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Software Project Survival Guide Paperback – Oct 15 1997

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Microsoft Press; 1 edition (Oct. 15 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1572316217
  • ISBN-13: 978-1572316218
  • Product Dimensions: 18.8 x 2 x 22.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 540 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #213,946 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


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Targeted at managers (from the top of organizations down through technical leads), McConnell's book provides a blueprint for a successfully managed project; the postulated development effort involves "3 to 25 team members and schedules of 3 to 18 months." At 288 pages, the book could be thinner, but it's easy enough to get through. McConnell has an engaging, conversational style, with a tinge of irreverent humor -- both of which make this book easy to approach. He uses little jargon and includes a comprehensive glossary, so nontechies should find it easy enough to follow.

-- Chris Jaekl, Dr. Dobb's Journal -- Dr. Dobb's Journal

About the Author

Steve McConnell is recognized as one of the premier authors and voices in the development community. He is Chief Software Engineer of Construx Software and was the lead developer of Construx Estimate and of SPC Estimate Professional, winner of Software Development magazine's Productivity Award. He is the author of several books, including Code Complete and Rapid Development, both honored with Software Development magazine's Jolt Award.

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Our standards for software product performance are unbelievably exacting compared to our standards for software project performance. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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I will not dive into what is either good or bad about this book.
The reason I am giving 5 stars is because the book actually achieves its goal to those who read it.
The reader who gave two stars has actually missed the point of the book. It is not about planning. It is about planning _and_ managing. Successful execution of the right plan is the main point of the book.
Trivial things, you say? Yes, most of the concepts in the book are trivial (yet, very useful when organized nicely and in ready-to-use manner) Nevertheless, again and again I see projects that fail because of the wrong management. In fact, I would dare to say that all projects that failed in front of my eyes (and there were enough failed projects in my life) are due to mostly management issues: lack of vision, disconnection from team, "planned" overtime, unrealistic schedules due to pressure from upper management etc.
Inability to recognize management problem quickly leads to catastrophic results for mid-size companies and this books may prevent this for those who care.
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Format: Paperback
Good intro / light reading
McConnell's "Software Project Survival Guide" (SPSG) is a good intro to application development projects using the phased-release waterfall methodology. Unlike other software engineering overviews, he does not assume that his audience is sold on process in general, so he spends some time arguing and presenting facts and stats to support structured project management and software development.
The author presents most of the integral concepts of the discipline and maintains a companion website with templates and checklists. He shares his experience on what development managers should expect from their developers, testers, corporate culture and customers. I read SPSG when it first came out and recently completed it again for a refresh. Although the book is now six years old, the material is still relevant because of the level at which it is presented, even in today's landscape of customized COTS and web services applications.
It gets four stars rather than five because in the last third of the book he takes arbitrary dives into detail before he exhausts the breadth of the subject. For instance, he only once refers in passing to regression-testing and never mentions the concept of SDLC environments, yet offers up formulas for estimating defects using pooling and seeding. Chapters seem to get shorter as if he was in a hurry to finish. As SPSG is relatively short at 250 pages, it seems the author could have easily included another 50 pages to hit those missed topics at a high-level.
SPSG is great for the new manager but is less useful for the experienced manager or as a reference. Fortunately, he includes an annotated bibliography on resources that provide more detail.
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Format: Paperback
Steve McConnell is better known for his two bestsellers - Rapid Development and Code Complete. While those two books are more detailed, this book has the necessary preliminary coverage of what it takes to make a software project succeed. It's a very easy book to read and can probably be read in a matter of a few hours.
Steve assumes that the intended audience belongs to one of three groups of people - first group consists of 'top managers, executives, clients, investors, and end-user representatives', the second group consists of 'project managers', and the third group consists of 'technical leaders, professional developers, and self-taught programmers'. Or as he puts it 'anyone who has a stake in the software project's outcome'. But mostly he is assuming that you may not be exposed to many successful software project techniques and looking to rapidly get up to speed on a simple technique like the one outlined in this book.
The book addresses projects that have team sizes between 3 and 25 and schedules of 3 to 18 months. The plan is supposed to work for various types of software systems like client-server or scientific but I didn't see web design projects mentioned explicitly. It could be because of the time this book was published. I plan on trying the techniques on a couple of non-critical web design projects and analyze the outcome.
The book is 19 chapters, 250 pages and 4 sections. The four main sections are The Survival Mind-Set, Survival Preparations, Succeeding by Stages, and Mission Accomplished. The book starts out with a short welcome chapter on software project survival training and followed by another short chapter on assessing the state of your own project from a survival perspective (you take a test and get a score that indicates where your project is).
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Format: Paperback
This book is a strong theoretical background every software project manager should understand. The author provides deep analysis why such a big number of software projects fail. The author offers a set of reality-testing tools (software project survival test) that helps to understand chances of a project to success or to fail, from the very beginning.
An intriguing idea is that "software project need hierarchy" is essentially the same as Maslow's "human need hierarchy": human beings respond to a hierarchy of needs that involve a natural progression from lower motives to higher ones. Lower motives such as food, air and water must be satisfied before we can be motivated by the need for belongingness, love, self-esteem or self-actualization. Similar hierarchy of needs applies to software projects.
The author clearly shows that the outcome of any project depends equally on both the customer and the project team, and on the way of their communication and cooperation.
Showing the power of process and distinguishing "process" from "thrashing" and "productive work", the author doesn't decline that the people are always important.
Another cunning idea presented by the author is "The Cone of Uncertainty" which means "early in the project you can have firm cost and schedule target, or a firm feature set, but not both".
While by no doubt the first part of the book "The Survival Mind-Set" is an excellent theoretic inspection, the remaining, practical parts of the book are questionable.
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