Rocket Science or Is It ?
The late Dewang Mehta (ex-Chief of NASSCOM, India's Software Association) once remarked.
" We are thankful that Software is still an Art and Not a Science.
The day, it becomes a Science, perhaps, China could overtake India and the rest of the world."
Views are divided (passionately).
Some people feel that software is craftsmanship.
I also do.
However, the days of individual software craftsmanship are long gone.
The real challenge in modern software development is team craftsmanship, not individual craftsmanship.
In my humble opinion, the real challenge is ensuring that a brilliant individual's effort can be scaled upwards to teams working together.
Brilliant software individuals who are craftsmen will still be required.
People who can put in 500 % effort to solve 1 % of the problem.
It signifies a true professional's approach to excellence in his/her work.
The Problem in Global Software Development is the Ability To Leverage and Scale's one's efforts.
How can we scale upwards the efforts of multiple brilliant individuals (OK, some brilliant, some not so brilliant) ?
I also disagree with viewpoints that software cannot be treated as an assembly line manufacturing process.
Maybe not today.
But as we go ahead, that may be a reality.
So that the final product (or Service) remains conceptually pure to it's purpose.
And yet gets delivered faster at lower and lower cost points.
The Faster, Better, Cheaper Game is a never-ending spiral.
Also, contemporary software development and delivery schedules and business needs have to ensure that the quality of the output of the software process resembles that of an assembly line manufacturing process.
Why this discussion on Software being a Rocket Science ?
In the whole business (both Computing, and Communication Elements) of Information Technology, perhaps the biggest challenge in terms of Walmartisation of the US 557 Billion $ IT Services game lies in Software.
Andy Grove of Intel (He seems to be my most frequently quoted Guru) in his book "High Output Management" wrote about The Breakfast Factory.
He cites his own experience of making a Breakfast consisting of a three-minute soft-boiled egg, buttered toast and coffee.
He postulates that every production process can be broken down into three stages as follows :
Can we use the above three stages in preparing a delicious Software or IT Services Sandwich for our customers along the Walmart way as we discussed last week ?
A company who certainly seems to think so is Dell.
Perhaps another company who is also aspiring to be a formidable force ahead is SalesForce.com. (External Link)
The road to the Moon was not easy. Neither will be the one to Mars. But the path will be travelled.
Hopefully, by a few of us. We live in interesting times.
An Earlier Article Version published as a Weblog of the same title on an External Website - 9th Feb 04