McKinsey & Company
JUL 13, 2014 8:37pm ET

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Achieving Success in Large, Complex Software Projects


Large technology-led transformation programs are important for creating business value and building strategic capabilities across industries. With many organizations spending around 50 percent of their IT budget on application development, the ability to execute software programs faster and at lower cost is essential to success for many transformation projects. However, the quality of execution leaves much to be desired. A joint study by McKinsey and Oxford Uni­versity found that large software projects on average run 66 percent over budget and 33 percent over schedule; as many as 17 percent of projects go so badly that they can threaten the very existence of the company.

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Comments (2)
You may also want to look at build vs. buy decision for IT projects. When you build a app from scratch, this is heavily influenced by the development tool stack. For eg., client/server GUI RAD projects have a far greater success rate than web GUI projects due to the lack of 4GL capabilities in web GUI projects. When you buy a app and configure, chances of failure is far less as you would have evaluated the tool before the buy.
Posted by Ganesh S | Saturday, July 19 2014 at 10:36PM ET
It's good to revisit traditional approaches and define a mix of Waterfall and Rational Unified Process or, integrate Waterfall and Agile to arrive at modularization for large projects. But the key for such large programs is great execution which requires hierarchy of control points and good governance model. Overall, three things really help, ie. clarity of Vision, Risk reduction or controlled iterative approach and the great team who has open mind led by good integrated leadership.

Looks like in the above case you had good clarity of requirements and business perspective. In any case, it is never easy to manage such large projects. So, Thanks for sharing experience.

-- Vivek

Posted by Vivek B | Saturday, July 19 2014 at 10:46PM ET
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