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Posted by Avadhut on 28 April 2007

A PMP is a project management plan, and I consider it as important to a software project as earbuds are to a fish.
When I came in on Monday hoping to get my hands dirty with MySQL, Drupal, and some good old-fashioned PHP, this is what my CIO expects me to do—prepare a freaking PMP!
What does it do? Make people run here and there achieving absolutely nothing. Seriously!

Preparing it made me feel like I was back in college preparing UML and use case-diagrams without really knowing their usefulness—the so called essential documentation of a software project. My stay in college hadn’t been a particularly efficient learning experience. When I graduated, I had learnt, from sitting for lectures, only as much in my five years of college as what smart kindergarten toddlers learn in one year. My “research” work was not dissimilar [1] to the kind of analysis that I imagine idle secretaries indulge in when they make estimations about the love lives of their bosses based on the amount of paper they are shredding. That’s exactly how I felt preparing the damned PMP.
Anyhow, the project’s gone well. The themeing is done. I will put up some pics of the interface on this blog as soon as I get back to work on Monday.

[1] either in spirit or complexity
P.S: She literally forced me into writing this.


27 Responses to “PMP”

  1. Pink Imp said

    Actually, here in school, courses like concurrent systems and software engineering require all the projects developed to be properly documented. So, I think documentation is an essential part of SDLC.

    I found using Rational Rose very putting-into-perspective-what-I-wanted-to-code 😛

  2. Avadhut said

    I have found that tools such as Rational Rose (or for that matter any UML & use-case tools) reflect consistent design terminologies rather than emergent design behaviors. In designing without any documentation tools, I found that I am not restricted to the constructs provided by the documentation methodology itself. I do understand that documentation is an important part of the SDLC, but then I am not exactly a staunch support of the SDLC methodology of software developement either. I’d prefer the rainfall model wherein the focus is more on agile experimentation and faster discovery of failures—a slightly more organic approach.

  3. Pink Imp said

    You mean the “waterfall model,” don’t you? 😉

    But if software were meant to be emergent, you wouldn’t be able to test against failure, if your build were to get modified repeatedly. More so, as deadlines approach, the dreaded penetrate and patch would tend to be employed, which of course, is the worst one can do to fix flaws.

    Also, from the customer’s perspective, what they want is a s/w that behaves in a way that meets their requirement. I think as long as you’re developing something non commercial, no money involved, and you yourself would enjoy the fruits (or maybe not) of your labor, going unstructuredly experimental is perfectly fine 🙂

  4. seemajoshi said

    I agree with pink Imp. First of all i don’t y u say that water fall model gives scope for agile experimentation? Use any type of model for SDLC, be it Waterfall, Spiral or VnV (Most commonly used ones in the industry), None of then give full-fledged scope for agile development. RAD n Agile technologies are carried out under the dialects of these SDLC formats itself. Documentation is of atmost for the importance when it comes to the following:
    1) confirming if we are doing the right thing.
    2) Confirming whether we are doing it the right way (right way=most effective way in terms of cost, correctness).
    No matter how intolerant u are of the days u spent in college, I am not going to shy away from agreeing to the fact that it has sure taught me the importance of documentation.

    As long as u are developing for u r pleasure and there are no other stakeholders other than u, no one is going to ask u to do it a certain way. As soon as someone other than u is involved(Directly or indirectly) in the profits or losses u have to follow a certain way to assure profit and decrease the probability of failure.

  5. Charlotte said

    OH YOU MISERABLE GEEKS, the two of you. But I love you both, hee hee.

    Ava: “as important … as earbuds are to a fish” is such cool but wierded out analogy, if you know what I mean.

    Steen…I have nothing intelligent to contribute to you geekiod conversation, so here’s saying good morning instead :).

  6. Avadhut said

    Whoa! This is going to be one long comment. Ok, here goes nothing:

    My rant above was not directed at the documentation process itself. I understand that documentation is of the utmost importance especially when you are working in teams comprising more than one member, which is a given. How else do geographically seperated team members communicate otherwise? My rant was directed at the constructs provided by the documentation methodologies. To understand this, we would have to go back to the basics of linguisitics itself. Our thought processes are highly influenced by the languages we speak fluently in. Coz’ we think in these languages too. Similarly the language you code in and the documentation tool you use to model your software would influence the final solution heavily. Thus, I am saying that the existing documentation technologies fall significantly short of an ideal mind mapping solution.

