How to avoid scope creep, and other software design lessons learned the hard way

From a data-science perspective.

Dror Berel
Feb 15 · 9 min read

Lesson #1: Begin at the end! Define what your scope is. Do you need to extend it?

Make sure you understand what is the highest expected resolution! Brainstorm what would be the craziest outcomes of your project, and then agree on reasonable expectations within your timeframe and budget.

Lesson #2: Do not reinvent the wheel! There are other experts that know how to do it better than you!

In a role where you are expected to be multidisciplinary, and new tools/methods pop daily that are accessible for everyone to use, it may be a slippery fall into a very deep rabbit hole to explore any new approach. And guess what, nobody want you to waste their time/money on that.

Lesson #3: Found a gap? Be creative, but keep it simple!

But what if something in the analytical pipeline is still not in place? A missing link, nowhere to be found, that would have better fit to the specific need you have, bridging the gap?

Lesson #4: Do not be afraid to refactor!

Tired of patching and debugging poorly cohesive and poorly-designed code that someone else, maybe even your boss, has written long time ago, before better tools became available? You ask yourself, GRRRRR, this is such an ugly workaround, why not just simply use that new approach that was designed specifically for this task? (see lesson #2).

Lesson #5: go to lesson #1.

Case studies:

Here are two case studies from my own experience working with multi genomic data. (Could easily expand to other types of data, but perhaps that is a topic for a future post).

One last piece of advice: Get an expert’s opinion, at least until you become one yourself.

‘If only I had known that before. That could have saved me so much time and effort…’

Final words

When you figure out what type of tool/solution you are passionate about, make it happen! Don’t fool yourself with excuses why it is not a good time for your new tool to be created. Just do it!

Consultant: currently accepting new projects!

Useful reference:

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Dror Berel

Written by

BioPassenger, Computational Biology for the people

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