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An Empirical Study of Software Project Management among Some Selected Software Houses in Nigeria

An Empirical Study of Software Project Management among Some Selected Software Houses in Nigeria

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Published by ijcsis
In recent years, the software industry has been struggling with building quality software unsuccessfully. This is witnessed by failures in major software projects. Software projects fail not because of complexity but unconscious response to software project management approach which has led to major drawback of software industry in achieving tremendous success in their services. There is need to bridge the gap between increasing diffusion of software projects in the industry and the challenge of optimizing the allocation and integration of inputs necessary to meet defined project objectives. This study evaluates how software projects are managed in the Nigeria software industry. Eight software houses in Lagos Metropolis in the South West of Nigeria were selected for the study based on their software project management experiences. Project Managers were interviewed and professionals were observed. Projects documentations were also examined. The research measured four independent variables: project planning, project estimation, project scheduling and project management methodologies. Nine independent variables were measured in the research: scope, developmental stages, requirement management, cost, effort, project duration, team members, tools, and models. Results from the study shows that 80% of the software projects were 20% ahead of deadline, 6.67% were 10% ahead of time and 13.33% met deadline but they were not of good quality. Lack of presentation of requirements in an understandable form, project scope expansion, problem of training and managing team members; and adopting the right methodologies as stated by the Project Managers are the major drawbacks in achieving project goals.
In recent years, the software industry has been struggling with building quality software unsuccessfully. This is witnessed by failures in major software projects. Software projects fail not because of complexity but unconscious response to software project management approach which has led to major drawback of software industry in achieving tremendous success in their services. There is need to bridge the gap between increasing diffusion of software projects in the industry and the challenge of optimizing the allocation and integration of inputs necessary to meet defined project objectives. This study evaluates how software projects are managed in the Nigeria software industry. Eight software houses in Lagos Metropolis in the South West of Nigeria were selected for the study based on their software project management experiences. Project Managers were interviewed and professionals were observed. Projects documentations were also examined. The research measured four independent variables: project planning, project estimation, project scheduling and project management methodologies. Nine independent variables were measured in the research: scope, developmental stages, requirement management, cost, effort, project duration, team members, tools, and models. Results from the study shows that 80% of the software projects were 20% ahead of deadline, 6.67% were 10% ahead of time and 13.33% met deadline but they were not of good quality. Lack of presentation of requirements in an understandable form, project scope expansion, problem of training and managing team members; and adopting the right methodologies as stated by the Project Managers are the major drawbacks in achieving project goals.

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An Empirical Study of Software Project Management among Some Selected SoftwareHouses in Nigeria
Olalekan AKINOLA
1
Funmilayo, AJAO Opeoluwa B. AKINKUNMI
 
solom202@yahoo.co.uk
 
funmicoco@yahoo.com
 
bo.akinkunmi@mail.ui.edu.ng
 
Computer Science Department, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria
1
Correspondence Author
Abstract
In recent years, the software industry has been struggling withbuilding quality software unsuccessfully. This is witnessed byfailures in major software projects. Software projects fail notbecause of complexity but unconscious response to softwareproject management approach which has led to major drawback of software industry in achieving tremendous success in theirservices. There is need to bridge the gap between increasingdiffusion of software projects in the industry and the challenge of optimizing the allocation and integration of inputs necessary tomeet defined project objectives. This study evaluates how softwareprojects are managed in the Nigeria software industry. Eightsoftware houses in Lagos Metropolis in the South West of Nigeriawere selected for the study based on their software projectmanagement experiences. Project Managers were interviewed andprofessionals were observed. Projects documentations were alsoexamined. The research measured four independent variables:project planning, project estimation, project scheduling and projectmanagement methodologies. Nine independent variables weremeasured in the research: scope, developmental stages,requirement management, cost, effort, project duration, teammembers, tools, and models. Results from the study shows that80% of the software projects were 20% ahead of deadline, 6.67%were 10% ahead of time and 13.33% met deadline but they werenot of good quality. Lack of presentation of requirements in anunderstandable form, project scope expansion, problem of trainingand managing team members; and adopting the rightmethodologies as stated by the Project Managers are the majordrawbacks in achieving project goals.
1.
 
