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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Drowning in the waterfall

During a recent exchange on a business analyst forum, a poster complained that he was “drowning in the waterfall”. Much of the "drowning in the waterfall" is really drowning in paperwork not the process. The waterfall doesn't in itself call for a mass of documentation; the paperwork is the result of the way the waterfall is applied in many organizations. Much of the paperwork that accompanies a development life cycle is not designed to assist or enhance either communication or the development process. It is there solely for control: for management to be assured that certain activities have been accomplished and they have a document that proves it; as a measuring device to demonstrate that phases or milestones in the process have been achieved; as a verification artifact that someone can use to check up on the progress at points along the way; to provide disinterested parties a glimpse at what is happening with the development; to give the auditors proof that the process is being followed; and so forth. Where possible try to turn permanent, persistent documentation into transitory documentation that you can throw away once the document has served its purpose. Write designs on white boards. Do status reports verbally in stand up meetings of no more than ten minutes. Communicate face to face rather than via documents. It saves time. It saves trees. And it keeps your head above water.

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