Last week the National Audit Office published a progress review of the 16 largest ongoing projects at the Ministry of Defence. The MOD: Major Projects report 2012 shows that software development problems were a key reason for delays in many of these projects.
Last week the National Audit Office published a progress review of the 16 largest ongoing projects at the Ministry of Defence. The MOD: Major Projects report 2012 shows that software development problems were a key reason for delays in many of these projects. While in this case some of the software issues are related to other factors including equipment manufacturing, the report’s findings do highlight the importance of thorough planning and good project management in software development, and also how difficult this can be to achieve in large-scale, complex projects.
From the report it is unclear exactly what issues contributed to the development delays, but from our experience delays are usually down to a lack of dynamism in planning revision, which is ultimately due to poor communication between client, developer, team leader and project manager. Project managers who do not invest time in building relationships with developers, team leaders and the client are often the ones who struggle to deliver projects on time. Similarly, to really grip the project, customer teams also need to invest time and effort in relationship building and communication.
There’s no getting away from it: software delays are costly. For the MOD, project slippage in the past year has resulted in £468m of additional costs. Of course this amount isn’t down to software delays alone but they are likely to have contributed a significant amount. It’s worth investing extra time at the start of any outsourced software development project on planning, establishing communication processes and building relationships, as this is likely to really help minimise project delays later. Oh, and of course it goes without saying that neither outsourcer nor customer should work with a partner they don’t get along with in the first place.