Chapter 1. Managing Software Projects

Chapter 1. Managing Software Projects

Worldwide, some half a million project managers execute about a million software projects each year, producing software worth $600 billion. Many of these projects fail to fulfill customers' quality expectations or fail to deliver the software within budget and on schedule. One analysis suggests that about one-third of projects have cost and schedule overruns of more than 125%.1

Why do so many software projects fail? Although there are many reasons, one of the most important is improper management of the project. For example, the major reasons for runaways (projects that are out of control) are unclear objectives, bad planning, new technology, a lack of a project management methodology, and insufficient staff.2 At least three of these five reasons clearly relate to project management. The other two insufficient staff and new technology can be considered as risks whose management is also a part of project management.

Clearly, by using effective project management techniques a project manager can improve the chances of success. But what are these effective techniques?

Let's consider an analogy. Suppose you want to develop a muscular, toned body. To reach your goal, you start looking at exercise routines described in magazines. One article describes how to develop arm strength, giving a set of 10 exercises to be done not too many by any standard. But then another article, this one on developing thigh strength, also gives 10 exercises, and the evangelist for flat stomachs also feels that doing 10 exercises is not too much. If you want to develop your body overall by following each of these isolated exercise programs, you would find that you have a set of 50 to 100 exercises to do a clear impossibility for most people, let alone a busy project manager. To achieve your objective, you need a comprehensive training program that is practical and effective.

Similarly, you'll find an abundance of suggestions for performing the various aspects of project management, including effort estimation, risk management, project monitoring, configuration management, and so on. Although each proposed technique solves the problem it is designed to solve, it is not clear how to combine these techniques into a practical and workable process. For effective project management, the need of the hour is a practical, manageable "exercise routine" that will deliver the result. In other words, what is needed is a balanced process that covers the management of the entire project from inception to completion. Unfortunately, there is a paucity of published approaches illustrating how to integrate techniques in this way.

This book fills this gap by describing the set of processes used in a world-class organization to effectively and efficiently manage software projects. The company is Infosys, a software development company that has an enviable track record of project execution; in 2000 alone, Infosys project managers used the processes described here to successfully execute about 500 projects for customers. This book discusses all aspects of Infosys project management planning, execution, and closure. You'll learn how Infosys project managers estimate, plan for managing risks, collect metrics data, set quality goals, use measurements for monitoring a project, and so on. An interesting aspect of these processes, one that will appeal to busy project managers, is that they are neither complex nor cumbersome, and they use simple metrics.

Infosys has been assessed at level 5 (the highest level) of the Capability Maturity Model (CMM). By extracting project management processes from the set of processes at Infosys, this book also illustrates how projects are managed in a high-maturity organization. Through this illustration, I hope to bring the benefits of the CMM to project managers who have not studied it because of lack of time, because they regard it as being for "process folks" or because they have found it difficult to relate the CMM to project management practices.

This chapter introduces the two topics that form the background for the book: the CMM and Infosys. Because the focus of the book is project management and not the CMM, I restrict the discussion to the project management aspects of the CMM. This chapter also provides an overview of the project management process and the main case study; details of these are discussed in the remainder of the book. First, then, let's briefly discuss the role of processes in project management.

 



Software Project Management in Practice
Linux Annoyances for Geeks: Getting the Most Flexible System in the World Just the Way You Want It
ISBN: 0596008015
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2005
Pages: 83
Authors: Michael Jang

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