Software Development is Hard

I spent about four hours today with the rest of the Comcate team mostly talking and meeting about our ’05 software development plans. Getting into the details and talking through things at length was exhilerating and reminded me of my freshman and sophomore years when I was spending a lot more time with the company.

In 2004 we spent a big chunk of money and time to re-do our product and make it the most rock solid piece of CRM software out there for local governments. From a functionality perspective and ease-of-use perspective, our solution kicks-ass. But it didn’t come easy, and this next year won’t be any easier.

Our CTO used a saying today “You can get it fast, cheap, or good. Pick two, but you can’t get all three.” This captured for me the on-going communication and expectation challenges between folks from the business side and the technology side. Throw in outsourcing, offshoring, complicated product requirement docs, and a never ending wish list from clients, and it gets a whole lot more complicated.

Over the summer I spent some time getting up to speed on the Agile development methods and learned about a cool, philanthropy-minded company called Rally Dev.

As a result of our meetings today, I’ve added Mythical Man Month to my Amazon wish list; I’m embarassed to say I haven’t read it.

One of my very early advisors once told me “Ben, the most successful people of tomorrow will be those who can walk the walk and talk the talk in both the hard tech AND business side. Know both, and you’re in a minority that’s valued highly.” Coding and pure geek doesn’t fire me up as much as the business side, but I am trying to stay as plugged in as I can to everything technology related (like open source) so I can try to strike that balance as best I can.

2 comments on “Software Development is Hard
  • Wow, I’m sorry I never recommended “The Mythical Man Month” to you before.

    To make up for it, let me also recommend that you read “The Soul of a New Machine” by Tracy Kidder–the definitive work on high-performance teams.

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