Every software project is unique and has its own characteristics. There are lots of factors that affect the status of a project and can lead it to either success or failure. One of the most important things as software providers, is to identify these problems doing excellent exploratory research and deep analysis of the needs and improvement opportunities.

Here are the main reasons that all too often, software projects don’t end up fulfilling all of everyone’s dreams and how to avoid them:

1. Rushing the Estimation Phase

This initial stage is one of the most critical phases, since it encloses those tasks that go into determining the needs or conditions to meet for a new product or project. In this stage, conflict may appear, since there are many stakeholders in the process, analyzing, documenting, validating and managing software or system requirements.

Requirements analysis is critical to the success or failure of a systems or software project. These requirements should be documented, measurable, testable, and the most important thing is that allows us to identified business needs.

Spend enough time figuring out the scope of the project and planning the data flows and don’t rush the steps that take place between the initial idea and the writing of the code.  

2. Skimping on Testing

It’s never acceptable to skimp on testing.

There’s a popular notion out there that big software projects can benefit from transparency. Make open-source projects and you have teams of testers out there willing to review your code and uncover problems. One major benefit of the open-source software development culture is that you get tons of testing done on your product.

But it’s not appropriate to have every software project out there in the public arena. That’s one of the reasons why software developers use automatic testing. It drastically cuts down on the resources you need for the essential testing phase of a product. In fact, there are so many benefits of this type of teasing, that we have created our own testing Automation framework.

3. Cost and Schedule Overruns

Mckinsey reports that, of all the types of IT project failures, software projects are the most likely to suffer from going over budget and over schedule. They also added that sometimes, these overruns can lead to “Black Swans”, which almost bring the whole company down.

The Mckinsey report added that one way to avoid these overruns is to focus on:

“…excelling at core project-management practices, such as short delivery cycles and rigorous quality checks”

4. Lack of Ownership/Ownership Spread Too Thin

When different stakeholders in the same project, have different ideas about the benefits and the various options involved, their expectations can become incompatible.

Lack of ownership also reduces accountability for the overall project. Deadlines slip by and roadblocks come up but when ownership is spread out too thin, it’s hard to manage the project and it becomes more likely that it will fail.    

When there’s a Project Manager on board, they “own” the software project. On the client side, there should be somebody who plays a similar role.

One thread that runs through all of this is that it’s critical to have a great Project Manager (PM). The ability and the know-how to strike a good balance between good governance and the needs of the project as well as to assemble the right team requires both a good understanding of business goals and experience with the technical side of the software development process.

PMs do not only have to be highly qualified. They have to understand the importance of having a Business Analyst and a QA on the team and they understand how the pieces fit together for a successful software project. It’s because of them that high-performing projects succeed, not just in any industry but in software development as well.