Failure *Is* an Option

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Learning from Failure: Or How IAs Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Bombs

Learning from Failure: Or How IAs Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Bombs

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  • 1. Learning from Failure
    • or… Failure is an Option
    • @ IA Summit 2007
  • 2. What is Failure?
    • The condition or fact of not achieving the desired end or ends.
    • The condition or fact of being insufficient or falling short: a crop failure.
    • Nonperformance of what is requested or expected; omission: failure to report a change of address.
    • A decline in strength or effectiveness.
    • The act or fact of becoming bankrupt or insolvent.
  • 3. Usually…
    • “Success has 100 parents, failure is an orphan”
    • John R Ashton
    • (See also similar quotations from JFK, et al.)
  • 4.  
  • 5. The Case of the Deadly
    • Scope Creep
  • 6. The Project
    • A large software company named after a nearby celestial body
    • A consortium site for developing a proprietary language named after coffee
    • A requirement to automate excruciatingly detailed workflows
    • An opportunity to add community and collaborative features
  • 7. The Assets
    • A 55-page requirements document
    • - 13 unique roles
    • - 90 detailed requirements
    • - Numerous flowcharts
    • The “constitution” of the community
    • The existing site
  • 8. The Discovery
    • Interview multiple stakeholders
      • - Community Participants
      • - Expert Group Representatives
      • - Specification Leads
      • - Executive Committee Representatives
      • - PMO Staff
    • Review of requirements document
    • Analyze analogous, related, and competing sites
    • Present findings and recommendations
  • 9. Results of Discovery
    • Scores of new requirements were “discovered”
    • Examples:
      • Logins should be secure
      • Don’t break old URLs/bookmarks
      • Would like to be able to “impersonate” a user
      • Long wish list of reports
      • Blog, message board, wikis and other community features (later abandoned)
  • 10. Sitemap The Sitemap
  • 11. The Wireframes
  • 12. The Functional Spec
  • 13. The Use Cases
  • 14. In Other Words…
    • Documentation HELL
  • 15. Long Story Short
    • The functional spec was never signed off
    • The prototype was never finished
    • The IA documents were finalized but too late to save the project
    • The cost of the project more than doubled
    • The agency still lost money on the deal
    • The client lost confidence and took the project back in-house
  • 16. Also
    • The site has, nearly a year later, still not re-launched.
  • 17. What I Learned
    • Application sites can’t be built with static site methods
    • Documentation is a double-edged sword
    • Scope creep must be managed forthrightly
  • 18. thank you Christian Crumlish Yahoo! Pattern Detective Director IT/Web Infrastructure, IA Institute