Arkisto: November 2012

Short but Sweet

26. Novemberta, 2012 | Kirjoittaja: Antti Niittyviita

I recently had a long discussion about the difficulty of specifying. In one firm, the specification phase gave them loads of trouble, since it seemed to drag on for very long times with each time. In worst cases, even years. As a result, the feature list of the software under development had pages upon pages of speculated material to go through.

No one felt like reading the specifications afterwards. Finally, even the implementation did not match them. The situation is actually quite typical in big software projects or in organizations who are set in their ways.

Steps to take in order to fix the situation is quite simple:

Decide first what is the maximum length of a document. Agree upon that each document is at most two A4-pages long. Then focus on crystallizing it.

Silence fell to the opposite side of the table. “You can actually do that?!”. I think you can. And should.

I easily produce pages upon pages of dragging on and useless drivel. If even for a moment you feel like doing the same, I recommend returning to Mark Twain’s words.

I apologize, since I had no time to write briefly.

Person’s Innate Laziness as a Trump Card

8. Novemberta, 2012 | Kirjoittaja: Antti Niittyviita

I admit. I can be pretty lazy sometimes. My opinions reflect that quite easily:

  1. Vacuum cleaning is pretty darn boring. Same areas one week after another.
  2. Washing the dishes is stifling. The cleaning agent dries the sensitive engineer fingers.
  3. When ploughing snow I get sweaty and get way too much fresh air. Not good for a nerd.
  4. It always makes me feel anxious to pay bills, even when doing it through a terminal.

When things get boring, my creativity blossoms. Suddenly, I start working hard to solve my problem. I get a robot vacuum cleaner, which takes care of about 90% of the boredom. Investing in a dish washer easens the workload by 85%. To plough snow, I borrow the neighbour’s snow blower if things get really hard. Paying bills gets 80% of them done automatically when using the web bank.

Automation really makes life easier. I use tools for the jobs that I do not feel like doing, or if I want to get them done faster. In kind of chores, which would not benefit me or my household any extra if done manually. The same principle holds true for software development or testing.

  • Do not automate, if manual work provides results and feels better.
  • Automate, if manual work is super boring and repetitive.

The pit fall of automation when someone estranged from manual work makes decisions regarding the direction the business of project is going. Then, the goal gets shifted from a operational end result towards functioning automation. Ultimately, the people will work towards the wrong end result.

People have a habit of finding ways to do less work. Trust in that innate laziness. Give your team free reins to choose their tools, so automation is sure to find their way to your place, too.