Darwin Story 1 (3/9/2007)

A while back, I received an email from a friend that just landed a job as a project manager for a software development effort in a small to mid-size company. He wanted to know what the latest tools for managing projects were, and how he could get a cheap one fast. He wanted something that could manage tasks and track progress against a schedule, but it needed to be multi-user so he could have the developers plugging in information on the fly.

So I asked him what process the team was using. The didn't have one, although people were occasionally mumbling about agile and extreme. I asked him what process he intended to introduce into the vacuum. No thoughts on that; he just wanted a tool to do the job for him.

So I recommended FogBugz and Vault. I figured that if he implemented these tools and got any decent level of adoption from the team, at least he'd have configuration management and issue tracking functional for their next project. I wasn't counting on the current project succeeding in any meaningful fashion.

I've done several articles on the details of software project management, and along with tons of other web sites, authors, bloggers, consultancies and big development firms, I believe it's important you have a process in your pocket before you can leverage tools against it. Otherwise, you have no fulcrum for your lever.

But we're all just crying in the wilderness. Even Watts Humphrey wrote an article titled Why Don't They Practice What We Preach? Maybe it's a Darwin thing.