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Death March

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  759 ratings  ·  40 reviews
Describes the reasons why companies spawn Death Marches and provides you with guidance to identify and survive death march projects. This work covers the project lifecycle, addressing every key issue participants face: politics, people, process, project management, and tools.
Paperback, Second Edition, 230 pages
Published November 16th 2003 by Prentice Hall (first published April 2nd 1997)
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Average rating 3.84  · 
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 ·  759 ratings  ·  40 reviews

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Feb 28, 2012 rated it liked it
I read this one specifically because of a project I was on at the time. And I left it out on my desk for a month or so afterwards so that my manager had to see it every time he stopped by to ask dumb questions.

It spoke to me at the time. It confirmed much of what I knew was wrong with the project. But, it didn't have the magic bullet I was looking for. That probably wasn't fair to expect, but golly it would have been nice.
Jul 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author stated that a lot of software engineering projects end up in failure and that this won't change much in the future. It's good to know why projects fail and how to lower the risk of failure. However, it's good to know that there are no silver bullets.

Typically, to improve the chances of success, it's not crucial to care about tools or particular technology. Often even financial bonuses to employees will not help (with the exception of avoiding takeovers from competition). What is more
Alex Railean
This review is probably going to be a lot like the one for the previous book - "Practical guide to defect prevention", so please have a look at that one.

Having been exposed to other literature in the past, this book did not teach me a lot of new things.

p.s. I found multiple spelling errors, even though this is the second edition.
I read this the year I lived a death march project. Essentially, that's a project where you have too little resources in terms of time or personnel. Ironically, it was the most fun project of my career. We went down, but we went down together and in good spirits. ...more
Alex Ott
Oct 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sw-development
re-reading this classics - very actual for my current projects...

main thing to do - abstract from technical details, and concentrate on the organizational stuff - it wasn't changed in 20 years since initial release of the book
Choesang Tenzin
Aug 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
Every programmer should have read this once before getting stuck in a death march project. It is one of those skills that you better learn from a book or a mentor & not from experience. It might save you & may be even the project.
Wanderson Ferreira
Mar 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read_2020
I have been working in startup environments since 2015 and the last 5 years I engaged in several categories of death march projects without knowing this term. This book is very acurate and what is most interesting it's dated around 1996 or so. ...more
Kevin Connery
Aug 24, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I was expecting a lot more; this is a well-reputed classic, but it didn't really cover much that isn't elsewhere in the literature. ...more
Oct 16, 2009 added it
Can't rate it as I read this book very long time ago. But I remember it been mildly entertainig and mostly unpractical. There is too much cultural difference. ...more
Aug 02, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Tedious and repetitive, no useful info.
Dec 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
When I told my friends & coworkers that I’m reading a book about software engineering management called “Death March” they instantly knew what the book was about.

In this book Yourdon discusses through anecdotes, musings, and conversations with his industry peers aspects of a death march that help the readers make sense of the challenges they too know about. Yourdon offers explanations of why death marches occur, who are the agents that encourage & partake in them, what are the signs & symptoms
Max Wolffe
Apr 24, 2019 rated it it was ok
I do not recommend this book unless you’re simply reading it to read a classic.

The Good:
- This is the first book Ive read which acknowledges that projects fail. A star for that alone.

The Bad:
- I have never read a more cynical, depressing book about software engineering. A repeated suggestion is for the individual contributor or project manager to resign from the project and “management” are painted as Dilbert-esque sociopaths. The tone of the book is fairly evident from the title and it was a
Nov 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: computer-science
Yourdon, Computer Hall of Famer, observed that that 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s involved software developers being assigned projects with insufficient time, personnel, money, and precedent— new features, or advanced features. The result, a Death March. Suicide, divorce, and mental breakdowns were not unheard of. His prediction was that such a way of project management would continue into the 21st century. His tips on how to survive the industry are helpful, as they come out of his own experience ...more
Jeff Foster
Jun 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book as it resonates strongly with the work I was doing at the time!
Nov 10, 2019 rated it liked it
Can't say i found this book useful. Very generic and all advice is based on simple common sense. Could be shortened by half ...more
Dec 30, 2014 rated it did not like it
I strongly disliked this book. I knew going in, as the title suggested, it would be a depressing topic, but geez, the reader is in for a slew of negative stories and thoughts on how to solve difficult projects. I realize the point is to help the reader cope with how to handle difficult projects where there is no way to really "win". But, after reading inspirational books like "The Mythical Man Month" and "Peopleware" in the past this book seems like one I wish I would have just given up on and s ...more
Nov 06, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have read the Polish edition:

Good book, but I've read the 1999 edition, and felt some of the issues were a bit outdated. Lots of good suggestions and analysis that is still valid.
Rafael Bandeira
Nov 19, 2009 rated it liked it
A good book on software management culture and how it looks on the big picture when corp, business and sponsors are involved. A good overview of many concepts of what would soon become "Agile".
Not really focused on developers, it stands on the POV of the project manager most of the time, having little practical knowledge to be gathered by developers.
Anton Kan
Aug 08, 2014 rated it liked it
I recommend it to all project manager just to read and recognize yourself :) The book doesn't give too revolutionary advice of how to lead such projects to a success (and they hardly exist) but at least helps to understand that you're not alone and gives some ways to identify such projects on an early stage. ...more
Jeff Keehr
Nov 24, 2015 rated it liked it
Rod Biggar at CSI reminded me of this book. So I borrowed it from the Thomson Library. I have decided that I don't care for Yourdon's view of things: he comes off as cynical and nasty. The book is so so. I do not think that CBS is on a true death march, but we are certainly on some variation of one. ...more
Troy Swinehart
Jan 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Sadly it reads like Dilbert....but the guy is serious. One of the most intelligent books for managing real world situations that we all face. Get it! Buy it! Steal it! Do whatever you need to do to get a copy! (might even try Amazon) This is required reading for all of my staff!
James Snook
Apr 06, 2016 rated it liked it
How to recognize when your project has gone wrong. Horribly, horribly wrong. And how to (maybe) turn it around.
This is targeted towards big-company developers and managers; you'll never reach this point at a startup - you'll be bankrupt first.
Jan 24, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: computers
Ever been on a big computer project? It may not be Death March but it sometimes feels like the Lost Battalion.
Aug 04, 2008 rated it it was ok
This could be useful if you were in the middle of a death march. But then, you wouldn't have any time to read it.
Bernie May
Oct 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: business
From the thought-leader of technical productivity, still applicable today. Which makes it a classic.
Hrishikesh Choudhari
Dec 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Your education as an software professional is incomplete if you skip this book.
Frank Thun
Apr 01, 2013 rated it it was ok
Some projects are just like this, in big corporations
May 13, 2013 rated it liked it
An unfortunate survival guide to some projects, over and over again.
Jul 21, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Repetitive and weirdly formatted. Seems like there's good info but could've used a death march project from an editor. ...more
Dec 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Good read on death march projects
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“Most of this book presumes that you will participate in a death march project, though I will specifically suggest that you resign under certain circumstances. But the best time to do so, in most cases, is at the beginning. When told that you have been assigned to such a project (either as a leader or a technical staff member), you should consider saying, "No, thanks! I'll pass on this one." If that's not an acceptable response within your corporate culture, you almost always have the option of saying, "No, thanks! I quit!” 0 likes
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