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What Happens When You Break All the Rules?

May 2014 Presentation
Harald Wesenberg (Statoil ASA), Jorn Olmheim (Statoil), Einar Landre (Statoil ASA)

Presentation at SATURN 2014. Presenters address some questions facing software architects and use project experience to illustrate learnings.


Software Engineering Institute

This presentation was created for a conference series or symposium and does not necessarily reflect the positions and views of the Software Engineering Institute.


In 2013 Statoil launched a public ocean observatory service outside Lofoten and Vesteralen, Norway. The key parts of the portal were developed in four months on a budget of 200K USD, but continuous development is under way to fulfill oceanographic and environmental research needs. All large organizations have rules to follow. In combination with other factors such as organizational structure, sourcing model, software architectures, and development approach, rules can increase project cost and slow development. The authors’ experience has provided a keen sense of what makes software projects successful and possible pitfalls to watch out for. Even in large organizations with comprehensive rule books, it is possible to run successful software-development projects without huge investments in time and money, but often a few rules have to be stretched. We address some questions facing software architects and use project experience to illustrate the learnings: 

  • What are the most important software-development rules in today’s dynamic business environment? 
  • How can you use the software architecture and development team structure to compensate for organizational and procedural failings? 
  • Faced with a thick rule book, how do you know which rules to break, and how do you handle breaking them?
  • How can you use models such as the Dreyfus model of skills acquisition to evaluate the team maturity and determine how strictly to follow the rules?