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long live waterfall
March 8, 2006 9:11 AM   Subscribe

The Waterfall process is back. Attention all project managers.
posted by bingo (32 comments total)

 
cute.
posted by macmac at 9:16 AM on March 8, 2006


Like Christmas, April fools starts earlier every year.
posted by Bort at 9:17 AM on March 8, 2006


Meh. Some teams have the luxury of late deadlines and stoic specs. How they spend their idle time makes no diffrence.
posted by delmoi at 9:19 AM on March 8, 2006


"To make it clear, the waterfall was originally given as a _counter-example_, and it has never been seriously promoted by anyone smart enough to realise that just because something is in an easy-to-understand diagram, it shouldn't necessarily be treated as useful. yes, I know it's parody"
posted by Stynxno at 9:24 AM on March 8, 2006


With signatures!
posted by anomie at 9:27 AM on March 8, 2006


"We're project managers ma'am. We don't have a sense of humour we're aware of."
posted by Jofus at 9:29 AM on March 8, 2006


I think I used to work for this guy:

posted by JeffK at 9:30 AM on March 8, 2006


YeahIThinkNot.
posted by crunchyk9 at 9:37 AM on March 8, 2006


In case you are not familiar with Waterfall Method.
posted by fluffycreature at 9:44 AM on March 8, 2006


Hey, there should be some kinda warning cuz i almost fainted just reading the FPP!!! Umm isn't the whole concept of project management tools like MS Project based upon the waterfall method?
posted by adnanbwp at 9:49 AM on March 8, 2006


Anything but him

posted by elpapacito at 10:10 AM on March 8, 2006


Snarktastic!

Also funny, because I was discussing with a co-worker the other day if structured development had been replaced by iterative in most fields.

We were having a hard time coming up with Waterfall situations that absolutely could not be replaced with an Agile/Iterative method.
posted by butterstick at 10:16 AM on March 8, 2006


It hasn't and will never go away, not completely. An entire industry is built around using and supporting "waterfall" style heavy management processes. Dyed in the wool old-school PMs (and management in general) will never change - they don't have too, they can just blame incompetent developers or analysts or what-have-you.

Heck, I'm at a start-up company and even here the concepts of Gantt charts built around rigid analysis-design-develop structures are still present. Insanity.
posted by C.Batt at 10:20 AM on March 8, 2006


Oh dear god Refuctoring had coffee coming out of my nose.

We're just looking at implementing more Agile Processes here at work too.
posted by bitdamaged at 10:21 AM on March 8, 2006


isn't the whole concept of project management tools like MS Project based upon the waterfall method?

Not really using smaller more iterative development cycles can be tracked fine with Project. It's just a tool.
posted by bitdamaged at 10:24 AM on March 8, 2006


Wow, a lot of thought went into that joke. Funny stuff.
posted by xmutex at 10:29 AM on March 8, 2006


Our CMMI Level 3 and ISO 9001 processes are written with waterfall in mind, but allow tailoring to use other methodologies... As long as you do what you say, you're clear.

Nice to see other software developers out there... Ever wonder if your code will be around in 100 years?
posted by joecacti at 10:31 AM on March 8, 2006


Ever wonder if your code will be around in 100 years?

Are you kidding? We make small fleeting nothings that are obsolete within a year. As software developers we have a unique appreciation of despair.
posted by xmutex at 10:46 AM on March 8, 2006


Are you kidding? We make small fleeting nothings that are obsolete within a year. As software developers we have a unique appreciation of despair.

How come I'm still maintaining so many "fleeting nothings" 6 years after they where first written? If it works, it doesn't get replaced. Unless the spec is constantly moving, which for a lot of things it quite simply isn't. That's what standard are for right?
posted by public at 11:27 AM on March 8, 2006


It's a good alternative to the design process I use, the hydraulic jump method. Code first, think later.
posted by Psychnic at 11:30 AM on March 8, 2006


Ever wonder if your code will be around in 100 years?

