents a road map marked with good practice applied in a mature organization that understands the nature of software and responds rationally, providing the resources and time required to do the job right. The overwhelming majority of people who are taking on their first project management job will have few, if any, of the benefits that this book takes for granted.
Don't get me wrong. This is a great collection of really good ideas and it's really well written, but it doesn't give much guidance to the first-time project manager who needs to deal with misdirection and misunderstanding from those who he or she reports to. The book presents a fine set of suggestions on "Techniques for Really Good Project Management," but there isn't much on "Survival."
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
This book is especially helpful to those either: 1) new to managing projects 2) have never been formally trained in managing projects 3) are more on the business side of the fence and need insight into the software development process
I highly recommend this book if you fall into any of the above categories. I also recommend buying this book for any non-technical bosses.
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34 of 39 people found the following review helpful
Computer books written in 1997 are either obsolete or classics. This one is a classic and a timeless one at that because it gives a straightforward approach to development projects that is consistent with best practices. Best practices are usually born from lesson's learned from disasters. While there have been criticisms that this book might not be up to the realities of web development, I believe that the inverse is true: too many web development projects are initiated before they are properly planned, and are not effectively controlled because of unskilled project managers. But that's a personal opinion.
What you will find in this book that is applicable to any development project, regardless of whether the goal is a web- or e-commerce-based system, client/server or host-based. What you get is a structured approach to planning and estimating using proven methods (as opposed to pulling numbers out of thin air), excellent advice on organizing and motivating (and protecting) a project team, and how to manage delivery and release of a quality product. What I particularly like is the life-cycle framework, the controls provided to manage scope and product integrity and the emphasis on testing, release and quality. However, much of this can be mined from other books. What sets this book apart and makes it a classic is the wealth of tips and checklists and the way the author weaves his experiences into the approach. What makes this book effective is the copious advice given throughout about dealing with politics, people issues and other project and career killers. This book is about surviving projects and if the advice liberally sprinkled throughout is heeded it will go a long way towards helping you to do just that.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on January 22, 1998
McConnell's released books on good construction practises, and good development practices. Now he finishes the circle with a book on good management practices. McConnell has a very good way of integrating the thoughts of many prominent industry gurus into a readible comprehensive format. His talent is to recognize the best ways that improve people as software workers. The thoughts and techniques from his previous work, Rapid Development, were excellent, and it is "the Software Project Survival Guide" that puts those techniques into concrete perspective. He concentrates on only a few of his published techniques, those that are most tried and true, but also provides a framework well suited to young and upcoming technical students hoping to become managers. (Like myself 8-D) A great companion to this book is Tom Demarco's "The Deadline", as it adds the human-element of managing projects that sometimes seems missing from McConnell's book. This is not to the detriment of McConnell's work, it is just that his approach is different. McConnell's books are readible, interesting, and are the _best_ comprehensive books on improving yourself as a software worker. He's the guru of the 90's.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on October 20, 1999
In a past life I made the weekly study of this book a requirement for my entire software development management staff. Steve McConnell provides a blueprint that works with just about any project size. If you don't have a software development lifecycle, hand out copies of this book and tell you staff to "just do it." If you have processes that are defined and implemented use Steve's best practices to raise the bar in the organization. Either way, you and your organization are much better off than before...
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on April 19, 2000
As a new Manager of an outsourcing IT program. I'm living the "anti-mangers life" that Mcconnel points out in this book.
While reading this book several of the situations in this book were happing in "real-time" to me. i.e., "test addiction", non-existent requirements, et al.
I've seen proof of what McConnel outlines in this book-when you don't do a good job of gathering requirements early on you pay for it much more later.
I also like the fact that when questioned about a definition in this book, the author reqponded within an hour! Impressive
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on November 27, 2002
This book is a strong theoretical background every software project manager should understand. The author provides deep analysis why such a big number of software projects fail. The author offers a set of reality-testing tools (software project survival test) that helps to understand chances of a project to success or to fail, from the very beginning.
An intriguing idea is that "software project need hierarchy" is essentially the same as Maslow's "human need hierarchy": human beings respond to a hierarchy of needs that involve a natural progression from lower motives to higher ones. Lower motives such as food, air and water must be satisfied before we can be motivated by the need for belongingness, love, self-esteem or self-actualization. Similar hierarchy of needs applies to software projects.
The author clearly shows that the outcome of any project depends equally on both the customer and the project team, and on the way of their communication and cooperation.
Showing the power of process and distinguishing "process" from "thrashing" and "productive work", the author doesn't decline that the people are always important.
Another cunning idea presented by the author is "The Cone of Uncertainty" which means "early in the project you can have firm cost and schedule target, or a firm feature set, but not both".
While by no doubt the first part of the book "The Survival Mind-Set" is an excellent theoretic inspection, the remaining, practical parts of the book are questionable. I'd recommend you to take them skeptically, and, before taking decisive action, getting the full picture by reading "Agile Software Development" by Alistair Cockburn to get the overview of the modern methodologies, "Extreme Programming Explained" by Kent Beck as an example of such methodoloty, "Peopleware" by Tom Demarco & Timothy Lister to make sure that the good workplace and the jelled team is a major factor, "Quality is Free" by Philip B. Crosby to understand what really the quality is and "Leadership Without Easy Answers" by Ronald A. Heifetz to assure that nothing will succeed without a leader.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on August 5, 2001
I found the book very easy to understand and practice in your projects, it is not a theoretical book, in contrast all advices are practical and got from real experience. You still have to read other books about team dynamics.
This book is a must have book for any team leader or project manager.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on December 11, 2000
This book is a wonderful resource for the frustrated developer attempting to understand the software management process. It is filled with little understandings which illuminate different aspects of broken process. This book made be laugh and cry with recognition as I read it. I couldn't put it down.
What is useful about this book, is that it presents a complete process model. This book is a great vision reference for a group. It's completeness, is it's realy strength. Rather than focusing on what goes wrong, this book explains how to do things right, and points out what failures that prevents.
This book deserves all five stars, for it's completeness and focus, although I think a more appropriate title might be "A Complete Vision for Managing Software Projects." This book is not really about individual survival for Software Projects, it's about team survival. In that sense, this book is designed with the Manager in mind, rather than the individual developer.
The resources provided by the Author's website (and other books) raise the bar for what it means to be a software professional, and in that sense, this book is inspirational for the developer wishing to become an expert in their field.
I intend to have every co-worker in my group read this book.
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