It occurred to me yesterday that I have never seen a software project managed well. (Almost) Every project I’ve worked on has had the fortune of excellent talent that has delivered and made someone money, but the developers always get burned out doing it.

Is this just the nature of the industry? Is it not actually as profitable as we once thought? Sure, it seems that there is never enough time or money in any business, but I just have this feeling that it doesn’t have to feel as catastrophic as I’ve seen it.

My very humble hunch is that we as developers (and people) have not properly asked ourselves this one question:

“What do I have that will allow me to do this better than it has been done in the past.”

I think that too often our answer is: “We have good skills, and we are ambitious,” and I think that that answer is not good enough. I think that software is still new and not enough of us have an experiential understanding of how software (and developer resources!) mature through development, testing, and maintenance phases. If we do have that understanding, I think we are not good enough communicators to apply it to our boss’ and clients’ expectations.

A lot of us has read the Mythical Man Month, but has anyone actually been on a successful project? Has anyone been happy enough with the life cycle of a product to be willing to go through it again in the same way? If so, I’d really love to hear about it.