SPHERE OF INFLUENCE, INC. – software studios and services
If you are building software and have not identified the product’s key differentiator then it really doesn’t matter whether you have good project management. Lack of product differentiation always leads to the same outcome - failure. Management is irrelevant because undifferentiated software even with excellent project management that delivers the product on time and under budget still fails because customers and users won’t be attracted to it. When considering Government customers – these customers often pay for systems before differentiators are established, which means the systems frequently fail to address a real need or adequately solve a real problem.
In doing some research, I found a report from the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) that lists government IT projects with performance “shortfalls”. You can find a copy of this report at http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d081051t.pdf. When looking at the reasons cited by the GAO as to why these projects were added to the Management Watch List I noticed none of the reasons resembled product design. Instead, the report cites Risk Management, Cost and Schedule Performance, and Program Management as the rational for including projects on the list.
As Yogi Berra, the famous Major League Baseball player and manager said – “If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.” When I look at the metrics used to assess the success of Government IT projects for the GAO report, it is glaringly obvious that they are missing a primary factor, product design. Until institutions acknowledge and begin assessing product design as a critical element for their software development initiatives, the final results are not likely to improve.