Stop Runaway Software Development Projects - InformationWeek
Government // Enterprise Architecture
11:21 AM
Michael Sampson
Michael Sampson
Connect Directly
Ransomware: Latest Developments & How to Defend Against Them
Nov 01, 2017
Ransomware is one of the fastest growing types of malware, and new breeds that escalate quickly ar ...Read More>>

Stop Runaway Software Development Projects

IBM's Rational Team Concert and community offer a thoughtful approach to collaborative, distributed software development.

Software development projects have a long history of running over schedule and budget. Recent research by Evans Data estimates that 49% of such projects run over schedule; an IBM survey of CIOs puts the percentage at 62%.

Companies have tried various mitigation strategies over the years--adding more developers to each project, inflating the timeline, and including a substantial buffer to handle cost overruns. While softening the target delivery date and estimated cost are prudent for any project, doing that only masks the underlying problem.

Given the recurrence of these negative research findings for the past couple of decades, something more fundamental needs to be done. Without an understanding of the root causes of runaway software development projects, and a well-defined strategy to deal with those causes, companies will make little real progress.

Research by IBM suggests that two of the root causes are poor communications among developers, especially when they're geographically distributed, and an unclear understanding of the business domain they're contributing toward. Through its Rational suite of products and the community, IBM is trying to help developers resolve those issues.

Rational Team Concert provides a toolkit for collaborative software development. It creates a shared space for documenting possible features to address particular business scenarios, and for clarifying which developers are working on which capabilities.

All developers work off the plan in Rational Team Concert instead of a mish-mash of Excel spreadsheets and Word documents that reinforce conflicting positions. The complementary community offers training resources to convey both the mindset of a Rational developer and how to use the tools effectively. It provides a discussion area where newcomers can ask questions of seasoned practitioners as well as the Rational product team.

In a recent test of distributed, collaborative software development, students from three universities developed an educational application for use by young school children in Africa on mobile phones. Coordinating their work using Rational Team Concert and, they delivered the application in nine weeks.

What's the software development record at your organization? Do your developers have a reputation for collaborating and overcoming the challenges of distance, or are they mired in an outdated paradigm that hasn't kept pace with the times?

Michael Sampson is a collaboration strategist and author. You can reach him at or +64 3 317 9484 (New Zealand).

Attend Enterprise 2.0 Santa Clara, Nov. 14-17, 2011, and learn how to drive business value with collaboration, with an emphasis on how real customers are using social software to enable more productive workforces and to be more responsive and engaged with customers and business partners. Register today and save 30% off conference passes, or get a free expo pass with priority code CPHCES02. Find out more and register.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
To learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
2017 State of IT Report
In today's technology-driven world, "innovation" has become a basic expectation. IT leaders are tasked with making technical magic, improving customer experience, and boosting the bottom line -- yet often without any increase to the IT budget. How are organizations striking the balance between new initiatives and cost control? Download our report to learn about the biggest challenges and how savvy IT executives are overcoming them.
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll