Step-by-Step is the core of our software implementation methodology.
Please note that our preferred characterization is software implementation" rather than software development. The phrasing is significant.
At the beginning of a software development project, nobody really knows what the end result will look like. This statement may seem reckless - unqualified pronouncements usually are. Even near universals such as "Don't eat the yellow snow" implicitly allow for exceptional circumstances such as airplane crashes in the Andes. But we will brook no haggling on this point. We permit no wiggle room. We entertain no offers of debate. This is our belief - and the basis for all that follows.
Dynamics of Step-by-Step
Step-by-Step acknowledges specific ignorance with respect to the details of the ultimate outcome, but we expect informed, experienced participation by all parties involved in the project to drive the creation of useful, reliable software. Step-by-Step can only be experienced and exploited in a mature, professional collaboration between software implementers** and their customers.
The methodology is a negotiated series of implementation steps that are defined by identifying the next task, creating an implementation and installing it for use. The negotiation is between the developers and the client to agree on a useful capability that can be implemented in a short period of time - usually one to three weeks.
The challenge for each iteration is to identify a task that advances the overall application, delivers usable, worthwhile functionality, and is achievable in the short time.
**This is the last time that we are going to lean on the distinction between software implementers and software developers. We are not given to cant; and we think we have made our point sufficiently elsewhere.
Do 'It' Again
The process of iteration serves multiple purposes. First, each step puts functioning software into the hands of the client, who can derive actual benefit from the working software immediately and through the remainder of the development-implementation process.
Second, each deliverable teaches both the client and the developers something about the application, about the client's ability to identify and characterize and prioritize needs, and about the developer's ability to understand the client's specification, to estimate the cost in development time and elapsed time, and to deliver working code.
And because nobody knows exactly what the destination looks like (see above), each iteration informs everyone's judgment in determining the scope and timing of succeeding tasks. All parties improve upon their initial abilities to participate in meaningful characterization of the task and estimation of the costs to implement the that task.
Check out the sidebar descriptions
of our successful client profiles back on the Professional Services page. We acknowledge that there are many methods and processes, styles and resources - in myriad combinations - that can yield satisfying results. Step-by-Step, exercised in conjunction with clients who participate fully in the process, is ours.
We employed this process successfully - really successfully, meaning 100% satisfaction - for almost 20 years. The last 15 years included implementation of over 30 projects for Exxon.
We have not been able to locate the source of the following expression (paraphrased): When you employ programmers as developers, all you get is development.
As we recall, this observation was offered in the sense of Leonard Smalls' boast in Raising Arizona: "You want to find an outlaw, hire an outlaw. You want to find a Dunkin' Donuts, call a cop."
Step-by-Step does not focus on the process of software development. Instead it directs the efforts of software developers and their clients to the process of serial implementation of software application elements.
It all seemed very exotic to us at the time. Our first business trip to Europe was for a Hewlett-Packard HP3000 User Group meeting in Montreux, Switzerland.
A bit of humor, a lesson in serendipity, and a touch of menace. It's a fun story, and we'll put out a post on it sometime in the next few months.