Death March Project

"I define a death march project as one whose “project parameters” exceed the norm by at least 50 percent. This doesn’t correspond to the “military” definition, and it would be a travesty to compare even the worst software project with the Bataan death march during the Second World War, or the “trail of tears” death march imposed upon Native Americans in the late 1700s. Instead, I use the term as a metaphor, to suggest a “forced march” imposed upon relatively innocent victims, the outcome of which is usually a high casualty rate (2)."

"A death march software project means one or more of the following constraints has been imposed (Yourdon 1999):

* The project schedule has been compressed to less than 50 percent of its original estimate.
* The staff originally assigned or required to complete the project has been reduced to less than 50 percent.
* The budget and resources needed have been reduced by 50 percent or more.
* The functionality, features, or other performance or technical requirements are twice what they should be under typical circumstances."

Source: Wikipedia: Death March (Software Development)

Death march (software development)
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This article is about the use of this term in software development. For real death marches, see death march.

In the software development and software engineering industries, a death march is a dysphemism for a project that is destined to fail. Usually it is a result of unrealistic or overly optimistic expectations in scheduling, feature scope, or both, and often includes lack of appropriate documentation, or any sort of relevant training. The knowledge of the doomed nature of the project weighs heavily on the psyche of its participants, as if they are helplessly watching the team as it marches into the sea. Often, the death march will involve desperate attempts to right the course of the project by asking team members to work especially grueling hours, weekends, or by attempting to "throw (enough) bodies at the problem" with varying results, often causing burnout.

Among the most infamous death march projects are the Denver Airport baggage handling system and WARSIM, a U.S. Army wargame.[1][2][3] The latter project was originally called WARSIM 2000 at its inception in the early 1990s. A decade after its original scheduled delivery date, WARSIM has yet to support a single Army training exercise, but is still being funded, largely to vindicate those who conceived of the system and defended it over the lifetime of its development. The WARSIM schedule slipped many times. Moreover, WARSIM has a clumsy architecture that requires enough servers to fill a small room, while earlier "legacy" wargames run efficiently on a single standard desktop workstation.

The term "death march" in this context was discussed at length in Edward Yourdon's book Death March: The Complete Software Developer's Guide to Surviving 'Mission Impossible' Projects (ISBN 0130146595), which has a second edition simply titled Death March (ISBN 013143635X).
[edit] See also

* Brooks's law
* Bataan Death March an infamous event during WWII
* Lemming

[edit] Notes

1. ^ "WARSIM". U.S. Army.
2. ^ "WarSim Nears U.S. Army Validation". Training & Simulation Journal. September 2007.
3. ^ Tiron, Roxana (November 2003). "Army Charges On With Joint Simulation System". National Defense Magazine.

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Related Links:

What is a Death March Project and Why Do They Happen? * By Edward Yourdon

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