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Top 10 Dev Mistakes

It's no secret that far too many software development projects end in abject failure. Whether it's a simple internal application or a massive, well-documented boondoggle like the FAA's disastrous Air Traffic Control system update, there are a lot of reasons that good software concepts can go bad.

In fact, Forrester Research recently published a report that defines 10 reasons software development efforts fail. The June 26, 2007 report by Forrester analyst Peter Sterpe, titled "Ten Mistakes That Send Development Projects Off Track," makes for some compelling reading. You can get a quick intro here.

So what gaffes made the list? Here are the 10 points from the report:

  1. Never committing to project success (that is, the target user community needs to be on board with the application).
  2. Freezing the schedule and budget before the project is understood well enough.
  3. Overscoping the solution.
  4. Circumventing the app dev organization altogether.
  5. Underestimating the complexity of the problem.
  6. Being stingy with subject-matter experts (SMEs).
  7. Choosing the wrong project leadership.
  8. Distrusting the managers to whom tasks have been delegated.
  9. Jumping into the "D" of "R&D" without enough "R."
  10. Suppressing bad news.

Worth noting from Forrester's exploration is the fact that many of these lethal pitfalls tend to occur in the planning and analyzing stages of software projects. In other words, it's the early failures that often kill projects later.

Is this list complete? In your experience, what causes well-intentioned software development projects to fall flat on their face? E-mail me at [email protected].

Posted by Michael Desmond on 06/27/2007 at 1:15 PM


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