Customer Review

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Could benefit from a reduced page count and more stucture, 15 Mar. 2004
This review is from: CRASH: Learning From The World's Worst Computer Disasters (With Year 2000 Update) (Paperback)
I must admit that being in "the industry" is the main reason why I bought this book. I was also pleased to see that someone had finally put down on paper some of the issues which seem to plague the IT business. That said however it did take me two attempts to successfully complete the journey from cover to cover. There are numerous reasons for this.
While the authors break the chapters up, seemingly, according to topic they never seem to actually focus on the intended topic (and in a few cases, spread the "topic" over three or more chapters e.g. the "Lawyers" chapters). In my experience this resulted in a lack of closure on the completion of each chapter (i.e. I found it difficult to answer the question "what have I learned here"). The authors also tend to diverge quite a bit from the points they try to make by going into seemingly extensive discussions regarding the projects reviewed without actually adding any detail (the realtively short bibliography at the back of the book is further testament to this). This is most evident in one of the last chapters which covers 5 steps to follow in order to avoid the common pitfalls - I'm still not sure what the five steps are. In fact, if it wasn't for the fact that the points they were trying to make were in bold, I might have missed them all together.
Being a technical person I also found the format too literary and lacking in detail (i.e. what hardware was used, what software was used - something which the authors themselves acknowledge as being important). I suspect that this may have something to do with the fact that the authors are trade journalists and do not necessarily have first hand experience of what goes into a software development project. I believe this conclusion is further supported by the authors obvious bias towards "business" (as opposed to "the supplier").
Most of the projects focused on were also of the "massive" variety (i.e. costing in the tens of millions of pounds and taking years to complete) which, I believe, made the analysis afforded them, a bit simplistic (in fairness they were mostly public sector projects which were probably easier to source documentation on).
From what I have said you might think that this book is not worth reading but this is not the case. It does indeed offer valuable insights into the industry if you are prepared to sift through a lot of fluff and pompous words (the first or second chapter is called "Pusillanimity"). I think the book could however be packaged into a more easily consumable format through the shedding of 200 pages and the distilling of its essence into standardised reviews/post mortems with a bulleted list of things to learn/avoid/watch out for.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 9 May 2008 17:10:08 BDT
Last edited by the author on 9 May 2008 17:11:40 BDT
K. M. Brady says:
Some of the comments complaining about aspects of this book are just Knit-Picking in my view. This book is the very best source of real world case study data on failed projects and programmes on the market. The only complaint I have is when will they publish a second addition with more great real world material. I have wondered sometimes why it is not more of a landmark book as I know of a couple of heavy weight programme managers which have told me that the contents of this book changed totally their perspective on how they now manage their programmes going forward. I work for one of the largest management consultants and all newbie project managers need to be handed this book on day 1 in the company so they know what oven they have voluntered to put their head in. Like the Foreign Legion such a book can deconstruct a young manager and then allow one to mold them into a high maturity professional in short order. Brilliant Book !!!!!!!!!
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