Said It Before, Say It Again

David S. Linthicum explains in the SD Times why SOA projects in particular fail:

It’s just one of those things. Technical projects fail, and SOA is no exception. So, how do these failures occur? Like they always do: as a result of poor planning, lack of understanding or the inability to execute—and that’s the short list.

As you and I know, this is a bright and shiny way of looking at it. The real reasons that projects fail are as follows:

  • Overpromises. Salespeople say that the application or project will do what it cannot. Do they do it willfully? Sometimes. In other cases, they’re willfully ignorant of how technology and software development works. Their goal is sometimes happy customers, but always quotas met.
  • Fantastic timelines or budgets. The account people or project managers go to the team and ask how long it will take do a given project or feature. Then, the account people ignore the underestimates given by the developers who want to look like Rock Stars and who think they can build Rome in half a day, minus time for coffee and The Daily Show. Instead, the account people fit estimates and timelines to what the client wants, not what is possible, and as the end of the timeline or budget approaches, the team rallies and takes some shortcuts that ultimately will leave scars. Such as abandoning the QA phase or ignoring the bad news QA presents them about the quality of the product.
  • Egos. The developers expect that they’ll get everything right the first time and that testing their code is not only a waste of energy, but an insult to their manhood (women developers, too). Also, they feel that they’re wearing Kevlar trousers and that working by the seats of their pants will be bulletproof. Their flawless improvisational skills will ensure that every bubble-gum-and-baling-wire solution they implement at the last minute without testing will work good enough!
  • Apathy. If a number of projects fail, the team will become inured to failure and its lack of consequences. Or perhaps the team doesn’t take ownership because it’s a death march or they’re swapped into the project to compensate for others’ failures. As the man said:

    Only where love and need are one,
    And the work is play for mortal stakes,
    Is the deed ever really done
    For Heaven and the future’s sakes.

Now that’s a short list of why projects fail. Drop your own favored technologies into the mix and you’ll see the result is the same.

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