Introduction
Software is becoming an integral part of every product [11].Nothing seems to be concrete nowadays without theincorporation of software because they hold the key to thefuture and almost everything is becoming a key part of it,for instance consumer products, medical devices and so on.The application of software to engineering is softwareengineering. That is, the application of systematic,disciplined, quantifiable approach to the development,operation, the maintenance of the software and the study of the approaches [15]. The phases involved in softwaredevelopment are software requirement, software design,implementation, testing and maintenance.Software project is a part of software engineering modulesbecause the technology of developing software ties to thetechniques of software project. It encompasses theknowledge, techniques and tools necessary to ensure thedevelopment of software products [4]. It plans for softwaredevelopment using effective estimation of size and effortand to execute plan with attention to productivity andquality.The primary challenge of managing the software project ishow to achieve all the project goals and objectives withsome preconceived constraints. The constraints are criticalto the developers and customers. The constraints are scope,scheduling and cost. These three constraints are oftencompeting: an increase scope typically means increasedtime and increased cost and a tight time constraint couldmean reduced scope and increased cost and a tight budgetcould mean increased time and reduced scope. The accuracyof the above constraints will aid in generating request forproposals, contract negotiations, scheduling, monitoring andcontrol.There is no doubt that software industry has made progressbut there is need to bridge the gap of the challenge of howsoftware development project can be well managed, plannedand organized to enhance productivity given deliverables,timeframes and budgets. This study was carried out with aview to understudy the nature of software projectmanagement in some selected software houses in Lagos,Nigeria. The rest of this paper is organized as follows:Section 2 contains the review of some related works. Insection 3, the methodology approach used for this study isstated. Results obtained from the study are given in section4 while section 5 gives the discussion of the results.Conclusions from the findings are presented in section 6.
2.
 
Review of Literature
A project is a temporary endeavor having a definedbeginning and end, undertaken to meet particular goals andobjectives usually to bring beneficial change or value.Project Management is the discipline of planning,organizing and managing resources to bring about thesuccessful completion of specific project goals andobjectives [12]. Another school of thought believes thatproject
(IJCSIS) International Journal of Computer Science and Information Security,Vol. 9, No. 3, March 2011263http://sites.google.com/site/ijcsis/ISSN 1947-5500
 
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management is a leadership role which plans, budget,coordinates, monitor and control the operationalcontribution of property professionals [18].Software Project Management is a sub discipline of projectmanagement. Project management is as old as writtenhistory and has been practiced since early civilization.Projects were generally managed by creative engineers andarchitects such as Christopher Wren (1632-1732), ThomasTelford (1757-1834) until 1950s when organizations beganto apply project management tools and techniques tocomplex projects.As a discipline, Project Management was developed fromseveral fields of application such as construction,engineering etc. Two forefathers of Project Management areHenry Gantt called the father of planning and controltechniques that are famous for his use of Gantt chart as aproject management tool and Henri Fayol, a father of management function which forms the foundation of thebody of knowledge associated with project and programmanagement [8].The 1950s marked the beginning of modern projectmanagement era. Prior to the 1950s, projects were managedon an ad hoc basis using mostly Gantt Charts and informaltechniques and tools. Early metrics on project managementare Gantt chart and Program Evaluation and ReviewingTechniques chart developed in the 1950s and 1960s.Twomathematical project-scheduling models were alsodeveloped as at that time and they are the Critical PathMethod (CPM) and Program Evaluation and Reviewingtechniques (PERT).These mathematical techniques quicklyspread into many private enterprises.Software project management is a sector that arguablywitnessed the highest rate of project failure in the world.Dorsey [7] pointed out that large information systemprojects have been reported to be subject to failure ratesbetween 50-80% and Bupa [5] stated that according to arecent report by the Standish Group, only one in three ITprojects were delivered on time, within budget andaccording to Specification. IT projects, particularly those of a software nature, have different strengths and weaknessesas compared to traditional engineering projects [20]. Forinstance, some strengths associated with software projectsinclude flexibility, ease of creating backups, scalability,replication and reusability of components while someweaknesses include invisibility, complexity, difficulty toadd people to delayed projects and the need for regularupgrades.However, hard skills remain the traditional main focus of most IT project management methodologies. Hard skills,often described as a science [3], comprise processes, toolsand techniques applied to projects. In managing softwareprojects, tools and techniques related to hard skills are givenmuch attention in an attempt to drive projects towardssuccess. Unfortunately, we find that many software projectsdo not live up to expectations. Hard skills are the technicalskills required within the confines of a domain. Theyencompass the dimensions such as processes, tools andtechniques.Extensive research has been conducted in projectmanagement with greater emphasis on hard skills [13].These skills, although of crucial importance, are to beconsidered along with the broader soft skills according toBelzer [3]. Most project management methodologies show agreater coverage of hard skills. It is observed that researchefforts are expended towards automating the process of management of projects with regards to hard skills.Soft skills, often described as an art [3], have been identifiedas critical for project success. Soft skills are the non-technical skills that are often not given due considerationwhile managing projects. Soft skills, often described as anart [3], is concerned with managing and working withpeople, ensuring customer satisfaction with the intention of retaining them and creating a conducive environment for theproject team to deliver high quality products within budgetand on time and exceeding stakeholders expectations Theyare often concerned with managing and working with people[9]. These skills are typically acquired through experience[3] and the various dimensions are communication skills,team building, organization effectiveness, leadership and soon. Companies, like Mastek, Polaris and Sun Microsystems,being conscious of the importance of soft skills, haveincorporated such skills into their training agenda [1].Every year, the CHAOS chronicle [21] reports on the failurerate of IT projects in the USA. Although there was anobserved decline in the percentage of failed projects in theUSA since 1994 as summarized by Sonnekus andLabuschagne [16], the same trend may not have beenobserved in other countries, especially those with adeveloping economy. Developed countries like the UK andUSA are facing an advantageous situation with the use of well adapted methodologies, tools and techniques throughrigorous research and development initiatives both fromacademia as well as from professional bodies like theProject Management Institute (PMI) and Office of Government Commerce (OGC). According to a surveycarried out by Sonnekus and Labuschagne [16], the failurerate of IT projects in South Africa was found to be 22%,which can be observed to be comparable to that of theCHAOS chronicle released in 2000.Following a survey carried out in 2003 in Mauritius [20], atleast 50% of software projects that suffered due to deadlineproblem, budget overruns and quality problems were foundto be 50%, 30% and 10% respectively. Table 1 gives thepercentage of USA failed projects from 1994 to 2002.
(IJCSIS) International Journal of Computer Science and Information Security,Vol. 9, No. 3, March 2011264http://sites.google.com/site/ijcsis/ISSN 1947-5500
 
