Reassessing the Influences that Impede the Implementation of Software Process Improvement 2004-01-0281
Software organizations can implement industry best practices to prevent a costly time/budget failure rate in the delivery of software systems. Industry research indicates that the majority of newly-delivered software systems have to be reworked or abandoned, are paid for but not implemented, or are never effectively used. Successful delivery and usage is enjoyed for only 28% of the systems that were designed in 2001 . Not only do these development efforts fall short in the vast majority of cases, but only 30% of re-engineering efforts prove successful .
The underlying cause of these failures is the difficulty in securing the improvement program to accompany the changes required for the software development process. To improve the situation, these questions must be answered:
What barriers prevent the success of these critical software process improvement initiatives?
What are the obstacles to the implementation of appropriate models and methods?
How can organizations adapt to ensure that they will be among the few that succeed in their efforts to capitalize on cutting-edge software processes and systems?
Several influences in the software industry impede progress. The following are of particular interest: problem recognition, skill application, the proper selection of a consulting partner, contributions from the consulting partner to the organization, and the approaches utilized.
This paper focuses on these operational success factors. Initially the role of top management, the decision-making process, and the organizational culture is examined to determine their impact on the organization's ability to recognize and address efficiency problems. Further, an assessment of the skills required and applied for software process improvement will highlight any inherent shortcomings in the existing organization. Next, an analysis of the selection process of consulting partners reveals fundamental flaws in many organizations' priorities. A review of the inadequate contributions made by consulting partners identifies pervasive stumbling points in the implementation of the software improvement processes. An overall activity-driven approach is compared to the results-oriented approach as to their respective impacts on delivery and cost.
With an understanding of the issues surrounding the software process improvement and its benefits, and a desire to achieve excellent results, organizations can make successful strides towards improvement to ensure that their current and future projects will be completed on time, within budget, and with significant cost savings. Moving towards higher levels of maturity produces a successful program. On the other hand, if an organization falls prey to its immaturity, then it degrades the project into failure (e.g., the organization runs its software process improvement project using Level 1 methods ). The proper approach and best industry practices determine ideal end results. By using these best practices, failures are severely limited and the rate of successful software improvement programs are greatly enhanced.