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A New Classic for Business and IT!
on February 6, 2004
Edward Yourdon begins with a definition of a "death march" as any project where the schedule has been arbitrarily compressed by half, the budget has been reduced by 50% or more, the requirements of the project are more than 50% of what can be reasonably expected, or for whatever reason, the risk of project failure is greater than 50%. Given the likelihood of a permanently high-pressure, intensely competitive business environment, death-march projects will remain the norm in the IT industry, and they will continue to appear practically everywhere in business in the future.
The first edition of Death March was for me, as most in the IT industry, gratifying for its dead-on assessment of the realities of IT projects in today's economy. The title is unforgettable, sadly accurate, and particularly resonant in today's increasingly frenetic business environment. The original edition was primarily a diagnosis of the zeitgeist of the IT industry, yet it didn't propose enough solutions for the unfortunates caught in death-march projects. The new, somewhat longer second edition, offers practical solutions for dealing with death marches and the major concerns of potential readers, i.e., what can I do tomorrow? The second edition includes advice on negotiation and estimation, as well as techniques for time management and controlling interruptions.
This is a short and disturbing book-usefully short, because if you really need to read the book, you probably don't have time to read it. But for anyone involved with project or technical management, it is a must-read. And it's not a bad idea for the marketing and sales people who sometime spawn death marches to give it a look, too. With the second edition, Mr. Yourdon has created an enduring work for the IT industry and the general business reader as well, a new classic that I keep on the shelf next to Peopleware and The Mythical Man-Month.