Feeds

Should software developers do it for themselves?

We don't need no stinkin' management

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Boost IT visibility and business value

Reg Reader Workshop On March 7, 1992, a little-known Finnish software developer called Linus Torvalds issued version 0.13 of his open source operating system as version 0.95. It was a bold move, which took place (according to the FAQ) because "Linux is very close to a reliable/stable system". By moving the numbering system from incrementing from zero, to awfully close to 1, he set the sights of those involved very much on the goal.

Few today would have any doubt that the move paid off, but it is a fair reminder of Linus' hands-on role, which continues to the present day. Indeed, however touchy-feely one may consider the world of open source to be, the secret of its success can often be ascribed to a level of centralised control. "Normally the people you find at the core ... know how to run software projects," said Mark Taylor, president of the Open Source Consortium, recently.

The management of software development has always been beset with challenges regarding how to balance innovation with control. Too little control, and those pesky developers start writing their own stuff with scant regard for project deadlines (I remember, back in the day, one chap writing a programme to decide who should go down to the sausage roll machine at break time). But meanwhile there is the perception of overbearing management, who tie software artist-engineer-developers up in layer upon layer of Gantt charts, waterfall lifecycles and apparently unified processes.

It was to counter such views that modern Agile methodologies (such as XP) were first created. Rather than seeing project managers as the masters of the universe, they aimed to put more control in the hands of the developer. The idea was that developers, if allowed to innovate in a structured fashion, will get to an answer faster than being micro-managed through some long-winded process.

But perhaps it doesn’t matter a jot what level of control structure exists. Maybe it's the kinds of measurements in place that are going to make the difference, rather than who is doing the measuring. It's highly likely that ‘lines of code’ or ‘bugs fixed’ are not going to be the best metrics ever, but are they the best that some organisations have got, in the absence of any decent value measures? Perhaps agility and structure exist like a sine wave, rubber-banding from one to the other through the decades to maintain a common direction.

Do we need managers at all? Most probably we do – one can only imagine the lord-of-the-software-flies environments that might evolve given a complete absence of managers. Perhaps you’ve already experienced such a thing, in which case we’d love to hear from you, as we would if you believe the absence of structure is the root of all that is wrong about software projects. Do let us know your views. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
The Return of BSOD: Does ANYONE trust Microsoft patches?
Sysadmins, you're either fighting fires or seen as incompetents now
Microsoft refuses to nip 'Windows 9' unzip lip slip
Look at the shiny Windows 8.1, why can't you people talk about 8.1, sobs an exec somewhere
Intel's Raspberry Pi rival Galileo can now run Windows
Behold the Internet of Things. Wintel Things
Linux Foundation says many Linux admins and engineers are certifiable
Floats exam program to help IT employers lock up talent
Microsoft cries UNINSTALL in the wake of Blue Screens of Death™
Cache crash causes contained choloric calamity
Eat up Martha! Microsoft slings handwriting recog into OneNote on Android
Freehand input on non-Windows kit for the first time
Linux kernel devs made to finger their dongles before contributing code
Two-factor auth enabled for Kernel.org repositories
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
BYOD's dark side: Data protection
An endpoint data protection solution that adds value to the user and the organization so it can protect itself from data loss as well as leverage corporate data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?