Tom DeMarco revisits his earliest work on Software Engineering and the importance of metrics, and realises he got it wrong:
Implicit in the quote (and indeed in the book’s title) is that control is an important aspect, maybe the most important, of any software project. But it isn’t. Many projects have proceeded without much control but managed to produce wonderful products such as GoogleEarth or Wikipedia.
What’s immediately apparent is that control is really important for Project A [cost $1m, value $1.1m] but almost not at all important for Project B [cost $1m, value $50m]. This leads us to the odd conclusion that strict control is something that matters a lot on relatively useless projects and much less on useful projects. It suggests that the more you focus on control, the more likely you’re working on a project that’s striving to deliver something of relatively minor value.
Software Engineering: An Idea Whose Time Has Come and Gone?, by Tom DeMarco, Computing Now, 2009. Hat tip to James Roper for the link.