The Capability Maturity Model (CMM) and Capability Maturity Model Integrated (CMMI) have been major forces in software development for at least 20 years. Along with those, the Personal Software Process (PSP) and the Team Software Process (TSP) have also been applied to help make software projects more predictable and manageable.

This book is a collection of essays and articles written by Watts Humphrey, the man who was the influence and drive behind these models and processes. I found this book to be an interesting journey through the thinking of Humphrey as he clearly and rationally outlines the "why" behind the "what." Then, he describes "how" to do the work of managing intellectual and creative people which have to work together to deliver a technical product - on time, within budget, with the right features and with quality.

There are many gems in this very readable book (a great airplane book), such as:

  • Defects are Not Bugs
  • The Hardest Time to Make a Plan is When You Need it Most
  • Everyone Loses With Incompetent Planning
  • Every New Idea Starts as a Minority of One
  • Projects Get into Trouble at the Very Beginning

This book is divided into four parts:

  • Managing Your Projects
  • Managing Your Teams
  • Managing Your Boss
  • Managing Yourself

If you are a software project manager, test manager, or test team leader who has to fight the battles involved in getting a project completed within time, budget, scope and quality targets, you will find this book of immense value. Or, you might buy it as a gift for your manager who just doesn't get what's so hard about software development.

Although this book is a collection of essays, it flows very well and reads like it was written as one book. By the way, I felt the Epilogue was excellent - don't skip it.

If there are any doubts about the credibility factor of this book, the advance praise at the front of the book spans four pages and reads like a "who's who" of software development: Steve McConnell, Ed Yourdon, Ron Jeffries, Walker Royce, Capers Jones, Victor Basili, Lawrence Putnam and Bill Curtis, to name a few.

Whether you are fully immersed in the agile project world, or following the CMMI, or just trying to figure out the best way to plan, conduct and manage software projects, this is a book worth reading and taking to heart. In the advance praise, Ron Jeffries ( writes, "I've followed Watts Humphrey's work for as long as I can remember. I recall, in my youth, thinking he was asking too much. Now that I'm suddenly about his age, I realize how many things he has gotten right. This collection from his most important writings should bring these ideas to the attention of a new audience: I urge them to listen better than I did."

Amen, Ron, amen.

Reviewed by Randy Rice

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