Reply to post: The cost of writing good SW is not incremental

What bugs me the most? World+dog just accepts crap software resilience

T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

The cost of writing good SW is not incremental

Every time I hear a statement like "we can't afford to do it right" - and I've heard it uncountable times during my career, from all sorts of bigwigs in all sorts of companies - I know it's a lie. This kind of statement invariably masks the real state of affairs: "we cannot do it right". Or, at least, "we cannot do it right within any feasible timeframe and/or budgetary limit."

It is never "that extra ounce of expense or effort" as someone put it here in this forum. If you can do it right it will not take more time to do it. It will probably take you less time because, frankly, it will be hard for you to force yourself to think about what you need to do in wrong ways. You will also develop rather quickly and efficiently, unlike someone who is not "skilled in the art".

What really happens in the "we can't afford" cases is that the dev team simply do not think right in the first place. This leads to bad design that a) causes bugs (usually in design) and b) makes those bugs very expensive to find and correct.

In such a situation it is never a case of "give us an extra month and everything will indeed be of the highest quality". That will never happen. It is not a case of the developers being intellectually incapable of learning how to do things right. But they can't learn it on a week-long SW engineering course and there is no silver bullet like a new shiny IDE. Quite a few of them may "get it" after a couple of years of experience in some other organization and with good mentoring, but that's infeasible. And these guys are here and now - firing them and hiring really good people (who will be expensive) will also not help incrementally - those good people will a) not know how the current system works in the first place, b) will want to fix the current bad design that will not be an incremental effort. The fix will be a significant investment in parallel to maintaining the current line of products - and then switching the existing customers over will also be a pain. This is not impossible, and I've seen cases of such re-design, but such cases are few and far between and happen only in organizations that are both rich enough and forward-looking enough.

It does not help that the beancounters don't have a "savings" column next to "revenue" and "expenses" in their spreadsheets.

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