Thursday, April 25, 2002

Planning Smarter: Creating Blueprint Quality Software Specifications is a new book that fills that unique niche between the dozens (or more) books on requirements, and the thousands of books about development.

Read this book with an open mind because it is going to expose specification and planning shortcomings in the major methodologies, such as the Microsoft Solutions Framework, Unified Process, Unified Modeling Language. In fact the author states in the preface that he does not expect readers to agree with everything in this book.

What I like about this book is that it's independent of methodologies and development environments. More importantly, it's not another methodology, but a short, focused book that will teach you how to make your existing methodology workable. It's also focused on the planning process and does not stray from it. Among my favorite parts are:

The book is engaging because the author has an active writing style and uses anecdotes from real life to reinforce points. It's also filled with common sense (something that appears to be uncommon during the planning phases of many of the hundreds of projects in which I've been involved). If you take the time to carefully read through this book you'll come away with some solid principles that support effective planning, and a process-oriented approach that will fit within any methodology. Do not expect to find procedures for performing quantitative planning activities - those can be found in most books on project management. Do expect, however, to learn how to approach the planning process the right way. I think every software project manager, requirements analyst and specification developer sho/wwwread this book before taking on their next project or assignment.

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