Tuesday, October 5, 2004

We have met the enemy and they are us!

An article at msnbc.com states that software disasters are often people problems. The direct link to the MSNBC article can be found here. I was referred to the article by a posting in slashdot. Quoting the article:

Such disasters are often blamed on bad software, but the cause is rarely bad programming. As systems growm more complicated, failures instead have far less technical explanations: bad management, communication or training.

Although the article confuses what software is and is not (the SAP system is software, the application software added to it is not), the points it makes are still relevant. It refers to issues with requirements, stakeholder participation, operations, testing, end user training and inhomogeneity of technical understanding. Inhomogeneity of technical understanding is a multics term for a horrible project scenario which exists when managers do not understand software technology and developers do not understand the big picture, the context in which their software would run. Unfortunately this occurs all too frequently.

The article cites a National Institute of Standards and Technology study that software bugs cost $59.5 billon each year and a third of that can be attributed to inadequate testing. The pdf for the 300+ page report,"The Economic Impacts of Inadequate Infrastructure for Software Testing," can be downloaded here.

The title of this post was a quote from the comic strip, Pogo, penned by Walt Kelly which was an adaption of an Admiral Oliver Hazard Perry quote after a naval battle. You can find more information about the context of his quote here.

As always commenst are appreciated. Later!