J.D. Meier's Blog

Software Engineering, Project Management, and Effectiveness

Writing Books on Time and on Budget

Writing Books on Time and on Budget

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AppARch2.0_small

One of the questions I get asked is how did we execute our patterns & practices Application Architecture Guide 2.0 project, on time and on budget?  It was a six month project, during which we ....

2 Keys to Success
We used two keys to success:

  • Fix time, Flex scope
  • Agile Guidance Engineering

Fix Time, Flex Scope
One of the most successful patterns I've used for years now is to fix time, and flex scope.  The idea is to deliver incremental value and find a way to flow value along the way rather than wait for one big bang at the end.  This allows you to deliver the most timely and relevant value with a healthy worklife balance.  It helps reduce project risk along the way.  More importantly, it helps get your stakeholders on board, by showing them results versus just trust you to the end.  Scope is the best to flex because there's the least amount of precision or accuracy up front, and it enables you to respond to the market or stakeholder concerns more effectively.

Agile Guidance Engineering
This is the secret sauce.  I call it Agile Guidance Engineering:

AgileGuidanceEngineering2

In a nutshell, Agile Guidance Engineering is about building guidance using nuggets of specific types (how tos, guidelines, checklists ... etc.) and composing them into books.  The books themselves are actually an information model.  The information model is designed to both structure the content as well as structure the problem domain.  We vet the nuggets as we go for feedback, and we prioritize, tune, and improve them along the way.

I've used Agile Guidance Engineering successfully to build the following Microsoft patterns & practices Blue Books:

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