Software Project Management Practices: Failure vs. Success

The October 2004 issue of CrossTalk, the Journal of Defense Software Engineering, includes an article by Capers Jones titled, “Software Project Management Practices: Failure Versus Success”.

The analysis of approximately 250 large software projects between 1995 and 2004 shows an interesting pattern. When comparing large projects that successfully achieved their cost and schedule estimates against those that ran late, were over budget, or were canceled without completion, six common problems were observed:

  • poor project planning
  • poor cost estimating
  • poor measurements
  • poor milestone tracking
  • poor change control
  • poor quality control

By contrast, successful software projects tended to be better than average in all six of these areas. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of these six problem areas is that all are associated with project management rather than with technical personnel.

Two working hypotheses emerged:

1) poor quality control is the largest contributor to cost and schedule overruns
2) poor project management is the most likely cause of inadequate quality control

To see the full article in CrossTalk, go to <http://www.stsc.hill.af.mil/crosstalk/2004/10/0410Jones.html>.