The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Truth About Developing Software Today
This is the first installment of a series on the current landscape of software development. Within the series, Intertech owner, Tom Salonek, talks about the good, the bad and the really ugly of this rapidly changing field including where the challenges, and opportunities for improvement, lie.
The State of Software Development
First, “the bad.”
If you have any involvement in the world of software development today, you know it’s challenging to say the least. Companies need to develop software as cheaply as possible, but many have learned the hard way that the cheapest route can lead to shoddy results (or no results at all!).
Just Google “failed IT projects” and you’ll find plenty of evidence, such as the 2009 IDC report that found 25 percent of IT project fail outright, and that 20-to-25 percent don’t provide ROI, and up to 50 percent required material rework. Add it up, and that’s a whopping 100 percent that either failed, needed rework or didn’t deliver as promised.
It gets worse.
CIO magazine has reported that two major surveys of more than 100 IT professionals across the country – conducted three years apart – revealed that:
- In 2013, 50 percent of 127 surveyed companies had experienced an IT project failure within the previous 12 months.
- The number grew to 55 percent reporting a project failure between January and March 2015.
A more recent report found that 25 percent of technology projects fail outright; 20 to 25 percent don’t show any return on investment and as many as 50 percent need massive reworking by the time they’re finished. (Forbes 2016).
There are multiple reasons for these dismal statistics. One of the primary culprits, I suspect, is the failed offshore development adventure. Instead of providing a cheap, fast turnkey solution, offshore software project frequently was bedeviled by poor management, confusion about team roles and /quality standards well below what U.S. companies (and consumers) expect. In fairness to lower-paid offshore IT professionals, language barriers, and time zone and cultural differences are tough hurdles to overcome.
I know of what I speak. Intertech attempted engaging offshore developers years back to offer our customers a more effective solution. We worked hard to make those offshore engagements work, but in the end, we spent more money than we saved due to extensive rework. As much as we in IT want to believe space should not matter, proximity to customers and the people doing the work does make a significant difference.
And so, where do go we from here?
The need to keep costs as low as possible has never been more acute. Global trade means (we) and our customers are competing with businesses around the world, many of which have much lower labor costs. We must find ways to keep delivering quality but at a price that doesn’t break the bank.
Next time: The ugly.
About Tom Salonek
Tom Salonek is the founder and CEO of Intertech. Founded in 1991, Intertech is the largest combined software development consulting and training firm in Minnesota, designing and developing software solutions that power Fortune 500 businesses, mid-sized companies and state government. Tom is also the author of the book, “The 100 Building Blocks for Business Leadership”, which outlines 100 successful management practices that are used at Intertech as well as learned at Salonek’s executive education study at Harvard School of Business and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.