Archive for June, 2011


Inventing work? What is causing your software development projects to go over budget?

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Last month I read an article with an interesting statistic, 77% of the people surveyed said that their vendors had invented work for profit. An alarming statistic if buyers have the impression that the people working for them are just creating work out of thin air.   Sounds like a definite governance issue. But then if you think about it, it matches the still ever present statistic that about 75% of IT projects fail, and of course the primary reason why the projects are considered a failure, they went over budget!

So why do we still have projects that go over budget?  I took an informal poll myself on this issue, and the general consensus was not that work was being “invented” but that more work was added in than was originally expected.  Or the ever popular “scope creep”.

So why do we still have such an unrealistic view of the amount of work that needs to get done? In the case of outsourcing a service, it is often because there was not a good understanding of all of the work that in-house staff really had to do in order to provide the service.

But if you are dealing with a software development project for a new system, or replacing and improving an existing system, things can get more complicated.

So what do you do for your next development project?

#1 – Surrender to the fact that changes will occur. Once part of a system or product is able to be looked at and played with, it is easier to see how a function could work better, or how the users of the system could work more efficiently, and suggestions for changes will start rolling in. Accept it.
#2 – Surrender to the fact that compromises will have to be made. Priorities will have to be set as to which changes can be done when, what can be taken out of the current project and moved to a future update, etc. Not everything can be a top priority. Time and budget are always going to be limited. These adjustments will need to be done continually as part of the process of making the best product for the market and for the users.

#3 – Surrender to the fact that a plan for handling changes during development is going to need to be in place. A discussion has to take place between yourself and the vendor. They should have a process that they use for handling changes within the development process that they are using, and that may work for you, but make sure you know how changes will be handled and that you agree with the process.

If you are realistic about the fact that change is inevitable, realize that priorities will have to be set and actually planning for changes, it will go a long way towards eliminating projects that are “out of budget”.

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