The thought fills me with leaden dread.
posted by influx at 11:46 AM on March 8, 2006


I dunno, man. I've heard that there are still IBM 360s kicking around in banks and such. The code running on those machines has to be at least 30 years old.
posted by Afroblanco at 11:48 AM on March 8, 2006


heh, what about a VAX? those things are *still* being used
posted by raygun21 at 12:26 PM on March 8, 2006


Speaking of the 360, here's a counterfactual....
It is a very humbling experience to make a multimillion-dollar mistake, but it is also very memorable. I vividly recall the night we decided how to organize the actual writing of external specifications for OS/360. The manager of architecture, the manager of control program implementation, andI were threshing out the plan, schedule, and division of responsibilities.

The architecture manager had 10 good men. He asserted that they could write the specifications and do it right. It would take ten months, three more than the schedule allowed.

The control program manager had 150 men. He asserted that they could prepare the specifications, with the architecture team coordinating; it would be well-done and practical, and he could do it on schedule. Furthermore, if the architecture team did it, his 150 men would sit twiddling
their thumbs for ten months.

To this the architecture manager responded that if I gave the control program team the responsibility, the result would not in fact be on time, but would also be three months late, and of much lower quality. I did, and it was. He was right on both counts. Moreover, the lack of conceptual integrity made the system far more costly to build and change, and I would estimate that it added a year to debugging time.

-- Frederick Brooks Jr., "The Mythical Man Month"
The only advantage that code-first, spec later iterative style development has is that it appears to be fast. If you count in the debugging and refactoring time, it really isn't -- but when you consider that people now expect computers to not work correctly, a team that spends a year getting the design and spec right gets laid off. A team that sort of builds a spec around buggy code makes a ship date.

In a rational world, that second team would be laid off after the first customers returned the product and sued the company out of business for false advertising and intentionally selling defective products.

In the real world, you don't buy software, and it is specifically warranted as unfit for any purpose, and people buy it anyway.

So, iterative development not only make sense, it's the only development method that makes sense, because Worse Is Better.
posted by eriko at 12:33 PM on March 8, 2006


I dunno, I think there's a happy medium. The larger a project is, the more planning you must do ahead of time for each phase. However, that doesn't mean that the project can't be devided up into discrete phases, with each phase representing a usable, deliverable product.
posted by Afroblanco at 12:46 PM on March 8, 2006


Oh, god. I am so forwarding this link to my old Systems Analysis/Design professor. Thank you so very much for a good half hour of continuous chuckles.
posted by mystyk at 1:11 PM on March 8, 2006


heh, what about a VAX? those things are *still* being used

I work with some applications that run on VAX. They've been on the verge of being upgraded for something like 7 years.
posted by sonofsamiam at 1:15 PM on March 8, 2006


I had the pleasure of working for a startup company last year that was run by one of those guys who thinks he's an expert because he had a nameplate that said manager for a while at an already very well-functioning company. Of course he didn't realize that having all the pieces in place for a successful process is very different from building them up from the ground yourself, and still insisting on having a hand in everything rather than pass off the duty to someone with such experience.

This led to a development chart that looked _exactly_ like a waterfall chart. Part of me died when I didn't quit that very day.
posted by Space Coyote at 1:40 PM on March 8, 2006


Not really using smaller more iterative development cycles can be tracked fine with Project. It's just a tool.

I dunno man, those GANTT charts look pretty much like waterfalls to me. Even in smaller cycles, some dude has to sit and wait while the other dude does his work. In XP atleast both dudes can sit together and code while one thinks out loud. I tried that on one of the smaller projects and it worked great.

In retrospect, I go with what some one said about putting more effort upfront for bigger projects. Those refactoring hours make me sweat.
posted by adnanbwp at 2:06 PM on March 8, 2006


I dunno man, those GANTT charts look pretty much like waterfalls to me.

Not necessarily. Project Management principles apply to any development methodology - ie tracking & controlling cost, time & scope, with some resource management thrown in. MS Project is an OK tool for time & resources.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:42 PM on March 8, 2006


I think I know these people! No, really!
My favorite:
Management Patterns Gleaned from Government Oversight Programs: 70 Years of Experience in Effective Paragraph Numbering Schemes by Bill Tozier

OK, so I'm weird, sue me.
posted by nofundy at 5:48 AM on March 9, 2006


They've been on the verge of being upgraded for something like 7 years.

And everytime they find out that be reprogramming the instruction set of the CPU, then can make it last one more year.
posted by NewBornHippy at 2:57 AM on March 10, 2006


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