- Paperback: 196 pages
- Publisher: Dorset House Publishing Co Inc.,U.S. (1 Mar. 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0932633609
- ISBN-13: 978-0932633606
- Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 14.6 x 22.2 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 305,705 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Waltzing with Bears: Managing Risk on Software Projects Paperback – 1 Mar 2003
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Top Customer Reviews
It may be surprising where DeMarco & Lister start from, explaining what risk is, why we need to accept it and why we must manage it, but they explain how common attitudes in the IT industry, which they correctly term "pathologies", can make it almost impossible to properly acknowledge and manage risks.
Maybe it's my background as a physicist, but I assumed that most project managers understand the concept of uncertainty in estimates of cost, timescale and benefits. The authors clearly start from the opposite position. This may be a little off-putting for some readers, but will definitely help those to whom this is a new concept, while the use of "uncertainty diagrams" (probability profiles) will be a useful addition to the toolkit even for those more familiar with the underlying ideas.
The book is very strong on how risk impacts budget and schedule, and how to more scientifically make goals and committed targets more realistic. There's a very good discussion of how to assess deadlines using probability theory, which shows the folly of trying to manage large efforts by single deadlines. The book also includes a very good section on brainstorming and analysing different stakeholders' "win" conditions to identify potential risks.
One weakness is the almost total lack of discussion of risk prevention - actively working to prevent a risk materialising, or at least to reduce its probability as well as mitigating its impact.Read more ›
Risk has been become a vogue word in software development. Everybody talks about it, and says that it is being considered. However, a large part of the discussion is lip service. What is apparent is that 'risk' is not a small subject, and any discussion on this subject will invariably involve weighty matters. How can benefits be calculated? How are costs determined?
So is risk inherently wrong? Risk involves uncertainty. Halfway down the first page of Chapter 1 is a wonderful statement, summing up the gains to be claimed by embarking on a risky venture. "If a project has no risks, don't do it". The authors slay a few myths along the way. It is not wrong to be uncertain. Risk is about trying to minimise the uncertainties, or rather to minimise the damage caused by events that you hope will not happen. Therefore, if you don't know, ask questions about what you do not know. That is very different to some work places, where it is considered bad form to raise items on the risk register. There are instances when blindingly obvious risks have not been considered. "Oh, you mean THAT train" - as it speeds towards you. Projects that negotiate dark railroad tunnels will find trains hurtling towards them. FACT. It is the nightmares that need to be addressed, not the petty worries.Read more ›
Any project that doesn't have risk in it probably isn't worth doing. If you try to squeeze all the risk out of a project before you start (which is an approach I've often seen, alas), you'll end up with a lack-lustre and mediocre project. On the other hand, if you rush into a risky project just with a strong "can-do" attitude, hoping to get lots of lucky breaks, the outcome is unlikely to be any more successful for you.
The route the DeMarco and Lister advocate is a very sensible middle ground, where risks are continually assessed and tracked. They give lots of practical guidance on how to carry this out.
An early chapter on the fiasco of the delayed software for the DIA (Dallas International Airport) project is well worth the price of the book on its own. Think that the problem was due to faulty software development procedures? Think again. DeMarco and Lister make it clear that faulty risk-management was to blame.
The book also contains a powerful argument in favour of incremental delivery of projects, in which intermediate versions (containing real value) are made available every few weeks, with "near ready-to-ship" quality. This follows from actively managing the riskiest parts of the project, which should be brought forward in the project (so long as they will deliver real value - which is another question worth exploring) and addressed early. Aggressively managing the risks in this way will result in better predictability, and more satisfaction all round.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great guide on how to really do risk-management properly. The book offers lots of practical tips and gives lots to think about.Published 1 month ago by Mattia
Even if you're doing "agile" software delivery, which promotes just in time flexibility over large periods of upfront planning, this book will show you how shortsighted... Read morePublished 16 months ago by M. Pearce
Good book which I needed at time for college course I was doing.
Probably dated now however, but if author has anything recent would be worth taking a look!
I have tended to find that the smaller computer science textbooks are actually better than the inch thick that are more common. Read morePublished on 29 Mar. 2009 by Mrs. AS Goodwin
I've read this book in connection with work-related stuff (pushing my little project at work) - I found this book more honest on dirty-laundry of software projects than usual books... Read morePublished on 6 Aug. 2008 by A.T.
It felt that things that the book described has happen to me. It came several times to mind while reading that oh I wish I knew this earlier. Read morePublished on 8 May 2008 by Kerola Sami
The authors correctly identify common reasons why software projects are so often over budget, late or even abandoned. Read morePublished on 20 Jan. 2007 by Alex Nunes