My Secret Life as a Spaghetti Coder
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A great development team is an asset that gains you competitive advantage in the marketplace. They churn out features quicker than other teams, with higher quality code that contains fewer defects. You give them project after project and they routinely meet or exceed the deadline.

They're well known for hitting on all cylinders often enough to pull off seemingly miraculous feats of software engineering.

All is right in your world.

It's relieving to know you have a team you can trust, and your team members take pride in knowing that you believe so highly in their skills that you rely on them in the squirreliest of circumstances.

The pitfall shows itself when, instead of enjoying the benefits of such a team, you start to rely on those benefits. You start to assume the "firing on all cylinders" is the norm, and schedule accordingly. You let yourself believe those miraculous deliveries means you can put off important decision making until a week before they need to be delivered.

As long as everything goes good, you're in the clear. And it normally does. But what happens if someone gets sick or has a family emergency to attend to? What happens if your team just can't maintain that sort of intensity indefinitely?

You're going to be late. What's worse is you needn't have been so if you would have remembered to plan for things like that.

It's just a word of caution: don't assume perfection, even if empirical evidence suggests otherwise.

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As a one man team, I often find myself falling into the same pit you describe. It may be human nature, or ego, or just pride that often pins you into a corner at the last minute trying to meet an expectation promised long before 'real world' hurdles come into play. In my previous career (as a painter) I was told to bid 1.5x the proposed labor, and more often than not (even in this industry) I am finding that is more accurate in the end...

Posted by Seth Johnson on Nov 04, 2009 at 08:57 PM UTC - 5 hrs

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