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State of Indiana Makes Using Waterfall SDLC’s a Criminal Offense

April 1st, 2008 · 12 Comments

”Waterfall software development lifecycles have terrorized technology projects in this state for too long,” Governor Mitch Daniels said at a simple signing ceremony held at a meeting of the Central Indiana chapter of the Project Management Institute (PMI). “This bill will end the tyranny of big upfront planning, big upfront design, and litigation style change management.”

The bill, which goes into effect immediately, will make it a criminal offense to use software development lifecycles that divide software projects into serially executed phases distinguished by a particular type of work activity. Violators will be stripped of their project management certifications and could face up to six weeks in jail for their first offense.

“Software projects should be structured in a way that allows them to build value quickly by incrementally rolling out valuable software that works,” said Tate Stuntz of Nimble Consulting and erstwhile contributor to TechDarkSide.com. “This is in stark contrast to projects where all the requirements are delivered up front, then locked down by change management processes that resemble litigation processes.”

Not everyone is pleased with this change. Dave Christiansen, author of Technology Dark Side, a Corporate IT Survival Guide, inquired how this bill would impact Governor Daniels efforts to bring new jobs to his state, prompting a terse response from the Governor. “Bringing new jobs to the state is important, but it’s not appropriate to create jobs by implementing bloated, top heavy project management approaches. Project managers and organizations that can’t adapt won’t survive – in fact, the worst of them will end up in jail.”

Governor Daniels didn’t provide any details about how the law will be enforced at the signing event. Shortly after the event, we were fortunate enough to get some details from a government insider who was willing to speak anonymously about the enforcement process.

“Basically, the whole enforcement process is going to rely on the savvy and judgment of Dog the Bounty Hunter,” she told us. “Dog‘s going to be randomly dropping in on software projects and apprehending project managers, tech leads, and business sponsors who value comprehensive documentation over working software. He’s attending training in San Francisco right now to learn the key ways of identifying a waterfall lifecycle.”

Another government official, who also spoke anonymously, gave a stern warning about trying to hide behind clever lifecycle names that attempt to disguise the true nature of the software development process. “Dog can tell the difference between waterfall and other methodologies, no matter what you call it. He can smell legalistic change management processes a mile away. Plus, there’s an anonymous hotline your colleagues can use to rat you out if you don’t stop making processes more important than people.”

It’s clear that this new law will have widespread, sweeping impact on the lives of project managers in Indiana. “I’m thinking about leaving the state,” one project manager we spoke to said. “I just don’t feel comfortable without a nice complicated Gantt chart showing me the way. I guess I’ll find work in Ohio and hope this thing blows over.”

Other project managers were more resistant to the new law. “We’re going underground,” a group of tough looking PM’s whispered after we offered to buy them Starbucks Coffee. “The government can’t make us give up our Microsoft Project licenses – we’ll just keep two plans. A nice vague, feature-based plan for the witch hunters, and a second secret plan that lays out our detailed phase based plan for the team to use.”

When we asked how the State’s Waterfall SDLC Alert Hotline would impact their plans to secretly continue serial development, the leader of the group spoke angrily. “There are ways of dealing with traitors. Once one or two of ’em try it, and they see what happens, everyone else will just learn to keep their mouths shut.”

There are still many questions about how this new law will work. How will organizations be held responsible if they force PM’s to use waterfall? Will PM’s who refuse to abandon the approach be eligible for public assistance if they can’t find work? Where does RUP (Rational Unified Process) fit in? Is it waterfall or not?


Government officials were reluctant to provide further details. “Once Dog the Bounty Hunter gets here and PM’s start to get busted, then you’ll see how it’s going to work,” one of our sources said. “See, we’re not doing big upfront planning with this law either. The State of Indiana is willing to eat it’s own dog food.”

If you would like to report the illegal use of a waterfall methodology, please call the Waterfall SDLC Alert Hotline at 1-900-41FOOLS.

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Tags: Agile

12 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Amit // Apr 1, 2008 at 2:07 pm

    Is this an April Fool joke?

  • 2 Amit // Apr 1, 2008 at 2:09 pm

    Is this an April Fool’s joke?

  • 3 David Christiansen // Apr 1, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    Umm… no. It’s totally real… Just like Google’s Virgle Pioneer program announced today that is taking volunteers to start a Google/Virgin colony on Mars.

    Yes, it’s a joke.

  • 4 Tate Stuntz // Apr 2, 2008 at 6:48 pm

    This might be your best post ever.

  • 5 David Christiansen // Apr 2, 2008 at 10:27 pm

    Thanks Tate! I appreciate your contribution to this little piece of satire…

  • 6 Ron Higdon // Apr 3, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    If you get tired of being a PM you definitely could pursue a career with “The Onion”

  • 7 David Christiansen // Apr 7, 2008 at 8:59 pm

    IF I get tired of being a PM. Now that’s funny!

  • 8 Gulli // Apr 26, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    Hey, if this was real, I WOULD be moving to Indiana!

  • 9 Robert Berlin // Apr 27, 2008 at 8:40 pm

    Hey – I worked in Indiana for years. It would not surprise me at all if it were real!!

  • 10 PM Hut // Sep 25, 2008 at 1:17 am

    I thought it was for real when I started reading this article. Banning waterfall? That would be the beginning of a new era.

  • 11 Jonathan Babcock » Blog Archive » Weekly Digest - 8-17 // Oct 9, 2008 at 12:27 am

    […] on the legal theme, have you heard that the State of Indiana has made use of a waterfall methodology a criminal offense? “Waterfall software development lifecycles have terrorized technology projects in this state […]

  • 12 Weekly Digest – 8-17 : Practical Analyst // Dec 23, 2014 at 11:29 am

    […] While on the legal theme, have you heard that the State of Indiana has made use of a waterfall methodology a criminal offense? […]

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