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Complex systems

Remember Conway’s Law

October 8, 2013 10 Comments
Remember Conway’s Law

Some years ago, I was called in to lead a team of three other people in reviewing a major project at a Fortune 50 corporation. This project, which I’ll call QUBE, was a major end-to-end re-engineering of that firm’s mission-critical systems, intended to replace all the existing legacy systems. The QUBE project was supposed to […]

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Septic code: why some large IT projects never go into production

September 12, 2013 4 Comments
Septic code: why some large IT projects never go into production

A common pattern in the failure of large IT software projects is “the Never-Ending Story”, which I described back in 2000 (PDF) as follows: The client contracts with the manufacturer to develop and install a system. The project starts. The completion date slips. It keeps slipping. Each time the adjusted delivery date approaches, the project slips […]

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The Unhappy Valley: customized COTS between “buy” and “build”

August 13, 2013 1 Comment
The Unhappy Valley: customized COTS between “buy” and “build”

In response to my post yesterday on buy vs. build, Geoff asked a very important question: I’d be interested to get your opinion on the degree of customisation that COTS packages can realistically handle. I’ve seen several systems that started out as customised COTS, but eventually departed so far from the vanilla functionality that we […]

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Pushing for the right IT project solution

July 29, 2013 1 Comment
Pushing for the right IT project solution

In my last post, I talked about some of the reasons why large organizations often reject the best solutions for a troubled IT project: fear, pride, budget, and the ever-present internal politics. This week, as promised, I will talk about what it takes to champion the right solution. I can’t guarantee that you’ll succeed, but […]

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Resistance to the right IT project solution

July 26, 2013 0 Comments
Resistance to the right IT project solution

Over lunch some years back, Barry Glasco (a colleague) and I were reminiscing about corporate IT projects that we’d worked on as consultants over the years. Typically, these were large systems that were either having trouble being completed or were having serious problems once they were in production. Barry pointed out a self-defeating pitfall or […]

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