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Table 1: USA Project Success Rate (Source: Sukhoo,
et al 
., [20])Year Percentage of failedprojects
CHAOS-1994 31%CHAOS-1996 40%CHAOS-1998 28%CHAOS-2000 23%CHAOS-2002 15%In contrast, traditional engineering projects generallyachieve much higher success rates. This is due toexploitation of inherent strengths and prudent managementof weaknesses associated with engineering projects that aredifferent from those of software projects [14]. The strengthsand, in particular the weaknesses associated withengineering projects have been addressed better due to thefact that these projects were managed for many decades andare also better understood. Management of software projectsin particular has been carried out for far less than what is thecase with traditional projects. In addition to hard skillsrequired, it has been observed that a good mix with softskills is required for IT organizations [1]. When popularproject management methodologies like the ProjectManagement Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) and Projects inControlled Environment (PRINCE2) are analyzed closely,one finds that not much emphasis is laid on soft skills.Furthermore, a survey of soft skills required in ITorganizations was carried out at the University of Arkansas[6] and the results obtained showed highly desired skills tobe problem solving process, listening skills, teamwork,adaptability to new technology and new languages,transferring knowledge to application, time management,visualization and conceptualization skills and verbalcommunication. Desired skills included the ability to multi-task, dealing with business culture, inter-teamcommunication, interpersonal skills, constructive criticism,organization skills, stress management and general writingskills. According to the survey, less desired skills compriseleadership, technical writing, dealing with diversification(different cultures) and presentation skills.However, Moreira [10] claims that success in themanagement of software projects does not rely entirely onhard skills. A combination of hard skills and soft skills mayeffectively and efficiently steer projects towards success.This is confirmed by the fact that the best jobs are oftenoffered to seasoned professionals who have a goodcombination of technical knowledge, general business skillsand communication skills [2]. Given that software projectshave inherent complexity and invisibility features (Hughesand Cotterell, 2002) that may hamper progress duringdevelopment stages, it becomes necessary to articulate hardskills together with soft skills.
3.
 
Research Methodology3.1
 Random sampling
According to Soriyan and Heek [17], there are more than100 active firms, mainly in the richer, better educated southwest of Nigeria and they are concentrated in Lagos. Eightsoftware houses in Lagos Metropolis were picked at randomto represent a sample of the software industry in Nigeriabased on their experience in the industry. They are allprivate companies which are multinationals having jointventure with foreign companies. Six of the firms claimedthat they have been in the business of software developmentfor more than ten years while the rest two were about fiveyears old in the business.The software firms specializes in the integration of information technology into business processes through thedesign and installation of mission critical informationsystems in key sector of Nigeria economy like financial,information technology and other business sectors.Some of the services provided by the Organizations areInstallation, Software development, Training, IT consulting,Bureau Services, Accounting System Automation,Maintenance and Support and so on.
3.2 Data Collection3.2.1
 Interview technique
Interview technique was adopted as a reliable data collectiontool for eliciting some useful and detailed information fromthe staffers of the companies especially the Software ProjectManagers. The interview questions were structured toenable the researcher gathers as much relevant informationas possible from the Project Managers and Group ProjectCoordinators of some of the software houses visited inLagos. The structured interview schedules were strictlyfollowed except for some questions that arose at intervals.The replies to these questions were carefully noted. Somegeneral views but relevant about software industry featuredin the discussion.
 3.2.2 Fact-finding and observation
This inductive process of careful observation was done byworking with the software organizations. Various teamsemployed in the organization were worked with becausewhat one see for oneself is the best source of information.The appointments with the software houses visited varydepending on their schedules. The reasons for this choice of method are to evaluate the efficiency of current softwareproject management in software houses and for verification.
(IJCSIS) International Journal of Computer Science and Information Security,Vol. 9, No. 3, March 2011265http://sites.google.com/site/ijcsis/ISSN 1947-5500

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