Valuing "Working Software over Comprehensive Documentation"
By Tom Spitz on Feb 23, 2011
I also subscribe to ideas put forth in a number of subsequent works including Balancing Agility and Discipline: A Guide for the Perplexed (Boehm/Turner, Addison-Wesley) and Agile Project Management: Creating Innovative Products (Highsmith, Addison-Wesley). Both of these books talk about finding the right balance between "agility and discipline" or between a "predictive and adaptive" project approach.
So there still seems to be a place for us in creating the Oracle Unified Method (OUM) to become the "single method framework that supports the successful implementation of every Oracle product." After all, the real idea is to apply just enough ceremony and produce just enough documentation to suit the needs of the particular project that supports an enterprise in moving toward its desired future state.
The thing I've been struggling with - and the thing I'd like to hear from you about right now - is the prevalence of an ongoing obsession with "documents."
OUM provides a comprehensive set of guidance for an iterative and incremental approach to engineering and implementing software systems. Our intent is first to support the information technology system implementation and, as necessary, support the creation of documentation. OUM, therefore, includes a supporting set of document templates. Our guidance is to employ those templates, sparingly, as needed; not create piles of documentation that you're not gonna (sic) need. In other words, don't serve the method, make the method serve you.
Yet, there seems to be a "gimme" mentality in some circles that if you give me a sample document - or better yet - a repository of samples - then I will be able to do anything cheaply and quickly. The notion is certainly appealing AND reuse can save time. Plus, documents are a lowest common denominator way of packaging reusable stuff. However, without sustained investment and management I've seen "reuse repositories" turn quickly into garbage heaps. So, I remain a skeptic.
I agree that providing document examples that promote consistency is helpful. However, there may be too much emphasis on the documents themselves and not enough on creating a system that meets the evolving needs of the business.
How can we shift the emphasis toward working software and away from our dependency on documents - especially on large, complex implementation projects - while still supporting the need for documentation? I'd like to hear your thoughts.