Personal development and organisational structures are often viewed as the ‘fluffy’ stuff, with little relationship to bottom-line. This Blog series will attempt to demonstrate that the reverse is true. In this third blog, we’ll examine the overall effect of working in a rapidly innovating industry with a long-term talent shortage.
Perpetuating Dross? An Industry Dilemma
The software industry is young. It’s only been around for about 60 years… We’re still finding our feet and demand for our product is increasing exponentially. Banking and Retail have had millennia to refine their practices; we’re still learning ours… When we then add to this learning curve the scarcity of resources, it’s easy to see why in 1994 the Standish report were stating only 16% of software projects were successful.
Projects have been so unsuccessful that C-level executives ripped the software development capabilities out of their companies and off-shored it to countries like India, I once heard that “If I’m going to have projects that fail, I’d rather fail cheaply.”
However, more damaging to the software industry is not its embryonic stage, nor its learning curve, nor even the scarcity of resource, but the acceptance of poor product as the norm – the perpetuation of dross.
Customers of software have become accustomed to and accept defects as part of the product offering. Not only that, but also they expect and are prepared to upgrade products themselves, on a regular basis, and pay for the privilege of doing so in support and maintenance contracts or annual licensing.
In what other product development vertical would it be acceptable to have so many defects?
One of the effects of poor software implementations has been the creation and growth of an entirely new industry the Customer Services Call Centre. Companies understand that their technologies and processes are not aligned and faulty, so they establish huge customer service operations to answer customer queries and complaints and resolve the errors.
A further effect of accepting poor quality software production is the institutionalisation of waste within corporations. Executives attempt to control the situation by implementing more and more processes, bureaucracy and safety nets, as well as customer services, service management teams, and DevOps teams. This creates more cost, complexity and opportunities for error.
If each company made the time and resources available to solve root cause issues, then companies would learn to create and deliver the most value from the customer’s perspective, while consuming the fewest resources, by fully utilizing the knowledge, skills and thinking of those who perform the work
So poor product development within software has become the norm, we are perpetuating dross.
We create poor product, customers accept poor product, and therefore we are justified in creating more, poor product. We don’t evolve, we don’t improve our profession, we accept mediocrity in the name of profit and the cycle continues.
If you look at any other mature profession there are some key, visible elements… Doctors, civil engineers, solicitors, and bankers have set qualifications, apprenticeships, certifications, accreditations, regulators and associations. This represents a huge investment in the capabilities of the profession – how does the software industry compare?
Software development is in its infancy, we are all still learning, and we should be creating learning organisations. We should not accept poor quality product, and we are damaging the reputation of our profession by continuing to accept this course.