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The Art of Project Management by Scott Berkun

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5.1. The gap from requirements to solutions

For reasons I can't fully explain, many people have difficulty planning creative work. In most of the books I've read about software development and project management, there's a shortage of coverage on how to get from a list of requirements for what should be implemented, to a good design. Schedules often have a date for when requirements are supposed to be finished, and another date for when specifications are supposed to be finished, but little instruction is provided for what goes on between those two dates (see Figure 5-1).

Figure 5-1. Design is often seen as a mysterious process between early planning and completed specifications.

Now this might be fine if the work involved is very incremental, straightforward, and simple. The ambiguity of that time is mitigated by the simplicity of the creative work that needs to be done. But otherwise, a lack of definition for how to go about designing something sets up the team to fail.(1) If the problems are complex, the team will need time to evaluate different approaches and learn about the best ones before they fully commit to building them.

Like a traveler at a fork in the road, knowing where you want to go ("home, please") doesn't tell you anything about the best way to get there ("all three of the roads, at least from where I stand, look the same"). Smart travelers look for ways to minimize ...

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