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