Book Review of the Month

Software by Numbers
Mark Denne, Jane Cleland-Huang
Finally, a book that applies a solid financial methodology to iterative software development. The basis of this book is the Incremental Funding Methodology. IFM is not a new software development methodology. It is a funding methodology that can be applied to your chosen development methodology to maximize ROI through the release of minimum marketable features.

This book starts with the assumption that you are using a methodology such as RUP or XP and builds a case for incremental funding. It moves on to teach you the tools to maximize the ROI on your project. Methods for moving up the self-funding date are also in this book. The book ends with 3 application chapters. The first is on how to apply IFM to RUP. The 2nd is on applying IFM to an agile software methodology. The final chapter is a case study on using IFM. The glossary is excellent and there is a quick reference guide to IFM as well.

Before reading this book, I was never completely convince that an agile methodology was the way to go. This is the book I was looking for to complement agile development.

(Matthew Phillips - Bartender, January 2004)

"Software by Numbers" is yet another book I would like any manager involved in my working life to read and re-read.

The authors describe an Incremental Funding Method (IFM) for scheduling incremental development of software which optimizes the Return on Investment (ROI) by having the requirements engineered into Minimum Marketable Features (MMF) with concrete, monetary value.

The book is very light (less than 200 pages) but packed with interesting material. I read most of the book during a flight from Finland to Germany and finished the book on my way home. Despite the minimal page count, the authors manage to explain why their method is desperately needed and how it fits to existing software processes such as RUP and XP. They also describe the business case for incremental architecture and different strategies for sequencing MMFs and Architectural Elements (AE) for maximum ROI over the project's lifetime.

The only reason for not giving a full 10 for this book is that I would've needed some more baby-steps support for the actual calculations (sequence-adjusted net present values etc.). I'm sure others will be hoping to see some more real world examples of feature deconstruction and sequencing as well. On the other hand, I really appreciate the fact that the authors made the effort of putting up a spreadsheet online for supporting their method.

Overall, an excellent book. Highly recommended.

(Lasse Koskela - Bartender, June 2004)
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Other books reviewed in June :

Professional Portal Development with Open Source Tools by W. Clay Richardson , Donald Avondolio, Joe Vitale, Peter Len, Kevin T. Smith
Eclipse 3 Live by Bill Dudney