Five factors that can go wrong with software development

Software development projects

I have been lucky enough to be involved in many software development projects and the best or worst thing about each project is that every project throws you in the deep end with a new challenge. There are many experts, methodologies and tools that promises businesses that projects can be understood and implemented in the desired way without much hassle but very rarely are projects developed smoothly.

Based on my experience as a business analyst and project manager, I have brought together various factors that could constitute a project delivery and noted what could possibly go wrong with these ingredients and, from my limited experience, how can we resolve them!

Even though it might be old cliché all development projects are about people, processes and technology. However, there is always a debate about the weighting of these which factors in order to ensure successful delivery.

People

People or stakeholders are the most critical aspect of any project, and if we believe into experts’ stats, 80% of project success relies on how satisfied people are with the outcome

What can go wrong with stakeholders?
When stakeholders with conflicting objectives are not looked after well, the project can end in disaster!

How can this issue be resolved?
The mantra is to build relationships (via continuous communication with pure honesty and integrity) with each stakeholder to win their trust and understand their objectives. And once you know their goals, it becomes easy to lead from the front and be proactive so that you can tell your stakeholders how you are looking after their interests and create a win-win situation.

Process

Business processes are the heart of any project because these aspects define how businesses works in order to make successful proposition. And all projects are meant to either enhance existing processes or implement a new process in order to improve operation.

What can go wrong with processes?
Too much focus on people and technology can cause business process ignorance. I have seen lots of projects which, after a successful implementation, are scrapped due to their failure to implement the right processes.

And Solution is…
My experience is that the best way to ensure that processes are implemented correctly is to conduct a thorough analysis so that the precise scope can be defined and aligned to businesses. Strong leadership is then necessary to ensure successful implementation.

Technology

Technology helps companies to implement processes and let users operate their business.

What could go wrong with technology?
Over the, last decade or so we have seen great advances in technology that have led to us being carried away with the wonders it can do when it comes to project implementation, and that’s where things go wrong, be cause technology might force stakeholders to compromise on their objectives and can led to a non- business- relevant project i.e. either a project which is too advanced for the end user or not really implementing the right process.

How can this issue be resolved?
A Simple one liner is that the best way is for the business to lead on what technology should do, and not the other way round.

There are two more additional factors that can lead a project’s failure.

Development Methodologies

Two types of project development methodologies (Agile and Waterfall) are very prevalent in project management. They help to define various stages of the project and how to manage them.
But the problem is that sometimes, I have seen that the PMs and BAs get so obsessed with methodologies and their artifacts that they deviate from the main business objectives and deliverable, and that leads to delays or scope creep.
How can this issue be resolved?
Projects that adopt these methodologies loosely in order to put more emphasis on deliverables become more successful than those that wrangles between tightly- coupled methodologies and artifacts.

Development tools

To implement the above methodologies, there are many tools out there that already have templates in place to create everything from project plans to project initiation documents and requirements capturing documents, but .
again the issues is that PMAs and BAs gets too fixated with these tools and forget about real project deliverables, focusing more on tools.

We should limit the use of these tools and methodologies to ensure smooth project delivery, rather than putting in masses of time and effort to than mastering the tools.

Conclusion

No project can be delivered successfully until, as PM and BA, you have a grip on stakeholder objectives and, project scope, and then an understanding of technology to ensure that process are implemented as per business requirement., However, don’t forget no project will be implemented entirely without hassle, and the old saying is that every project has three phases: “storming, norming and performing” – I leave it to your imagination to interpretate what this means!!

Advertisements

2014 belongs to Social Commerce, Bitcoin, Wearable Tech and Sentiment Search

2013 saw the rise and rise of mobile commerce, the stock market launch (and surge in share price) of social media sites such as Twitter, LinkedIn & Facebook, the introduction of wearable technologies like Google Glass, and high demand for Bitcoin took its valuation to $1,000.

Google shares reached over $1,000, LinkedIn shares are trading at over 300% of their original value, Twitter and Facebook shares are strong too. Overall, the year was very exciting and reached heights that caused  critics to suspect a tech crunch just around the corner.

On  the downside, 2012 stars like Zynga and Groupon have struggled to maintain their share price and profits, and Samsung and Apple went to war over various patents.

Amid all these highs and lows, I have spotted some trends that might dominate the coming year’s technology developments.

