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Pitfalls of Modern Software Engineering: an explanation

February 25, 2008 14 Comments

Back in the mid-1990s, I wrote and published Pitfalls of Object-Oriented Development (M&T Books, 1995). The book captured lessons learned from five years of full-time commercial software development using object-oriented technology, as well as cautions and observations gleaned from books and articles on the subject. Shortly after the book went into publication, I started plans to do a second edition, but M&T Books lost interest in the book itself and let it go out of print, which (according to the publishing agreement) meant that the publication rights reverted back to me.

In the twelve years since Pitfalls came out, most of my professional career has been focused on why information technology (IT) projects fail (and succeed). I have conducted reviews of major IT projects within corporations, some with budgets in the hundreds of millions of dollars. In some cases, after presenting my findings, I have then been asked to help get the project back on track.

In 1999, PricewaterhouseCoopers recruited me to join their Dispute Analysis & Investigation group, specifically to act as a consulting and testifying expert in litigation involving information technology, including what we termed “IT systems failure” lawsuits. As part of my work there, I reviewed documents for over 120 such lawsuits covering a 25-year period, then wrote a white paper identifying common patterns in these lawsuits, which I’ve posted at length on this site. I spent two years at PwC, then set up my own firm to continue both with my consulting work and my expert witness services. During these past several years, I have continued to serve as a consulting/testifying expert in lawsuits involving disputed, troubled or failed IT projects, in some cases with budgets over $1 billion.

As a result, I decided a few years back that a second edition of Pitfalls focused solely on object-oriented development would be of less use than a more comprehensive work focused on all aspects of modern software engineering and IT project management. So this book project has now become Pitfalls of Modern Software Engineering (PMSE for short, pronounced “PimSee”). PMSE will follow the format of the original Pitfalls, but will cover a wider range of topics.

As I work on PMSE, I will post individual pitfalls here on this website for discussion and feedback. ..bruce w..

Filed in: Books, Pitfalls, PMSE

About the Author:

Webster is Principal and Founder at at Bruce F. Webster & Associates, as well as an Adjunct Professor for the BYU Computer Science Department. He works with organizations to help them with troubled or failed information technology (IT) projects. He has also worked in several dozen legal cases as a consultant and as a testifying expert, both in the United States and Japan. He can be reached at 303.502.4141 or at

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