▲ Conventional software management practices are mostly sound in theory, but practice is still tied to archaic technology and techniques. ¡
▲ Conventional software economics provides a benchmark of performance for conventional software management principles.
In the mid-1990s, at least three important analyses of the state of the software engineering industry were performed. The results were presented in Patterns of Software Systems Failure and Success [Jones, 1996], in "Chaos" [Standish Group, 1995], and in Report of the Defense Science Board Task Force on Acquiring Defense Software Commercially [Defense Science Board, 1994]. Appendix A highlights some of the relevant results.
All three analyses reached the same general conclusion: The success rate for software projects is very low. Although the analyses had some differing perspectives, their primary messages were complementary and consistent. They can be summarized as follows:
1. Software development is still highly unpredictable. Only about 10% of software projects are delivered successfully within initial budget and schedule estimates.
2. Management discipline is more of a discriminator in success or failure than are technology advances.
3. The level of software scrap and rework is indicative of an immature process.
The best thing about software is its flexibility: It can be programmed to do almost anything. The worst thing about software is also its flexibility: The "almost anything" characteristic has made it difficult to plan, monitor, and control software development. This unpredictability is the basis of what has been referred to for the past 30 years as the
The three analyses provide a good introduction to the magnitude of the software problem and the current norms for conventional software management performance. There is much room for improvement.
The remainder of this chapter summarizes the software management process framework that most conventional software projects have used. While this framework, known as the waterfall model, has many derivatives, it is the baseline process for most of the software project experience amassed to date. And while it is dangerous to generalize, it is important to lay out a good context for the process improvement techniques discussed throughout this book.
Was this article helpful?
What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.