Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Sacred Cows? There are no Sacred Cows!

Often on projects there are areas that individuals or teams will tell you are fine, or are things that you shouldn't look at all for very plausable reasons; these are called Sacred Cows.

It could be their favourite developer tool, their source code management system, a particular back-end or front-end system - whatever the tool, you are told that is out of scope of examination.

However, work on enough projects and you soon realise that it is the Sacred Cows that will slow you down or sink your project - that is typically why they are Sacred Cows, everyone knows that they don't work, or don't work well but they are the favorites of someone more powerful in the organisation or they have been burned by other tools.

Never ignore a Sacred Cow!

Having said that, how do you deal with Sacred Cows? It depends on what the Sacred Cow is but above all know about them, understand them inside and out, their weaknesses and problems. Come up with a set of work-arounds, tools, standards, project management techniques, enact those that you are able to and have the others in your back-pocket so that when the issues hit you can quickly mobilise to work around the Sacred Cow.

Think about the projects you have worked on, think about those that have failed or had significant issues, think of the Sacred Cows you have come across and discuss in the comments below.

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