Improve your productivity by a minimum of 12% and improve quality by a minimum of 15%
These practices are so common that people assume that they are normal -- they are not, they are silent killers wherever they are present.
We hear the term best practices enough to know that we all have different definitions for it. Simply put, a best practice is one that increases the chance your project will succeed.
More importantly, what about those worst practices in your organization that you don't do anything about?
When it comes to a worst practice, just stop it.
To make matters worse, some of the worst practices will trigger other worst practices to come into play1.
The 5 Worst PracticesThe worst practices and their effect on productivity and quality are as follows:
|Friction/antagonism among team members||-12%||-15%|
|Friction/antagonism among management||-14%||-19%|
|Inadequate communications with stakeholders||-14%||-19%|
|Layoffs/loss of key personnel||-16%||-22%|
|Excessive schedule pressure||-16%||-23%|
Excessive Schedule PressureExcessive schedule pressure is present whenever any of the following are practiced:
- Senior management declares the project deadline
- Formal estimation methods are used and ignored
- Informal (or dubious) estimation methods are used
- Poor and incomplete requirements lead to extreme scope creep
- Architecture is an afterthought
- Code is written too quickly
- QA is reduced or skipped
Effect of excessive schedule pressure is that productivity will be down 16% and quality will be down 22%
Not only is excessive schedule pressure one of the worst practices it tends to drive the other worst practices:
- Friction amongst managers
- Friction amongst team members
- Increases the chance that key people leave the organization
If your organization has a habit of imposing excessive schedule pressure -- leave!
Friction Between People
You don't have to like everyone on your team and you don't have to agree with all their decisions.
You must understand that the team is more important than any single individual and learn to work through your differences.
Teams only work well when they are hard on the problem, not each other!
Managers win together and lose together.
Effect of management friction is that productivity will be down 14% and quality will be down 19%
Effect of team friction is that productivity will be down 12% and quality will be down 15%
You are wrong if you think that friction can be allowed and projects will succeed.
Any form of friction between managers or the team is deadly.
Inadequate Stakeholder Communication
- Not getting enough information on business objectives
- Not developing software in a transparent manner
Effect of inadequate stakeholder communication is that productivity will be down 14% and quality will be down 19%
Loss of Key Personnel
- Key personnel leaving your organization
- Key personnel being layed off
Badly managed organizations and projects will cause the most competent people to seek better jobs elsewhere.
In addition, projects in distress tend to cut key personnel because they are expensive. Laying off key personnel will sandbag your ability to get back on track; laying off non-performing people is the only way to advance a late project.
Effect of layoffs/loss of key personnel is that productivity will be down 16% and quality will be down 22%
Loss of key personnel has a dramatic effect productivity and morale and directly affects product quality
Any of the worst practices mentioned above will cause a project to be late and deliver defective code.
If you are in an organization that habitually practices any of these worst practices then your only real option is to quit.
Worst practices tend to feed each other and cause a negative spiral such as:
- Excessive schedule pressure (leads to)
- Management and team friction (leads to)
- Loss of key personnel
Senior managers that allow any of these practices can count on canceled projects and/or highly defective products
- Gilb, Tom and Graham, Dorothy; Software Inspections; Addison Wesley, Reading, MA; 1993; ISBN 10: 0201631814.
- 1Jones, Capers. SCORING AND EVALUATING SOFTWARE METHODS, PRACTICES, AND RESULTS. 2008.
- Radice, Ronald A.; High Qualitiy Low Cost Software Inspections; Paradoxicon Publishingl Andover, MA; ISBN 0-9645913-1-6; 2002; 479 pages.
- Wiegers, Karl E.; Peer Reviews in Software – A Practical Guide; Addison Wesley Longman, Boston, MA; ISBN 0-201-73485-0; 2002; 232 pages.