Having spent nearly 25 years in the software development industry, with the majority of that time as an independent consultant and project manager, I have experienced first-hand how elusive and critical it is to consistently deliver software changes on time and on budget. Be one of the few that can, and the IT outsourcing world is your oyster. Your reputation to get the job done commands top dollar. People are calling you first for their next big project because they’ve heard about you or had a positive experience from your services in the past. All the world loves a winner.
But your reputation is only as good as your last project delivery. That’s the “what have you done for me lately?” pressure and reality of the fast-paced IT world. Fall short of your estimated targets, push back target delivery dates and suddenly “you’re just like all the rest”. Reseach studies have shown that 68 to 85% of large software enhancement projects fail in one way or another. Either by missing original completion dates, going over budget, not delivered as originally specified, or being abandoned altogether. If you have ever been part of a development team that has suffered from such a fate, you are far from being alone! Unfortunately, given these statistics, this track record can be more the norm then the exception in our industry.
Even if you do what you feel is right for the client and you manage to deliver on time by logging a ton of overtime while not passing on any extra costs in order to meet the on budget goals, what kind of toll and strain does that put on the balance in your life? How many times or consecutive projects can you work through like that before you start to experience burn-out and neither party benefits in the long run? Yes, it will be necessary to suck it up buttercup from time to time … that’s just what winners do! Face the challenge, do the right thing, get the job done as promised. After all, your reputation depends on it. The real challenge and question is, how can we do our best to avoid getting into this situation in the first place?
From my experience, you must be vigilant about managing the following top five factors that can lead to trouble and ultimately increase the risk of project failures:
- Inaccurate estimates going in will result in unrealistic or unachievable targets.
- Unclear/loose definition of deliverables.
- Inadequate or incorrect resources allocated to the project.
- Mismanagement of project scope and/or resources. Scope creep will kill you.
- Insufficient “technical uncertainty” buffer built in to the project time-lines.
What would it take to set you apart as someone who is in the top 15% that consistently delivers on time, on budget and as specified Find and start using source code analysis tools that will increase your value, secure more contracts, save you and your client money and increase both your productivity and free time. Don’t we all aspire to that as IT professionals? Find it EZ
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