1.Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn might need to think beyond display advertising or parish

Social media networks have become the most popular and most time-consuming sites and applications for users and the big three ($FB, $TWTR and $LINKD) are already trading on Wall Street with a combined valuation of over $200bn and a valuation per user over $100,  but revenue per user still in single figures. Therefore, I think to justify their valuation and competitive advantage, these networks will be forced to find means for brands to do commerce solely on their platform, because revenue merely based on display advertising and industry specific marketing products is not good enough and might only take them to closure rather than leading them to flourish.

2.Google, Samsung and Apple will indulge in a big wearable technology domination war

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2014 in Las Vegas is full of companies (including LG, Intel, Sony, and Samsung) demonstrating wearable technologies, such as: smart watches, smart bands, smart ear buds, and smart glasses.

Apple and Google are not participating in CES 2014 but undoubtedly they must be keeping track of their competitors with an eye on the almost saturated smartphone and tablet market.
Apple has already filed a patent for iWatch and, due to shareholder pressure, might launch this in 2014. If we believe in the continuation of historical trends around competitors product launches following Apple’s new product release, I am sure Google glasses will come out of beta and Samsung will improve their already launched Galaxy Gear in order to be top of their industry; a wearable technology war seems inevitable.

3.Sentiments and Location Search will replace Google Keyword Search

For many, Google keyword search is still the primary form of data finding service. However, the rising popularity of Q&A engines like Quora, Facebook’s Social Graph, Apple’s Siri, Google’s Map, and recently launched Social search app Jelly, by Twitter founder Biz Stone, indicate the futuristic search trend is more aligned to human sentiments, where users can search stuff based on real intention rather than generic search terms.

4.APIs accelerate Marketing Automation but surge bot rates too

“A study by Incapsula suggests 61.5% of all website traffic is now generated by bots. The security firm said that was a 21% rise on last year’s figure of 51%; however, Activity by ‘good bots,’ it added, had grown by 55% over the year.”

The trend will continue because marketing automation with artificial intelligence is gathering momentum and content networks and providers are giving access to their data via open APIs.

5.The direct messaging industry is poised for disruption or consolidation

Snapchat, WhatsApp, Blackberry Messenger (BBM), Twitter Direct Message, and Facebook Messenger process over ten billion direct messages every day. However, none of these has managed to determine their monetisation model, which means consolidation is inevitable. Biggies like Facebook and Twitter in particular are trying to spread their wing in this sector.

6.Bitcoin or virtual currency will become mainstream

Recent developments in the virtual currency industry are:

1) Bitcoin is trading at $1,000 after Zynga announced that they will take Bitcoin as formal currency to sell their products or games.

2) Many companies are already following the Bitcoin success story and launching their own currency such as “a new Bitcoin-like virtual currency inspired by rapper Kanye West is set to be launched, and has been named “Coinye West”. Kanye West is not involved and has yet to comment on its inception. It will follow in the footsteps of “Dogecoin”, another virtual currency based on the popular Doge meme.”

3) Amazon and Facebook are pondering their own currency too! Overall, 2014 will see virtual currencies become mainstream!

4) National government such as Singapore Tax Authorities (IRAS) Recognise Bitcoin;

Twelve science and technology endeavours that might improve Humankind lifestyle

In the last 10-15,000 years of written history mankind has come a long way, changing from predator to mostly producer; in that time all areas of human civilisation have witnessed a huge growth in technology. Specifically, if we look back over the last 100 – 150 years, the advances made in the electronic, medical, silicon, mechanical and chemical sciences are hugely praiseworthy: from the discovery of electricity to the invention of the telephone, through to aeroplanes, computers, satellites and the internet; as a result average life expectancy, income, and gross production per capita have all significantly increased.

However, despite all these advances, as humans we still need to resolve many puzzles around us; we don’t yet know what caused this universe to form, how the human nervous system works, how to permanently cure cancer or AIDS, eradicate poverty, religious wars or corruption or halt environmental change and what happens if the human population explodes beyond the means of this Earth?

The best thing is that we, human kind, have not become complacent and are very much aware of the challenges faced by our civilisation and that there are many projects taking place around the world to resolve these issues. I have summarised below some of the science and technology projects that might address these challenges and improve our lifestyle.

1.Large Hadron Collider (LHC) may figure out how the world is put together

Large Hadron Collider Particle physicists have the coolest job: smashing subatomic particles together at incredibly high speeds to untangle the secrets of the universe. Scientists use the LHC to reconstruct the conditions immediately following the Big Bang. In July 2012 the LHC drew international attention when scientists conveyed their discovery of the Higgs boson, the particle thought to explicate how other particles get their weight. “Our goal is always to understand how the world is put together,” said Roger Dixon, head of the accelerator division at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) in Batavia, Illinois.

