IT projects, like tattoos, are commitments. You wouldn’t accept that kind of answer from a tattoo artist, it’s your body, you have the right to change your mind as long as the ink is not under your skin. Why would that be different for software development ? Why would requirements be written into stone once they were signed ?

One could explain the too common attitude towards change by two main factors:

  • process momentum
  • stability issues

Process momentum is the consequence of everyone trying to protect their butt from backfires in case of project failure. As long as you can blame someone else for failure, you think you are safe, but in companies, the way to design the scapegoat is by signing contracts, SLAs, and other forms of paperwork. Every time you make a change in the requirement, someone can feel the contract terms have changed, and therefore, his paper walls are not protecting him anymore. Therefore, either you don’t make changes, either you spend a lot of valuable time to sign agreements.

Stability issues are the quicksand in which developers who don’t practice testing at a sufficient level are thrown when the requirements drift too much from the initial requests. That’s the typical “We will soon release a patch to fix the bugs introduced by previous patch. Sorry for the inconvenience.”. When you designed things like this and they end up looking like this.

The Agile manifesto states “Customer collaboration over contract negotiation”. Customer don’t change the requirements because they are evil, or helpless, but because they found a new way to improve their work. That’s what we do, helping them get their work done, and if possible, done better than their competitors. Don’t think of change as a mutation, but as an evolution.

If our quadruped, monkey-smelling ancestors decided that “walking on our rear limbs was not part of the original design”, just imagine where we would be now. Evolution is the way every live being manages to keep up with changes in its environment. Not changing (or changing two years too late), means putting your own kind in danger. If you eat beef and the new breed of beefs grows two more legs, you’d better find a way to continue chasing them, either by becoming smarter, either increasing your muscular mass (or number of legs, but that’s just gross).

If you eat money, and the competitor grows a new technology to eat more money than you (and possibly start eating your money), you’d better evolve your own tech right now !

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