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Software Project Survival Guide [Paperback]

Steve McConnell
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 15 1997 1572316217 978-1572316218 1

Equip yourself with SOFTWARE PROJECT SURVIVAL GUIDE. It's for everyone with a stake in the outcome of a development project--and especially for those without formal software project management training. That includes top managers, executives, clients, investors, end-user representatives, project managers, and technical leads.

Here you'll find guidance from the acclaimed author of the classics CODE COMPLETE and RAPID DEVELOPMENT. Steve McConnell draws on solid research and a career's worth of hard-won experience to map the surest path to your goal--what he calls "one specific approach to software development that works pretty well most of the time for most projects." Nineteen chapters in four sections cover the concepts and strategies you need for mastering the development process, including planning, design, management, quality assurance, testing, and archiving. For newcomers and seasoned project managers alike, SOFTWARE PROJECT SURVIVAL GUIDE draws on a vast store of techniques to create an elegantly simplified and reliable framework for project management success.

So don't worry about wandering among complex sets of project management techniques that require years to sort out and master. SOFTWARE PROJECT SURVIVAL GUIDE goes straight to the heart of the matter to help your projects succeed. And that makes it a required addition to every professional's bookshelf.

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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.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
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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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Intro/Refresh for PMs May 20 2005
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
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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4.0 out of 5 stars Good intro / light reading April 28 2004
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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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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4.0 out of 5 stars Good theory on project management Nov. 27 2002
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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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Buy it. Learn from it
I bought this book many moons ago, and it fundamentally changed the way I looked at Software Engineering, and gave me a start down the path of project management. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Zaphod
4.0 out of 5 stars The presented methodology is good but...
will the book be convincing enough for you to adopt it?

I have not found this book very fun to read because of its very structured and academic format. Read more
Published on Jan. 14 2008 by Olivier Langlois
4.0 out of 5 stars Good but Light
This was good, but a little light. I have really liked the author's other works and so I expected a lot from this. Maybe that was part of it. Read more
Published on Oct. 14 2003 by Randy Given
2.0 out of 5 stars If you need to read this You're in the wrong business
No statment in this book is incorrect, or even inaccurate. The problem with it is it goes on and on about a number of simple, if not trivially obvious facts about how to manage a... Read more
Published on Aug. 20 2003 by Tim H
4.0 out of 5 stars Project Management Review
This book was required for one of my graduate courses. However, I found it to be very useful reference book for software development project management. Read more
Published on June 9 2003 by Reader
5.0 out of 5 stars Go~~~~od
I've read this book when I was in my university.
And I'm reading this book again...
Published on June 1 2003 by KIM DAE A
5.0 out of 5 stars Go~~~~od
I've read this book when I was in my university.
And I'm reading this book again...
Published on June 1 2003 by KIM DAE A
5.0 out of 5 stars Go~~~~od
I've read this book when I was in my university.
And I'm reading this book again...
Published on June 1 2003 by KIM DAE A
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good for "Projects", but not for "projects"
This is an excellent guide to doing large software projects (10 man months minimum) well. Not only does it tell one what the right steps are, but also what difficulties one may... Read more
Published on Jan. 8 2003 by Eric Kassan
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