Strassman's 25 Deadly Sins In Systems Management

  1. Never introduce a critical new application using totally new technology.
  2. Never install for immediate operational use early shipments of new hardware or software products.
  3. Never commit both to budget and to schedule for an application you have never delivered on budget or on schedule before.
  4. Never estimate employee training costs without a pilot test.
  5. Never assume you have the capacity to restore an operation from backup files without first trying it out during an unscheduled test.
  6. Never base your implementation schedules on vendors' promised delivery dates for software.
  7. Never assume that organisations with conflicting objectives will be able to agree on systems specifications, data definitions or standards.
  8. Never hire as a project manager for a critical project someone who lives in a trailer hitched to a pick-up truck.
  9. Never convert an old application to a new one without being able to retrace your steps in case of failure.
  10. Never use an operational database for testing program changes.
  11. Never give programmers direct access to the computer console that controls a large computer network when there is a program failure.
  12. Never program an application in a programming language known to only 1% of your staff.
  13. Never allow your staff to modify a vendor's operating system.
  14. Never allow the same crew to control a money disbursment application for more than one year.
  15. Never automate fully anything that does not have a manual override capability.
  16. Never design anything that cannot work under degraded conditions in emergency.
  17. Never rely on 100% availability of a single communication link or a single database.
  18. Never operate a computer system or network that has not failed during an independent test.
  19. Never trust a customer's request for system changes if somebody else will pay for it.
  20. Never commit to project schedules that take longer to implement than your customer's average time to reorganise.
  21. Never take over and consolidate data centres that operate with obsolete technology, dissatisfied customers and excessive manual intervention.
  22. Never assume responsibility for running an undocumented system.
  23. Never take over responsibility for running an application involving money unless previous management is audited by an independent party.
  24. Never hire consultants to deliver an application on a time-and-materials basis.
  25. Never start up a system without a prior acceptance test from the paying user.

Strassman claims to have committed all of these sins in his time. He considers the incidence of more than three of these sins in a business proposal to be the equivalent of a hurricane warning!

(Strassman, P., The Business Value of Computers. 1988, New Canaan: The Information Economics Press.)


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Mike Arnautov (23 December 2016)