Monthly Archives: November 2006

Transactional Programming

Seems like the word “transaction” has been prominent in my lexicon these last few months. First I wrote an article about “Transactional Warfare” which stated that all commercial transactions have some military value.

Programming is transactional too, just like many of the things you do every day. Funny thing is, most of the time we’re not even aware of it.

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Signs You Have Too Little Process

Use Case with Do Stuff written inside it
Is this all of your project documentation? Is it on a napkin?

I don’t like rules very much. And I hate, really hate, paperwork. So how did I end up as a process expert? I finally realized that good process is not about rules or paperwork, it’s about teaching common sense. Some of the things are non-intuitive, like good sotware development efforts should involve a small amount of programming. Some are common sense, like drawing boxes on a white board is a lot easier than fixing a program once it is in production.

I get a big kick out of going to shops that have too much process, as I’ve blogged about before, but I also get a kick out of shops that have no process at all. Sometimes it reminds me of visiting a chicken coop after a loud noise — there’s a lot of flapping, fluttering, and movement all over the place, but you’re just not sure that anything is really happening. Of course, that’s a large shop without process. In the small shops, plenty of stuff happens, especially when they haven’t reached the point where somebody figures out that writing code is only about ten percent of the cost of having software, which takes a few years. But oh, those first few years! Everybody is happy, programs are cranking out the door, and the complexity is just creeping into everything. Software is about managing complexity, and process is about managing software. You don’t have process, you got complexity problems.

So if you are a manager and have no idea what is going on in your shop, take heart. Perhaps you have too little process. Here are some handy-dandy clues that you might need a little more recipe book and less superman. Some of these are real-world examples.

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