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The Deadline:
A Novel About Project Management

by Tom DeMarco

ISBN: 978-0-932633-39-2  
©1997  320 pages   softcover  
$24.95 (plus shipping)

Subject(s): Software Project Management, Team Management

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This Title Is Now Also Available As an eBook on Amazon Kindle and Other eBook Readers.

Face the Biggest Deadline of Your Project Management Career--Guided by the Legendary Tom DeMarco

Winner of a Software Development Productivity Award

About the Book

From prolific and influential consultant and author Tom DeMarco comes a project management novel that vividly illustrates the principles—and the outright absurdities—that affect the productivity of a software development team.

With his trademark wit set free in the novel format, DeMarco centers the plot around the development of six software products. Mr. Tompkins, a manager downsized from a giant telecommunications company, divides the huge staff of developers at his disposal into eighteen teams—three for each of the software products. The teams are different sizes and use different methods, and they compete against each other and against an impossible deadline.

With these teams—and with the help of numerous "fictionalized" consultants who come to his aid—Tompkins tests the project management principles he has gathered over a lifetime. Each chapter closes with journal entries that form the core of the eye-opening approaches to management illustrated in this entertaining novel.


"Here's a management book which is just plain fun to read. The Deadline is an innovative and entertaining story with insightful business principles for team-based project management at the end of each chapter."

Atlantic Systems Guild

"Since most software managers rise from the ranks of programmers, and consequently don't have a clue about project management, the situation is ripe for teaching by example. That's what Tom DeMarco addresses with The Deadlne. . . .entertaining—and simultaneously instructive. . . . many valuable techniques.

—Warren Keuffel
Software Development

"The Deadline is dead on. It is a must-read, fun-read for anyone who has ever been, or will ever be, involved in a software project. Tom DeMarco has packaged the collective wisdom and hard-fought lessons learned of leading software prophets, gurus, and oracles into this tantalizing, insightful, and flat-out entertaining 'novel.'"

 —Will Tracz
ACM Software Engineering Notes

"Here's a management book which is just plain fun to read. The Deadline is an innovative and entertaining story with insightful business principles for team-based project management at the end of each chapter."

John Sculley

"When people set out to impart the kind of common sense that is all too often missing in the software business, they generally sound preachy and smug. Tom has avoided this pitfall through the artful use of stories. He has also tied in enough conflict and tension to get the reader's interest. All in all, this is a relaxing and informative read."

Watts S. Humphrey

"The book is entertaining and enduring, as developers will recognize most of their development problems. . .

"Not only is it entertaining, but you can even learn some management skills in the process."

Charles Ashbacher
Charles Ashbacher Technologies
posted on Amazon.com

". . . it's a technological tour de force. It covers a wide range of topics, from project estimating to metrics, from conflict resolution to dealing with ambiguous specifications. . . . the bullet points alone are worth the price of the book. . . . The Deadline is almost as funny as a book full of Dilbert cartoons, but it's far less cynical. More important, it contains some profound wisdom, and some practical, positive advice for improving the chances of meeting your next project deadline. I highly recommend it."

Ed Yourdon
American Programmer

"Tom DeMarco once again gleefully peels away the onion layers of management issues with a humanity and insight that translate as easily into corporate general management as they do into the management of of software projects and teams. In The Deadline, he gives us a chuckle of a book, rich with both the absurdities of our daily work lives and with metric devices that can help us manage and perform better. It's the Function Points, stupid!"

Bruce Taylor
Founding Publisher
Imaging World Magazine

"A humorous, fictionalized look at software development . . . offers a balanced approach to project management. The author rightly pinpoints people as the essential foundation of all successful projects."

Quality Digest

"I read this book . . . and was immediately impressed with how DeMarco successfully ties software project management and software quality together in a captivating manner. I could see the relevance to both current software professionals and to those aspiring to work in the field. As a professor, I decided to incorporate it into my software quality management class . . .

"This book review is different from others in that the majority of the review consists of comments from my students. . . . Following are their responses.

"'This book is very valuable. It gives a real-life view of problems that can come up for a large project. . . . DeMarco does a fantastic job of showing the reader how to solve problems. He covers numerous aspects such as team size, conflict resolution, design, emotions, pathological politics, metrics, and so on to teach the reader the most efficient ways to run a project properly. This book taught me a lot and was also fun to read.'

"'The book made me realize a lot of important concepts and made me think a lot, too. I didn't just read it — I would think about how I would react in some of the given situations . . . '

"' . . . This book is an innovative way of approaching project management, and DeMarco turns what could be a painfully dry subject into anything but that.'"

Dr. Patricia McQuaid
Associate Professor of Management Information Systems, California Polytechnic State University
Software Quality Professional

"In many ways, this book is a companion to The Mythical Man-Month. For example, Mr. Tompkins tests the "throw people at a project to meet an accelerated schedule" theory (any guesses as to the outcome?). And like TMMM, The Deadline, while positioned as a technology book, contains lessons for all managers. Both preach the importance of planning. . . .

"Short chapters, quick read, lots of laughter, lessons without the cynicism of Dilbert or UserFriendly, summary points for review. Much to recommend it, for the principles apply to any management, not just that of software development. . . .

"What is new is Demarco's use of humor and storytelling to evangelize the concepts (and rewards) of good management. When can you remember laughing out loud while reading a management book? For that alone, the book is a worthwhile addition to any manager's library."

Kathy E. Gill
ITG Newsletter

"For all of you that have been looking for a novel about software development that really gets to the guts of the business this is it. The Deadline by Tom DeMarco is a rare breed of fiction that contains not only a story but charts and diagrams. . . .

"We are left with a sense that opportunity only exists in the moment and that the real reason why we work is only to learn because learning is what fills every experience we have with meaning."

—Michael Guajardo
Agile Alliance

". . . I enjoyed The Deadline and I learned some cool things from it. . . . The Deadline, as a teaching technique, works for me. Like Aesop's fables, it gives me a memory-hook for each of the points about people and projects and management that DeMarco wants to make."

—Sue Petersen
Visual Developer

"This is a totally different way of looking at project management -- one that is neither dry nor boring. And while the story is packaged as an amusing novel -- there is much to be learned. Briefly put: The Deadline is a book in which the author, Tom DeMarco, effortlessly crosses the divide between entertaining and professional content. . . .

"Following each chapter, Tom Demarco uses management fundamentals to summarize the events. Thanks to this, and the easy-to-read, novel platform, various terms are easier to visualize and understand than they would be in books that only deal with the technical aspects of project management."

—inGenics Future News



Table of Contents


"Opportunity Knocking"

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This Book's Flyer

By this Author
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Peopleware, 3rd ed. (Addison-Wesley ISBN:9780321934116)
Software State-of-the-Art
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Also Recommended

Adaptive Software Development: A Collaborative Approach to Managing Complex Systems, by James A. Highsmith III

Five Core Metrics: The Intelligence Behind Successful Software Management, by Lawrence H. Putnam and Ware Myers

Managing Expectations: Working with People Who Want More, Better, Faster, Sooner, NOW!, by Naomi Karten

Practical Project Management: Restoring Quality to DP Projects and Systems, by Meilir Page-Jones

The Psychology of Computer Programming, Silver Anniversary Edition, by Gerald M. Weinberg

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