LONDON, 17th February 2005 – Corporate IT is broken. Businesses have been lulled into an acceptance of mediocrity when it comes to investing in business critical software – and it is costing them millions. Rigid, stagnant approaches that ignore the productivity potential of the individual and the power of the team, coupled with corporate complacency, are the main culprits, says IT professional services firm, ThoughtWorks, Inc.
According to US-based technology consultants, Standish Group – which has studied more than 50,000 projects over the last decade for its CHAOS research project – only 29% of IT projects succeeded, measured on whether they were delivered on time, on budget, with required features and functions.
More than half (53%) were challenged – late, over budget and/or delivered with less than the required features and functions. Furthermore, 18% failed through cancellation prior to completion or delivery and were never used.
Interestingly, although the project statistics have a heavier concentration on the United States, accounting for 58% of those surveyed, 27% are European. And there is no evidence that the UK experience is any better.
ThoughtWorks lays the blame for this situation on outdated approaches to application development. Some of the most commonly used approaches are not adaptive enough for today’s businesses and inhibit – instead of harness – the abilities of individual team members. This is compounded by a general lethargy towards changing views on the role of technology in business – and the development best practices that are used to deliver successful projects.
ThoughtWorks warns that unless organisations revolutionise the way that software is developed and delivered, businesses will continue to fail to gain the return on investment from software projects that business and technical leaders demand.
“The answer is simple – producers and consumers of software need to think differently about everything. Not just process, but people, organisational structure, measurement, how they define quality, how they measure success. The bigger and more complicated the project, the harder it is to ensure the desired outcome – and the greater the impact of failure,” says Trevor Mather, President and UK Managing Director of ThoughtWorks.
“Astute companies recognise that they need to raise the game. They are no longer prepared to invest in projects that just fail to deliver meaningful value to the business (they take too long, are functionally and or technically incorrect).
A sea change is needed in the way business and IT interact, and how both approach strategic development,” he continues.
There is no universal panacea but ThoughtWorks strongly favours Agile and iterative methods for their ability to optimise productivity of software development teams and minimise risk, while ensuring end user satisfaction and support. Importantly, these methods also enable ThoughtWorks to deliver high-value working software to end users – rapidly and continuously. So users get real business benefit right away, week-by-week, month-by-month, throughout the project – and continue to reap future rewards.
This means displacing outdated approaches to application development, especially the traditional ‘waterfall’ method, where all requirements are defined at the outset and the high risk ‘difficult to do’ elements are pushed towards the final stages of the project.
Mather added that Agile methods are based on very disciplined processes that let people create better software faster. Research has proven that the single biggest impact on software productivity is the people – and interestingly, Agile encompasses the first set of software engineering practices to be based on the way people actually develop software.
But even the best software development methodologies and tools can’t compensate for the quality of the people using them. For ThoughtWorks to succeed on behalf of its clients and to underpin the company’s performance and continued expansion, it is vital that its people – the ThoughtWorkers – are of the very highest calibre.
“Our people are passionate about software delivery. In fact, many are well-known in the community for their research into improving how software is delivered,” Mather explains.
“Perhaps most importantly, our clients find that ThoughtWorkers help to release the innovation that is often locked into the enterprise. Together, they significantly increase the likelihood of delivering measurable business benefit from software development projects, on time, within budget – and up to expectations.”
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ThoughtWorks, Inc. is a transnational IT professional services firm providing application development and systems integration services to Global 1000 companies. The company's leadership in the practical application of Agile methods on enterprise-class projects allows its people to deliver higher quality solutions more quickly and cost effectively, while giving client business leaders greater program and project control.
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