Monday, March 14, 2011

Agile development methods avert costly failures

Part of a wider IT cost transparency drive would typically involve an analysis of the money spent on software licensing costs, but it should also pay close attention to how much individual government departments pay for bespoke application development, either to their own in-house programmers or external software houses.

The litany of high-profile failed software development projects – think NHS National Programme for IT as one example – suggests a large amount of money in both public and private sector organizations is often wasted on software that is delivered too late, over budget or not fit for purpose by the time it arrives in users’ hands.
Statistics compiled by the Standish Group in its annual Chaos summary suggest that in 2009, nearly one in four (24 per cent) IT projects within public and private sector organizations across the globe were considered failures, either having been canceled before they were completed or delivered but never used.

Gartner figures from 2008 also suggest a 20 per cent failure rate on average, with 25 per cent of those applications falling down on functionality issues, 15 per cent because of cost variations, 20 per cent due to cancellation and 18 per cent because they were delivered too late to be of any use.

“This is not getting any better despite all the money being thrown at the problem,” says Peter DuPre, chief solutions architect at application life cycle management and testing firm Micro Focus. “We would hope that software project failures turn around – we don’t have all the answers, but we do have ideas.”

One of those ideas is for more public sector organizations to switch away from traditional software development management structures – such as waterfall or cascade – towards an agile software development methodology now used in 70 per cent of Micro Focus’ projects, both internally and for its clients.

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