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Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams

A book by Tom DeMarco & Timothy Lister

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The truth behind the failure of software projects

  • Dec 29, 1999
Programming languages come and go with an occasional paradigm shift thrown in. However, the thought processes and the mental gyrations needed to complete large software projects remain largely unchanged in the decade since the first edition of this book was published. Unfortunately, management skills also remained stagnant as well. In this book, the authors lay out the ugly truth as to why much of software development fails. It is not a lack of technical or technological competence on the part of developers, but a strong tendency by management to treat programmers as mere code generators possessing accelerator buttons. Simply prod, bribe, threaten, cajole or berate them and the button is pressed causing them to work overtime with a smile, with no associated loss of productivity. The authors lay out examples of all of these techniques.
Quality developers must possess a great deal of originality, creativity and pride in what they do. Destroy that using the techniques listed in this book and the consequences are obvious. Even brown, scorched earth looks green by comparison and the quality people depart. A large percentage, perhaps even the majority, of software development projects fail. Many studies support the position that it is largely a failure of middle management. Millions of dollars could be saved if all who fall into that category would read this book and have the courage to act on what they read. Unfortunately, that will probably not happen. After all, the authors did come out with a second edition, didn't they?

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More Peopleware: Productive Project... reviews
review by . March 11, 2009
This is the book whose title has become synonymous with managing teams in software companies. Though this 2nd edition came out in 1999, most of the content is identical to that of the original 1987 edition. 22 years later, that's a problem. So much of our common practices and conventional wisdom have changed (in part due to the impact of this book) that much of the advice in the book is obsolete. True, gems like the inverse relationship between noise and code quality will likely stay relevant for …
review by . August 13, 2008
Much of this book is spent explaining what should be obvious to the best managers, but which corporate culture and priorities tend to work against. In general, the book looks more at typical mistakes than at recipes for success. At the same time, the advice is solid and they often provide data to back up their assertions.    If I was a manager at a typical and mediocre corporation, I would not recommend this book too much-- it is hell fighting against corporate culture. However …
About the reviewer
Charles Ashbacher ()
Ranked #76
Charlie Ashbacher is a compulsive reader and writer about many subjects. His prime areas of expertise are in mathematics and computers where he has taught every course in the mathematics and computer … more
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About this book


Demarco and Lister demonstrate that the major issues of software development are human, not technical. Their answers aren't easy--just incredibly successful. New second edition features eight all-new chapters. Softcover. Previous edition: c1987. DLC: Management.
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ISBN-10: 0932633439
ISBN-13: 978-0932633439
Author: Tom DeMarco, Timothy Lister
Genre: Business & Investing, Computers & Internet
Publisher: Dorset House Publishing Company, Incorporated
Date Published: February 1999
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