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Overruns and overspend plague software projects

By Jane Garcia

INSIGHTS // Media Coverage

22 Nov 2007

#ProjectManagement|#Services|#Software

INSIGHTS // Media Coverage

#ProjectManagement|#Services|#Software

By Jane Garcia

22 Nov 2007

More than half of software development projects initiated by Australian organisations run over time and over budget, according to a recent survey of 131 large companies and government organisations.

The inaugural Planit Testing Index found a further six per cent of projects were cancelled outright.

Planit managing director Chris Carter says projects not completed within a set timeframe are causing “major budget blowouts”, with an average cost of $199,033 per week.

He says the survey findings and his experience – not only at Planit but as president of the Australian/New Zealand Testing Board – suggest there are several factors that contribute to a successful software development project. Seventy-eight per cent of respondents with projects completed to time and on budget
indicated they had ‘good’ or ‘very good’ levels of management buy-in.

“It’s absolutely critical to clearly define your requirements at the early stages of the system development
life cycle. If your requirements are poorly defined then the likelihood of project failure is extremely high,”
Mr Carter says.

“You have to set realistic expectations. There’s significant time to market pressures on organisations so what we’re seeing is that projects tend to be deadline driven rather than quality driven and the area where all our respondents were most self-critical was their inability to effectively estimate from a project time frame perspective. So that, coupled with unrealistic expectations, means you’re sort of behind the eight ball before you even start.”

About 26 per cent of respondents viewed testing software as a “necessary evil”. Mr Carter says organisations
need to move away from the idea that testing is a luxury to indulge in if there is extra time at the end of a project and consider it as a significant part of the development process.

“A lot of organisations don’t start their testing until they’re in the actual build and development phase, two-thirds of the respondents said they didn’t start testing until the build and development phase and only 14 per cent start at the requirement phase. But in hindsight, 100 per cent of them seem to wish they’d started at the requirement stage,” he said.

“I’m aware of similar studies that have taken place in the UK and whilst all of the empirical evidence points to the fact that you need to start testing as early as possible in the life cycle, people still think they can get away without doing it.”

Nearly three-quarters of companies surveyed said they “would increase their use of structured testing processes in the next 12 months”.

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