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Effective Software Project Management by Robert K. Wysocki Ph.D.

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The Complexity/Uncertainty Domain of SDPM

Each quadrant of the software development project landscape has different profiles when it comes to risk, team, communications, customer involvement, specification, change, business value, and documentation. In this section, you examine the changing profile of each domain as you move from quadrant to quadrant.

Complexity and uncertainty are positively correlated with one another. As software development projects become more complex, they become more uncertain. That follows from at least four other relationships, as commented on in the next four sections.

In the Quadrant 1 models you know where you are going, and you know precisely how you are going to get there. It’s all in the requirements, functionality, and features. Your plan reflects all of the work, the schedule, and the resources that will get you there. No complexity here. As soon as you move away from a clearly specified solution and are in Quadrant 2, the world is no longer as kind to you as it was while you were in Quadrant 1. The minute you have uncertainty anywhere in the project complexity goes up. You have to devise a plan to fill in the missing pieces. There will be some added risk—you might not find the missing piece, or when you do, you find that it doesn’t fit in with what you already have built—go back two steps, undo some previous work, and do the required rework. The plan changes. The schedule changes. A lot of the effort spent earlier on developing a detailed plan ...

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