Monday, September 13, 2010

Tom DeMarco on Control

You can't control what you can't measure.

In "Controlling Software Projects, Management Measurement & Estimation". Tom DeMarco (1940-), American software engineer, author, teacher and speaker on software engineering topics.

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Ricardo Brandão said...

Seeing this post just reminded me that Tom DeMarco concluded, one year ago or so, that his early thoughts on Software as an engineering discipline were WRONG.

You may read it here:

Of course we still need to control a whole bunch of things while measuring them, but during a non trivial software project many other things get managed despite their "unmeasurable" nature...

Luis Seabra Coelho said...

Ricardo, thank you for you comment and link.

I think it's all to hard to link project management success to control like, it seems, Tom DeMarco intended.

The value in this quote is the reminder that it's easier to control when you have quantitative information: "this task is late by 2 days" enables you to take some action while "this task can be late" doesn't. So if you plan your project to provide you with the data you need to control it you're better off.

But then again, "If everything seems under control, you're just not going fast enough." (Mario Andretti). How much control you should have on a project is a balance hard to figure and the right one depends on each project's context - some need to have many control mechanisms and some don't.

How do you usually go about it on your projects? This is an interesting discussion, I'm putting it on the Facebook page.