Waltzing with Bears: Managing Risk on Software Projects


"Pearls of wisdom . . ."
       – Ed Yourdon

Download three sample chapters in pdf format.

Order Waltzing with Bears from Amazon.

If There's No Risk On Your Next Project, Don't Do It

Greater risk brings greater reward, especially in software development. A company that runs away from risk will soon find itself lagging behind its more adventurous competition. By ignoring the threat of negative outcomes—in the name of positive thinking or a can-do attitude—software managers drive their organizations into the ground.

In Waltzing with Bears, Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister—the best-selling authors of Peopleware—show readers how to identify and embrace worthwhile risks. Developers are then set free to push the limits.

The authors present the benefits of risk management, including the following:
  • risk management makes aggressive risk-taking possible
  • it protects management from getting blindsided
  • it provides minimum-cost downside protection
  • it isolates the failure of a subproject.
Readers are armed with strategies for confronting the most common risks that software projects face: • schedule flaws • requirements inflation • turnover • specification breakdown • and under-performance.

Waltzing with Bears will help you mitigate the risks—before they turn into project-killing problems. Risks are out there—and they should be there—but there is a way to manage them.

Insight from the Book:

"Running away from risk is a no-win proposition. Sometimes you come across a project that looks positively risk-free. In the past, you may have looked at such an endeavor as a 'slam dunk' and thanked your lucky stars to be given an easy project for a change. We've had the same reaction. What dummies we were. Those projects weren't worth doing at all."

Here's what the reviewers had to say:

"DeMarco and Lister do a good, lively, commonsense job of presenting their subject. If committing to do risk management means committing to read something about it, then this book would be an excellent starting place."
—Robert L. Glass
The Software Practitioner

"Reading Tom Demarco and Tim Lister is a pleasure. It is so clear that these two authors set out to teach something they believe to be valuable, and all of their effort is directed toward making that valuable thesis accessible to the reader. . . . Their explanations are always clear. Their examples are invariably both helpful and entertaining.
     "What they have to say is always important. Waltzing with Bears is no exception . . . their arguments will force you to think about critical aspects of management that you may not have previously considered.
     ". . . It's a terrific book."
—Justin Kodner
posted on Amazon.com

"The authors, consultants in risk and management, show how to identify and embrace worthwhile risks in software development and offer strategies for common risks that software projects face, such as schedule flaws, requirements inflation, and specification breakdown."
—Book News, Inc.

"The collaborative effort of Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister, Waltzing with Bears: Managing Risk On Software Projects is a hard-hitting guide to braving greater risks for greater rewards in the exciting, challenging, competitive, and rapidly advancing field of software development. From advice on the pros and cons of risk management techniques; to successful value quantification; to tests for risk management and knowing when to go back to basics, Waltzing with Bears is a very savvy guide especially recommended for experienced entrepreneurs who know their specialized markets and want a better feel for when and what would be an acceptable risk in pursuit of marketplace success."
The Midwest Book Review (June 2003)

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