    With regard to points (1) and (2) from Seema’s comment and Steen’s comment, I think its a question of your approach toward software development. Agreed that SDLC tools determine the right, most cost-effective solution. But they do this by ensuring conformance to previous standards—basically a mass acceptance mentality. Is there no place then for out-of-the-box innovation and risk-taking? If we are still using the point-and-click medium of human-computer interaction 20 years from now, I will partly blame it on SDLC and our mentality to conform to standards. When MS Word came out first, no customer expected it to behave in any particular way. MS took a big leap by taking the interface out of the cryptic black screen and putting a mouse in the hands of the user. Now, a menu falling down on clicking “File” is looked upon as the expected behavior whereas 20 years ago it would have elicited a “Whoa!”. Are you trying to tell me that just because it has never been explored before, another ideal (maybe better) way of human-computer interaction does not exist? that just coz’ it does not fit into the SDLC ways of developing software, a better documentation process does not exist? I refuse to believe this. Even when profits and losses are involved, an extremely innovative tool will make the most tightest of wallets sit up and pay attention!
    I dont’ think I have convinced you two enough, but I would like to sum up by saying that if we as software developers treat our jobs as jobs and make sure that we comply with all the items on the clients checklists, when do we get “creative” then? when do we tap into the vast of pool of ideas we would have otherwise implemented if we were doing this for ourselves and not as a job? Money is extremely important in this equation, but the minute we assign it more wieght than creativity and risk-taking, we get stuck in a rut!
    G. B. Shaw put it best:

    The reasonable man adapts himself to the world. The unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself.

    Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.

    P.S: It is the rainfall and not waterfall model—an offshoot of the chaos theory very commonly used in information architecture these days.

  7. Charlotte said


  8. Charlotte said

    But I agree with you, Avs. “Even when profits and losses are involved, an extremely innovative tool will make the most tightest of wallets sit up and pay attention!” Schumpeterian economics to the dot.

  9. Pink Imp said

    :twiddles thumbs and looks around:

    i stick to my guns, says Pink Imp and nods in approval of Seema’s comments too.

    To Charl: Hello child! hugs to you! dont u bother about not figuring this out. its not as important as it seems, really 😉

  10. Ergo said

    Avs, insofar as your approach reflects a committment to a *creative* endeavour and not merely a *reactionary* posture (anti-system, anti-status quo), I agree with you. A creative mind cares less whether his creations are consistent with what exists or is radically opposed to it; he creates it organically as it comes.

    I remember having a conversation with you touching upon these ideas… of how the language we use necessarily places us in a certain structure of thought. However, while acknowledging the limiting aspects of language, you must also acknowledge certain limiting aspects of our *cognition*! For example, there’s a difference between out-of-the-box thinking–which expands our minds–and irrational thinking–which only serves to short-circuit our thinking process. And we must be careful not to cross over from the former into the latter.

  11. Avadhut said

    J, I could not agree more!

    Following processes for the sake of conformance without really challenging your ability to look beyond them is an excercise in mediocricity. Similarly, being different and rebelling (in terms of process conformance) for the the sake of rebelling is outright stupidity.

  12. seemajoshi said

    So y dont u show all u r creativity in setting up something new,like a new process which yields more money..”Wohi safedi wohi zhaag kaam dam main mile to koi yeh kyu le..woh na le”… 😀
    People who have defined certain models or those who tailor those models for better profits are crerative people.. But one has to agree to the fact that all members in a team will not have the leisure of being creative. Eventually there is only one leader and the rest follow. Thats how work is churned out…
    so what u call so called mechanical processes are actually an output of creative brains like u but sadly u dont agree to them…

  13. Pink Imp said

    ok to make things clear my comments are strictly wrt IT and software.

    s/w development as we know started out ad hoc and then refined itself over a period of time and after considerable observations and results.

    i agree with seema:

    these valid procedures did stem out of creative people’s creativity. Despite denial, Structured methods at times do tend to yield very favorable results. (read CMM levels and ISO) also, compare the productivity of current company (they have no definite structure, surely)to a one higher in the model. creativity and rebeling can only get one thus far. following a structured methodology (unless of course, u are developing something VERY VERY radical that involves teleportation) has always lived up to its name 🙂

    when u have billions pumped into a project, and calling following protocol mediocre, is a sure shot way to ask for a kick up ur ***.

  14. Avadhut said

    The fact that you propose we think of these issues independently and not in conjunction with human nature in general appalls me.

    I cannot think of technology as a disjoint concept, something that we “do”—a job. No. For me it’s a natural extension of my expression and creativity.

    Steen, “creativity and rebelling can only get one thus far”!??
    What the hell was Jeff Bezos thinking then when he decided that people should start shopping online?

    A small example, consider I follow a structured process that ensures I produce the solution on time in the most cost-effective way. I do this for 20 years. In this scenario, if I produce Solution A in year 1 and Solution B in year 2, the chances of these two solutions being radically different from each other are extremely slim if not negligible. Coz’ for 20 years I have been “producing” solutions like an automaton with machine-like efficiency. I have probably learned everything about the process inside out, but if that process was to be taken away from me, I would be handicapped. I might have grown a billion dollars richer over the course of those 20 years, but have I produced anything different from what my predecessors have? No. Have I introduced a radically new solution that could set standards for the next few years until the next big thing comes along? No. The key here is to question things and not always give into structure.

