So if we admit that software is really about human intelligence, not tools, then we know that human factors matter the most.
Tom Demarco and Lister, in their famous (infamous?) book Peopleware, were the first to make popular the idea that it was people that mattered the most.
But I can't shake the sneaking suspicion that they missed something. You see, I've taken top notch programmers and had them succeed on one project and failure miserably on another.
I remember one client that, whenever he called, I'd cringe. I knew – knew – that no matter who I assigned to the project, it was already a failure from the moment he called. But when his counterpart at the same company called, I knew – knew -- the project was going to succeed no matter what.
Somewhere along the line the thought occurred to me: could it be that the customer was the primary success or failure factor on my projects?