Friday 31 August 2007

Why is software late?

The reason I have not posted anything over the last couple of weeks is because I've been very busy working on the migration of our applications from Ingres 2.6 to the latest 2006 R2 release. We had originally intended to ship this out in late July, but we are now looking (and hoping!) that things will be ready to ship by the end of next week.

So why are we late?

As I've reflected on it, I'm reminded that most IT projects fall into one of the following categories:

1) Release it only when it's ready (typical for many open source projects)
2) Release on time and then apply numerous patches later
3) Release late (and probably over budget)

Vista is probably the most famous project that was late, and this week Microsoft announced that Server 2008 will be delayed. Tonight I read that KDE 4.0 will be delayed by two months, and almost every government IT project is both late and overbudget.

In our case, the problem has been the discovery of a number of bugs that have required patches (for the database) or changes to our code. These have been difficult to predict and requires regression testing (the fact we want to simultaneously release on four platforms only adds to the delay). Now this is not intended to be a cheap excuse, but it does highlight a problem that affects all parts of the industry.

As long as projects like this are "stabs in the dark" (caused by using new and sometimes unfamiliar technology), I'm not sure how things can improve.

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