    And don’t even get me started on ISO and CMM. I would rather set my own standards than conform to something set by someone else. This is probably because I refuse to let someone dictate how I work, not coz’ I have a problem with authority but because I know I can perform better without the overhead of an extra scaffolding.

    Internet has changed so much in the past few years. When in 1991 Tim Berners Lee set up the first ever Web server on his NextCube, he never meant for the Internet to be a social networking tool that it is today. He never meant for it to move into the Web 2.0 phase with semantic websites, Web-app API, and Identity 2.0. All this happened due to ad hoc development carried out by several people and consortiums. They found a way to turn a browser into a full-blown platform for doing anything anybody could ever imagine, and all this in a span of more-or-less 20 years. The most creative things on the net—CSS, XHTML, etc— were ushered in by groups who envisioned these concepts by simple “discussing” things in plain human-understandable language, not any complex documentation model but text.

    Seema, people who defined existing documentation models might have been immensely creative, but just coz’ it worked brilliantly for them does not imply that it would do wonders for my creative process. I do not question the brilliance of these documentation models or of the people who came up with them. I simply remark at the logic in making everyone comply with these—blanketed indictment. Just because someone derives pleasure from being creative does not make it a leisurely activity. It cannot be likened to a “walk in the park,” now that would be a leisurely activity. It takes much more to challenge norms than to comply with them.

    Following every protocol is a submission to the fact that you are incapable of coming up with something better yourself.

  15. Ergo said

    *gasp*! Good gawd, Avs! I cannot agree with every line of your comment any more than I already do!

    Who said there ain’t no Roarks in real life?

  16. Ergo said

    I am particularly in admiration of your refusal to dichotomize one’s work, creativity, and job from one’s essential nature of being.

  17. Charlotte said

    I know was feigning sleep all this while, but I’ve been watching attentively from the sidelines.

    Avs, your entire last comment should be reworked and streamlined into a post titled “In defense of creativity” or “The retrogression of the unimaginative collective.” Your argument is incredibly put, and I agree with every point as well. Thinking out of the box cannot to be disputed, and considering being creative as a leisurely activity is a gross misconception. Through civilizations, the process of development (whether intentional or by accident) has inherently been a creative one. Challenging norms has always been an act of courage and has effectively yielded groundbreaking results time and again (as you illustrated with the Berners-Lee example and others, although this would be true even beyond the IT domain).

    While thinking out of box is considered a virtue, it is predominantly viewed as risky as Steena points out. This should essentially explain the lack of individualism and hence the predominance of mediocrity that is manifested.

    Ultimately it’s about who takes the responsibility for engaging in such a courageous act. And as the past trends show, its usually the brilliant minds who have.

    Yeah, Jerry. This one’s a Roark alright.

  18. seemajoshi said

    Reading all the above comments i have come to an conclusion that following a set process, which has earned profits to huge levels first is the biggest virtue of one’s personality. To define new things u first have to be sure that u can discard the old ones. Just because u dont like someone sitting on u r head,u cannot go about doing what u like to do and call it creativity. Creativity for me not only means doing different things. It also includes doing things differently. This is what i have been wanting to say all the time. Just mending a existing process or structure to gain more profits is more appropriate according to me than redefining it all over again and shelling whole lot of money all over again. I dont feel mediocre by any way in reusing the same strucutre again n again to make more money. By not agreeing to this fact u not only sound egoistic but u are also saying that all those ppl who are reselling their products are fools. That is how u make profits boy.. Get over..Sooner the better.

    yes thinking out of the box is essential to find good/quick solutions but that does not mean the current methods are wrong.
    Whosever defines the process..once it is accepted it has to be followed..thats it..otherwise there is no point in defining one,right. U can affront define a different process for each project depending on the nature of the project . Once it is defined,accepted and published it has to be followed thats it Han u can say that u dont agree with them. With u r last comment i am more than amazed by the fact that u r working in an organization.. 😀
    Offcourse these are my views and u r most certainly entitled to have urs 😀

  19. Ergo said

    I think it will help smooth out the wrinkles in this discussion by pointing out something essential: When Avs makes the case for pushing the limits of your thinking, or approaching a task from a unique perspective, or simply forging a new direction, he ain’t stating it as a normative claim for ALL to follow.
    By the fact of human nature, there are MANY who need and will positively benefit from structured process. It improves efficiency if someone else has taken the risk of creativity and innovation and all one has to do is follow that process repeatedly.

    Innovation is not a normative imperative on everyone. By fact, only a few are creative enough to pull off something spectacular while not drowing in the process.

