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Private Sector vs. Government: How Do Their Projects Compare?

By Adrian Redden | Digital Content Specialist

INSIGHTS // Articles

28 Jul 2016


INSIGHTS // Articles


By Adrian Redden

28 Jul 2016

As the 10th annual Planit Testing Index nears release in 2016, we decided to look back once more at interesting software testing developments discovered through our research. Referring to our 2015 Index statistics, this article provides an insight into software testing trends between the private and government sectors in Australia and New Zealand.

Icon of buildings in the background, with circular charts split into three sections in the foreground

Strategies Under Pressure

Project types and project outcomes were very similar between private and government sectors. However, when projects were facing the prospect of potential failure and coming under pressure, the following trends were discovered between both:

  • Extending the completion date was the most utilised primary strategy in both sectors, implemented by 46% private and 36% government organisations.
  • Increased funding/resources was higher utilised as a primary strategy by government sector organisations at 35%, compared to 24% uptake in the private sector.

Primary strategies under pressure in the private and government sectors: 2015

Figure 1: Primary strategies under pressure in the private and government sectors: 2015

Quality of Project Requirements Definition

For both private and government organisations, the primary cause of project failure was poor or changing business requirements, reported to be the main culprit in 58% of project failures for both. Still, there seemed to be a gap in perceived quality of those requirements between the sectors:

  • 40% of government respondents believed their requirements definition to be poor, in comparison to only 28% sharing this sentiment in the private sector.
  • Only 21% of government respondents perceived their requirements definition to be of high quality in comparison to 28% in the private sector.

Project requirements definition in the government and private sectors: 2015

Figure 2: Project requirements definition in the government and private sectors: 2015

Test Tools

The sectors also varied in tooling, with different toolsets asserting dominance in government and private sector organisations. Their investment in test tools also varied, with a quarter of government organisations looking to increase their investment in this area, an ambition shared by half of private sector organisations.

Test Management Tools
  • 49% of private sector organisations utilised Atlassian JIRA as a testing tool, whereas government sector respondents have shown significantly lower utilisation at 31%.
  • Significantly higher uptake of HP ALM/QC was identified in the government sector at 65%, in comparison to only 34% in the private sector.
Test Automation Tools
  • 40% of private sector organisations utilised Selenium for test automation, while adoption was lower among government at 25%.
  • 35% of public sector respondents were utilising HP QTP/UFT, in comparison to only 20% in the private sector.
  • 33% of government organisations weren’t using any automation tool whatsoever, and neither were 19% of private businesses.
Performance Testing Tools
  • HP again dominated the public sector, with 42% utilising HP LoadRunner/Performance Center compared with 25% of private organisations.
  • JMeter registered a strong response from private businesses at 29%, compared with 13% of government organisations.
Agile Methods and Success Rate

While Agile is well and truly mainstream in the private sector, it is still growing in adoption for government projects, where 42% of government sector respondents noted they do not use Agile at all, significantly differing from 9% non-Agile implementation in the private sector. The 2015 Index results uncovered further interesting trends regarding adoption and usage between both sectors:

  • 79% of government and 87% private sector respondents confirmed their adoption of Agile has led to more successful outcomes in regards to team collaboration, addressing requirements, responsiveness to change and overall business value realisation (ROI).
  • A further 13% of government and 9% of private sector organisations noted relatively similar results after adopting Agile, whereas only 5% of government and 3% of private sector respondents noted less successful outcomes.
  • Scrum experienced a 78% adoption rate in the private sector, significantly higher in comparison to 58% in the government sector. Kanban was the second most adopted Agile method in both sectors.

Whilst there were a lot of similarities between sectors, including types of projects undertaken, major strategies under pressure and determining when testing starts, there were also areas where significant differences were discovered. Key differences include:

  • 33%-point higher level of Agile adoption in the private sector compared to the more traditional government sector.
  • Large differences in quality of requirements between government and private sectors.
  • Significant disparity regarding tooling both in terms of tools-of-choice and tools investment between the private and government sectors.

To help continue this research and provide broader industry insight, practitioners are invited to participate in our 2016 Planit Index Survey and contribute to a decade of software testing research. By providing your input, expertise and knowledge in our survey, you will receive the Planit Index Report, a ticket to the Index Seminars and $20 donated to a nominated charity of your choice.

You can find more software testing insights in our previous Planit Index Review article covering Interesting Industry Trends from the Last Three Years.

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