2. Brain re-mapping reveals rationale behind our sentiments and abnormalities in our neuron system

Brain RemappingUS President Barack Obama has revealed a new initiative to map the brain. The $100m investment will be used to cultivate new technologies to examine how the billions of individual cells in the human brain interrelate. Scientists will also focus on how the brain registers, stores and processes information and investigate how brain function is linked to behaviour. The project will use supercomputer-based models and simulations to rebuild a virtual human brain to develop new cures for neurological conditions.

3. Human space exploration can give us a glimpse of the bigger picture

Human space exploration Human space exploration helps to address essential questions about the place of mankind in the universe and the history of our solar system. Through addressing the challenges related to human space exploration, scientists can figure out:
• How did the solar system form and where did the Earth’s water and other organic materials, such as carbon, originate?

• NASA is researching galactic cosmic radiation that might potentially be the most threatening element to humans exploring deep space with the aim of cultivating easing strategies that may also lead to medical advances on Earth.

• The International Space Station assists as a national laboratory for human health, biological and materials research, as a technology test-bed and as a stepping stone for going further into the solar system.

• By understanding more about asteroids we may learn more about past Earth impacts and possibly find ways to decrease the threat of future effects.

4. Stem cell research can fix physical anomalies in the human body

Stem cell research Scientists and researchers are interested in stem cells for several reasons; although stem cells do not serve any one function, many have the capacity to serve any function after they are instructed to specialize. Stem cells are powerful enough to regenerate damaged tissue under the right conditions and can help in:

1. Organ and tissue regeneration
2. Cardiovascular disease treatment
3. Brain disease treatment
4. Cell deficiency therapy
5. Blood disease treatments

5. Genetically modified foods might resolve food scarcity issues

Genetically modified foods Genetically modified foods are foods formed from genetically modified organisms (GMOs), specifically, genetically modified crops. GMOs have had specific changes woven into their DNA by genetic engineering methods.
With an ever-increasing global population, massive third world hunger and with an estimate that a child dies every two seconds worldwide from starvation, there is great potential in the use of genetically modified technology to the advantage not just of farmers but also for societies worldwide.

6. Big data analysis can make information much more transparent and curb corruption

Big data analysis Big data analysis can now process trillions of bytes of data in minutes; there are five broad ways in which using big data analysis can create value:

1. Big data can be used to monitor the progress of developments in the next generation of products and services. For instance, manufacturers are using data acquired from sensors implanted in products to create new after-sales service offerings such as proactive maintenance.

2. A big data can offer significant value by making information transparent and operational at much higher rate.

3. As businesses create and store more transactional data in digital form, they can collect more precise and detailed performance information on everything from product inventories to staff turnaround, and therefore exposes variability and increase productivity.

4. A big data permits ever-narrower segmentation of customers and therefore much more exactly customised offering.

5. Refined analytics can noticeably improve decision-making.

7. Renewable energy may slow environmental change

Renewable energy Renewable energy is energy that comes from resources which are continually restocked such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves and geothermal heat. About 16% of global final energy intake comes from renewable resources with 10% of all energy from traditional biomass, mainly used for heating, and 3.4% from hydroelectricity.

New renewables (small hydro, modern biomass, wind, solar, geothermal, and biofuels) account for another 3% and are growing rapidly. The share of renewables in electricity generation is around 19%, with 16% coming from hydroelectricity and 3% from new renewables.

8. Wearable tech, 3D printers, cloud computing and self-driving automobiles increase productivity

Renewable energy Other technology advances resulting from continuous computing and bio-technology growth are:

1. Cloud computing making information hosting, processing and rendering very accessible and cheap.

2. Wearable techs like Google Glass and Apple’s highly anticipated iWatch are embedding tech into the human body to enable more efficient collection and communication of information, thereby increasing productivity.

3. 3D printers/faxes that promise to manufacture custom made products on the fly.

4. Self-driving automobiles, like Google Car and Boing plane, reduce human error when we commute from one place to another.

5. DNA analysis helps to do genome analysis and can detect early signs of deadly diseases such as cancer.

Conclusion

Overall, we are still in the very early stages of discovering why we (i.e. human) exist, how we evolved, how our bodies work and subsequently facing issues like dementia, poverty, unemployment, religious wars, resource scarcity and those causing more agony and pain. But if we join all the points together, from the LDC project to renewable energy to brain mapping to cloud computing, we are progressing in the right direction by exploring the possibilities of what causes our existence; in doing so we are creating employment and using the latest technology to communicate new findings at a very high speed.