A CASE STUDY ON SOFTWARE PROJECT
MANAGEMENT IN INDUSTRY – EXPERIENCES
P. Mandl-Striegnitz1, H. Lichter2
1 Software Engineering Group, University of Stuttgart
2 Department of Computer Science, Aachen University of Technology Abstract
In this paper we present and discuss the findings of two case studies on software project management in industrial software development projects and the conclusions drawn from it. These studies were motivated to improve software project management capabilities. First, we describe how these studies were organized and performed. In the main part we present our findings and conclusions showing that there are strong deficits in project management quality. Based on these findings we briefly describe the structure of an improvement program aiming to remove or reduce those deficits.
Keywords: project management, case study, software project management improvement 1. INTRODUCTION
Many software projects are faced with a common situation: They fail in developing the required functionality within their schedule and planned budget; the results often lack the required quality. Thus, during the last years several companies have started initiatives to improve their software development. These initiatives mostly focus on improving the software processes and the technology used during software development. One area often underestimated but crucial for every software development project is project management. Project management is one of the key factors influencing the project success or failure. In this paper we present and discuss the findings of two case studies on project management in industrial software development and the conclusions drawn from it. These studies were motivated by the company’s goal to improve software project management. Before an improvement program could be developed, we first had to identify the strengths and weaknesses mainly focusing on project management. We also wanted to get an overview of the problems project managers have to face in industrial software projects contributing to schedule and budget overruns as well as to software systems with poor quality. Thus, at the very beginning a project management assessment was performed using on-site interviews with software project managers. The results of this first case study have been summarized in an assessment report (Lichter et al., 1996). To verify the qualitative data collected during the assessment a second investigation was performed by measuring quantitative data of a software development project.
Based on the results of both studies we are currently implementing a process improvement program mainly focusing on project management aspects. The key elements of this program will be presented.
2. DESCRIPTION OF THE CASE STUDIES
2.1 The First Case Study: A Project Management Assessment
At first we conducted a study whose purpose was to assess and better understand the current practices and problems of software project management as well as how they impact software development projects. The investigation was performed by means of structured, on-site interviews with software project managers. The questionnaire used for these interviews covers more than 70 factors potentially influencing the process and outcomes of software projects (Drappa, 1993; Jones, 1986; Paulk et al., 1993). The questions mainly address human factors and organizational aspects. In case the interviewed project managers had managed more than one software project, they were asked to answer the questions for each of these software projects. Thus, the project managers could supply all the information they had acquired. But it became apparent that the same project manager answered most of the questions identically for every project he had managed.
The data in the following sections describe the kinds of information we collected. The complete definition and planning of this study can be found in Lichter et al. (1996). Project Profile...
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