Performance by Design: The Role of Design in Software Product Development
This article could just as well be titled “What I have learned about software product design in 8 1/2 years of working with some of the best industrial designers and film makers in the world.” The underlying premise is that filmmakers and industrial designers approach the design of new products in a fundamentally different way than the software industry. More often than not, software products are green-lighted, and then work begins. With films and product design, green-lighting comes at the end of a front-end process, not the beginning.
Stated another way, software projects tend to go directly to development/engineering, leapfrogging over anything that an industrial designer, for example, would recognize as a design process. Our argument is that our industry’s bypassing such an explicit and formal front-end design (or in film terms, pre-production) process lies at the root of many of our problems of quality, cost over-runs, and late delivery.
Furthermore, I would argue that the absence of this front-end process lies at the root of the software industry’s abysmal track record in bringing out successful new (as opposed to n+1) products. To put my argument into perspective, I will briefly summarize the process followed in film and product design, and discuss how it can apply to software product design.