Since the days when computers first came into common use, there must have been tens of thousands of accounts receivable programs written. There are probably a dozen or more accounts receivable projects underway as you read these words. And somewhere today, one of them is failing. Imagine that! A project requiring no real technical innovation is going down the tubes. Accounts receivable is a wheel that's been reinvented so often that many veteran developers could stumble through such projects with their eyes closed. Yet these efforts sometimes still manage to fail.
The documentary obsession of Methodologies seems to have resulted from paranoid defensive thinking along these lines: 'The last project generated a ton of paper and it was still a disaster, so this project will have to generate two tons.' The technological sectors of our economy have now been through a decade-long flirtation with the idea that more and more and more paperwork will solve its problems. Perhaps it's time to introduce this contrary and heretical notion: Voluminous documentation is part of the problem, not part of the solution.
During the past year, I did some consulting for a project that was proceeding so smoothly that the project manager knew she would deliver the product on schedule. She was summoned in front of the management committee and asked for a progress report. She said she could guarantee that her product would be ready by the deadline of March 1, exactly on time according to the original estimate. The upper managers chewed over that piece of unexpected good news and then called her in again the next day. Since she was on time for March 1, they explained, the deadline had been moved up to January 15.