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Communications of the ACM


Velocity in Software Engineering

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Credit: Leung Cho Pan

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Software engineering is necessary in all modern companies, but software engineers are expensive and in very limited supply. So naturally there's a lot of interest in the increase of velocity from existing software-engineering investments. In most cases, software engineering is a team activity, with breakthroughs typically achieved through many small steps by a web of collaborators. Good ideas tend to be abundant, though execution at high velocity is elusive. The good news is that velocity is controllable; companies can invest systematically to increase it.

Velocity compounds. It's also habit-forming; high-velocity teams become habituated to a higher bar. When velocity stalls, high contributors creatively seek ways to reestablish high velocity, but if external forces prolong the stall, soon they will want to join another team that has the potential for high velocity. High velocity is addictive and bar-raising.


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