    This is known at the pyramid of intelligence–defined by Ayn Rand. It takes the men of ability and creative intelligence to first venture in a new direction. Once the path is forged, millions can follow suit and make much profit and benefit from the efficiency. Incidentally, this is also the foundation of the free market, and when this pyramid of intelligence is inverted, you get a socialist system.

    When a man invents a process of production for the first time, he is an innovator, and justifiably so. However, everyone after him need not–indeed, should not–assume a moral obligation to be creative beyond one’s own talents or abilities. That would–as Steena and Seema have been pointing out–hamper the process. But they can certainly benefit much from the process created and established by that one creator.

    So, perhaps, Avs is defending his right to be creative simply because he realizes a more efficient method of production. Surely is it egoistic. It shouldn’t be any other way. Pride in one’s superior intelligence and creativity is a great virtue and should be admired. He is not making the case that everyone else should also do the same. He is only asking that *he be let free to do things his way*.

    Roark demanded–and earned–the same. 🙂

  20. Avadhut said

    be let free to do things his way

  21. Charlotte said

    Hahahaha, that was perfectly said Ergo, a pleasure to read! After reading Seema’s comment I typed a paragraph trying to say pretty much the same things as you did but since it was lacking in the tact (which you effortlessly manage to bring forth), I didn’t publish it lest it appear offensive! All I did was lanpop it to Avadhut for his benefit.

    Well I’m glad you cleared it up, esp. the point about being egoistic 🙂

    PS: He’s finally begun The Fountainhead to see what the fuss is about.

  22. seemajoshi said

    Charlotte i hardly know u but i guess u take things too personally 😀 This has nothing to do with neone in person. I simply wrote what i felt after having a little work exp. Its just another point of view. U like it, u take it, else leave it.. whats the fuss???

  23. Sinus said

    Should i jump on the bandwagon and make this a little more difficult?

  24. Raulette said

    Sinus, you couldnt have timed your grand entry any better than this 😀
    I saw this post yesterday and was wondering what the fuss was all about! 22 comments and almost each one longer than the post itself…

    Now, I didnt get ANY of the jargon, but I did understand what the fuss was all about…

    Well, having seen the new intranet, I can only be on one side…oops! did i just rekindle the fire…stoke stoke 😉

  25. satyajit said

    Seema, I wish to clarify a few points with you.

    “To define new things u first have to be sure that u can discard the old ones. Just because u dont like someone sitting on u r head,u cannot go about doing what u like to do and call it creativity.”

    So you imply that when millions are pumped into research projects, the researchers pretty much have a ready blueprint for success, and thus, no research once undertaken can fail. Further, the question of someone sitting on someone’s head misses the point. Some people are more individualistic than others. You cannot hold it as a flaw solely because you’re not comfortable with it.

    “yes thinking out of the box is essential to find good/quick solutions but that does not mean the current methods are wrong.”

    I think that you’ve have assumed that Avadhut categorically said that the current methods were wrong. On what basis do you decide the efficacy of processes as binary entities, i.e, simply as wrong or right? There’s no absolute with regard to software development processes; there are standards, and it doesn’t therefore logically mean that no process can be better than the existing ones.

    “By not agreeing to this fact u not only sound egoistic but u are also saying that all those ppl who are reselling their products are fools.”

    What you call a fact in this case also involves individual perception. What is important is the foundation on which your perception is based. If a person thinks he can design a better process than the existing one, he does not say that the ones who designed the latter are fools. He may just imply that he can come up with a better solution. You can’t deny him the right to say that, surely. Where’s the question of calling someone a fool? Do you think that much of whatever has been said here necessarily indicates that you’re a fool because you’re more open to the idea of reselling tried and tested products.

    I think that you’ve taken only services companies into account. There are product-based companies too that not only resell old hats but also invest, and hence are liable to lose, a lot of money into designing newer ones.

    “Just mending a existing process or structure to gain more profits is more appropriate according to me than redefining it all over again and shelling whole lot of money all over again.”

    What about the returns from the newly designed process? What if it revolutionizes the entire structure and sets a higher, i.e., a more profitable, benchmark for newer processes to emulate? Won’t, can’t, it bring in more money than the merely tweaking exercise?

    You’ve to base your argument on stronger ground to prove whatever it is that you wished to, here. And disclaimers like “Offcourse these are my views and u r most certainly entitled to have urs” just make me wonder if you were speaking for somebody else. Of course, those are your, and only your, opinions. I demand a little more substance, rather than plain political correctness (even though it wasn’t meant for me), from you.

  26. […] PS: A discussion on the same theme spawned a large number of really, really, huge comments some time back. Remember? […]

  27. Arianne said

    Hi, its nice piece of writing about media print, we all be aware of media is
    a impressive source of information.

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