Death March


This winter I read book Death March by Edward Yourdon. Death March is about death march projects and how to survive them. There are also chapters describing decisions that you should never make when managing death march project. And there are great tips that help you avoid bad mistakes in death march projects. The book describes also developers life in such projects and gives them some good advises how to stay alive.

Death March gives very good overview of projects dynamic nature that today’s managers tend to ignore and thus shooting bullets to their own legs. Okay, everything that is dynamic is more complex that static stuff. We know this from physics courses. But dynamic things may behave very unexpectedly. One source of death march projects is ignoring project dynamics.

Okay, there are many other factors but I don’t tell you about these because you maybe have no reason to read this book anymore. I suggest this book to project managers, developers and also to chiefs and higher lever managers. If you know a lot about software development then this book may be just interesting  reading for you. But if you don’t then this book may be best lesson you have ever got.

Cite from Amazon: “Historically, all software projects have involved a certain degree of risk and pressure — but many of the projects in today’s chaotic business environment involve such intense pressure that they are referred to colloquially as "death-march" projects — i.e., projects whose schedules are so compressed, and/or whose budgets, or resource (people) assignments are so constrained, that the only "obvious" way to succeed is for the entire team to work 16 hours a day, 7 days a week, with no vacations until the project is finished. While the corporate goal of such projects is to overcome impossible odds and achieve miracles, the personal goal of the project manager and team members often shrinks down to mere survival: keeping one’s job, maintaining some semblance of a relationship with one’s spouse and children, and avoiding a heart attack or ulcer. This new and thoroughly-updated edition of Ed Yourdon’s book takes into account many of the changes that have taken place in the more than six years since the publication of the first edition.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Politics
  3. Negotiations
  4. People in Death March Projects
  5. Death March Processes
  6. The Dynamics of Processes
  7. Critical-Chain Scheduling and the Theory of Constraints
  8. Time Management
  9. Managing and Controlling Progress
  10. Death March Tools and Technology
  11. Simulators and “War Games”
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View Comments (2)

  • Thank you for dropping me a line, Ed :)

    Although things have changed I thing they have not changed so much that we can say Death March book is expired. Regardless of technology and state of economy the projects are still managed like they have been managed this far and people are still making same mistakes as before.

    Global recession is special case I think and I can see people acting different too. "Death March Projects For Hard Times" seems very good idea to me. But please try to publish this book before hard times are over. :)

  • Thanks for the kind words about "Death March." It has been six years since I published the 2nd edition of the book, and things have changed so much -- including good things like Web 2.0 collaboration tools, and bad things like the global recession -- that I'm thinking of updating it again for a new edition, with a title like "Death March Projects For Hard Times".

    Check my blog at http://www.yourdonreport.com from time to time for details...


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