Application Development Strategies

I recently attended a day of the Butler Group “Application Development Strategies” Symposium. I’ve just posted a short report on some of the more interesting discussions and presentations.

Almost all of the presentations shared a reminder that we still have a “software crisis” – the vast majority of software projects fail to deliver to their original targets and estimates. The presentations suggested three independent, but not exclusive, approaches to try and resolve the problem:

  • Adopting better, more agile processes to address fundamental weaknesses in “waterfall” processes,
  • Adopting better tools and techniques to improve development productivity and the integration of the application life-cycle,
  • Enforcing a stronger “enterprise architecture” framework for development.

This last one was surprising, with several papers echoing my view that a strong architecture is essential if agile development is to succeed on a large scale or in complex and critical applications.

There was also surprising agreement on things which won’t solve the problem:

  • No-one was promising a technical or product “silver bullet”. This includes web services!
  • No-one was suggesting that we should just “try harder” with old-fashioned tools and processes.
  • There’s no “one size fits all” solution. For example it’s a mistake to force a formal, high-ceremony process onto small business systems developments.
  • Excessive technical standardisation is also not the answer. The drawbacks include “lowest common denominator” technical solutions and inflated costs where the standard solution is “overkill”.

Read my report for more details.

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