Software development projects are critical for the advancement of modern businesses and industries. However, the reality is a situation where many software projects often suffer from overruns in terms of time and resources. Overruns have a domino effect on various aspects of project execution and management, leading to unanticipated resource allocation and ultimately leads to skill shortages in the industry. This blog post will highlight why software project overruns and skills shortages are an intrinsically linked problem.
The Average Software Project Overrun Percentage
Software project overruns occur when a project takes longer to complete or consumes more resources than originally estimated. According to industry data, the average software project overrun percentage is around 30%, which means, on average, projects take 30% more time and resources than initially planned (McKinsey). The implication from this is that 1 in 4 people involved in software projects were never part of the original plan and were not part of the project team assigned at the beginning of the project. That’s approximately 25% of the industry working on tasks which were either not in the original plans or were under-estimated at the out-set. This additional resource needs to be found from somewhere.
Causes of Software Project Overruns
Several factors contribute to software project overruns, such as:
- Poor Requirements : Incomplete or poorly documented requirements can lead to requirements being missed or misinterpreted.
- Inaccurate Initial Estimates: Many projects begin with optimistic estimates based on limited information and an incomplete understanding of the requirements and complexities involved.
- Scope Creep: Additional features or changes to the project scope often emerge as the development progresses, leading to increased workload and delays.
One thing each of these factors has in common is requirements – if these aren’t fully scoped and agreed at the outset of a project, one or more of these factors can occur, seriously impacting the successful completion of the project.
Impact on Resource Allocation
When software projects overrun, there is an urgent need to bring the project back on track. This often requires adding additional resources, including software developers, quality assurance testers, project managers, and other support staff. However, the sudden demand for skilled personnel can be challenging to fulfil, especially in an industry already facing a shortage of tech talent.
The Skill Shortage Conundrum
The continued occurrence of software project overruns has significant implications for the labour market within the technology industry. As companies allocate more resources to struggling projects, they divert skilled professionals from other projects or upcoming ventures. This reallocation creates a resource strain, leaving other projects undermanned and increasing the risk of further delays and overruns across the board.
Addressing The Problem
In an industry already plagued by skills shortages – why would you add to the issue with overruns which could be avoided? In reality, as outlined in the statistics earlier in this article, this is exactly what the industry is doing. It’s a self-perpetuating problem being made worse by not focusing on accurate requirements.
Fieldimp is a software company based in the UK who has decided to tackle this problem head-on. Tired of seeing statistics such as 1 in 4 software developers working on overrunning project tasks, founder, John McGuire decided it was time for action. Their recently launched product, Requiment is an AI driven requirements gathering and management tool which aims to solve this issue once and for all.
“In my experience, there is one area of software development which is severely undervalued and not given the attention it deserves – requirements gathering.
Recognising this as an industry wide issue, we created Requiment. Utilising AI, Requiment guides you through prepared questions to determine a full and detailed requirement specification and project scope based on outcomes. This application acts as a virtual business analyst, guiding users through the requirements process, whilst providing insight and recommendations to the user based on the type of application being designed as well as trends from other users. Ultimately, our mission with Requiment is to make the process of software requirements capture more accurate, agile and efficient leading to more successful projects.”
Software project overruns have become an unfortunate norm in the industry and all too often are accepted as something which as an industry we need to accept. This acceptance of failure is ultimately leading to unanticipated resource allocation and skill shortages. To tackle this issue of software project overruns and skills shortages, companies must prioritise accurate requirements gathering. By addressing this challenge head-on, the technology industry can mitigate the impact of overruns, promote project success, and nurture a skilled and capable workforce for the future.