Software Pulse

Business Strategy for Software Executives

February 13 , 2006

Joe Marasco

Unraveling the Mystery of Software Development Success

An analysis of productivity and success rates finds software vendors can improve the quality and cost efficiency of their product output by improving the quality of their requirements input.

By Joe Marasco, N8 Systems

Is our software becoming more or less expensive to develop?

This is a difficult question. The applications that we develop continue to become more and more rich and sophisticated in their scope and functionality. The software projects we now undertake are much more complex than software projects were ten or twenty years ago. There is no doubt that we expect more from software today than ever before.

In a sense, we have a “chicken and egg” problem here. Are we doing more daunting things today because we can? That is, are we attempting more ambitious projects because we have better methodologies and tools that enable their conception and execution? Or, have the methodologies and tools just kept pace with the increasing challenges and degree of difficulty demanded by the external world?

When projects are successful, we have productivity levels that are much higher than ever before The mountains we are climbing are higher, and we are climbing them with proportionately fewer resources than in the past. That is the bright side of software development: better systems and higher productivity.

The dark side of the equation is project success rates. Why does the needle on success rates move so slowly? It is as though all the advances in methodologies and tools have helped us build more ambitious systems, yet there is some other factor that is keeping us from being successful more of the time. Perhaps there is something in the product development approach of the past several decades that is missing the point.


New Podcast: SaaS Comes of Age

Software as a Service is bringing sweeping changes to the industry. Learn more about the important implications and the resulting investment opportunities in a new podcast from, “SaaS Comes of Age.” publisher M.R. Rangaswami hosts a lively discussion with Gordon Ritter, general partner at Emergence Capital Partners, Michael Topolovac, CEO of Arena Solutions and Joe Kraus, CEO of Jotspot. Listen now >>

And find out more about important SaaS trends at Software 2006, April 4 and 5 in Santa Clara, Calif. Registration ends February 28 so sign up now!

More on SaaS: SAP Joins the Club

SAP’s entry into the on-demand market certainly underscores the legitimacy and power of the SaaS movement. Jeff Kaplan of THINKstrategies sorts out the implications of SAP’s move and presents the challenges that lay ahead in this week’s post to the Blog on SaaS.

Google’s Brand Betrayal?

To customers, a brand represents a promise. Guy Smith of Silicon Strategies Marketing points out how Google’s recent moves in China may put the company’s image in a compromised position in the minds of its customers. Read his analysis in this week’s post to the Blog on Sales & Marketing Best Practices.

The Blog is ready for your perspectives. We publish insightful strategy and opinion pieces by a variety of software executives, analysts and professionals. If you would like to contribute a post, email

Want to Compete in China?

Building a business in the world's largest market has never been easy. Technology vendors now face a rise in local-market competitors. The McKinsey Quarterly provides a set of tips for high-tech companies wanting to compete in this high-growth market.

A Month of Great Reading

Missed the past few issues of Software Pulse? Don’t miss Geoffrey Moore’s oped from last week on the Top 10 Innovation Myths, Wyse Technology CEO John Kish’s piece on Engineering a Renaissance, the Podcast recap Software Agenda for 2006, and RightNow Technologies’ CEO Greg Gianforte’s tips for Growing from Startup to Grownup.

Poll: Oracle’s Layoff Just the Beginning?

Last week, Oracle laid off 2,000 people. What does this say about the state of Oracle’s consolidation strategy?
Take our Pulse Poll >>

Last week, readers gave their opinions on how an increase in H-1B visas would impact the software business.
Give us your opinion and see the results >>

More at

Software offshoring costs on the rise.
Read the most important enterprise software industry news of the week >>

Cybernet Software Systems receives $22.5 million.
Monitor the latest software venture capital deals >>

Autodesk acquires Constructware for $46 million.
Size up last week's software M&A deals >>

Dave Davenport named CEO of StoredIQ.
See who’s made it to the top in our list of recent software executive appointments >>

Send us your feedback on this newsletter and the site.

Parting Thought

“Each success only buys an admission ticket to a more difficult problem.”
— Henry Kissinger

Courtesy of Malcolm Kusher, The Kushner Group