When a Fixed Price is a Reasonable Option

When a Fixed Price is a Reasonable Option

I still run into a lot of companies that have the expectation that software development can be done on a fixed-price basis. They’re either still used to waterfall management style, or dealing with goods vendors, or, maybe a few are still running into software developers willing to work on a fixed-price basis.

On this blog, we’ve talked about the dangers inherent in fixed-price development services. How companies willing to offer an FPB will triple their hourly rate for change requests in order to make up the margin they already know exists between what they think the project will cost, and what it actually will end up costing. How every project, no matter how well planned out, rarely looks the same at the finish as it did at the start. How the number of unknowns at the start of a development project could fill a dump truck. What we haven’t talked much about is when it is reasonable to ask for, or expect, a fixed price. (more…)

I’m Sorry: Your Software Project Will Never Be Finished.

I’m Sorry: Your Software Project Will Never Be Finished.

No, really.

In fact, when you go live, your software shouldn’t be “done.” If it is, you’ve done something wrong.

You see, in the history of software, there’s never been such a thing as a piece of software that launched without bugs. Think of your favorite, most used platforms. Gmail. Facebook. Salesforce. All are brimming with bugs. Every day a user writes into their contact forms about a bug they discovered, and while a lot of them are PEBKAC errors, a lot of them are legitimate bugs. And the ticket tracker logs them, someone triages them, and, eventually, most of them will be corrected.

But before that happens, some new feature will be added, or an existing feature will be modified (‘member when Facebook separated out the messages app from the FB mobile app?), and that will create a whole new series of bugs. (more…)

What Does It Mean to Be a “Thought Leader”?

What Does It Mean to Be a “Thought Leader”?

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.”

— Shunryu Suzuki

I was recently given the opportunity to present myself as a “thought leader for my industry.” I’ve been pondering this. What do I know? What do I know so deeply and fully that others might want to hear my opinions about it? Not much, it seems. Actually, I don’t have nearly as many answers as I have questions. But more than this, it’s the questions that really keep me interested. (more…)

Composing and Improvising: the Art of Software Development

Composing and Improvising: the Art of Software Development

In the early years of Art & Logic, my wife and I liked to visit a small inn in Palm Springs called Villa Royale. It was lovely. Each room was decorated in a different European country theme. The proprietors traveled frequently and brought back regional artifacts to lend authenticity to the room designs. It was a relaxed and creative space — especially the small pool at the back of the property with its odd shape and faux antique fountain. This was before we had children, so we had lots of hours to while away. I spent many of them pacing around that pool and sketching out my vision for how Art & Logic should work. How would we recruit developers? How would we keep track of our time? How would we bill our clients? (more…)