60% of Enterprise App Teams Struggle to Keep Projects on Time: Study

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2013-10-22

60% of Enterprise App Teams Struggle to Keep Projects on Time: Study

Yet another study has found that a majority of enterprise application teams are struggling to keep pace with project schedules. This new study, however, conducted by Forrester Consulting, offers the concept of “Integrated Thinking” as a solution.

According to an October commissioned study conducted by Forrester on behalf of EffectiveUI–a software design and development firm, only 39 percent of business decision makers said they believe their internal IT organizations have the ability to regularly deliver projects on time and on budget. That leaves more than 60 percent going over time and over budget.

Survey respondents listed a number of obstacles as the top reasons they struggle to keep up, including complexity of projects and silos within their organization. The Forrester study showed that 56 percent of respondents cited ever-changing business and user requirements as an obstacle, and 50 percent said they are trying to do too much at once. Meanwhile, 34 percent said they lack clear executive direction, 34 percent also pointed to a lack of the right development talent, and 32 percent cited a lack of stakeholder consensus as reasons why their application teams fall behind.

One survey respondent pointed out, “All the business requirements delay it. The business folks … are giving too high-level of requirements and not helping IT get an accurate sense of what is a nice-to-have and what is a must-have.”

Anthony Franco, president and co-founder of EffectiveUI, said his firm commissioned the study because “we wanted to confirm that the challenges we’ve seen internal development teams struggle with are consistent across the industry. They are the same challenges these teams have been facing for years, and we wanted to craft a new approach to recommend since what they’ve been doing has clearly not been working.”

According to the study, supporting business requirements and corporate growth is the top critical software priority for IT organizations over the next 12 months. However, only 20 percent of IT decision makers surveyed said they were very satisfied with the user experience of the customer-facing Web applications that are created in-house, and only 14 percent were very satisfied with their customer-facing mobile applications. Their business counterparts agree. The study shows that business’ satisfaction with IT is lower than 50 percent.

Despite this low level of satisfaction, only 25 percent of IT decision makers place top priority on updating and modernizing key legacy applications, and only 20 percent believe mobile to be of top importance on their list of priorities.

“In the study, the two things that trumped mobile as a priority are ‘support business requirements and growth’ and ‘update/modernize key legacy applications’–I think that until application teams have done those two things, they can’t get to a place where they are able to create useful, well-integrated mobile applications and experiences,” Franco told eWEEK.

60% of Enterprise App Teams Struggle to Keep Projects on Time: Study

According to the Technology Adoption Profile, which was conducted by Forrester Consulting and analyzes the survey results, this problem is not new: “Netted out, these obstacles have plagued enterprise application development teams for years,” Forrester said.

The profile suggests that “Integrated Thinking,” where decisions are made with several attributes in mind–business needs, processes, technology, architecture, integration, customer needs, experience and design–can simultaneously meet business goals and delight customers.

One survey respondent agreed, stating his company has an omni-channel team that manages mobile projects. “Having developers, marketing, business, etc., under one team has helped them move faster … they are doing well with their complex applications because of this organizational structure.”

The Technology Adoption Profile states that an “Integrated Thinking” approach may be the answer, as it encourages enterprise application development teams to look at the bigger picture and “combine and conquer” by taking responsibility, bringing the right people together and measuring every design decision against its impact on user experience.

Internal development teams should strive to understand the big picture and take responsibility for not only the creation of the application, but also the impact it has on the business.

“I don’t think we’ll ever get to a point where software development is nirvana,” Franco said. “The truth is that some teams won’t be able to pull this off without help. We’re advocating, in some circumstances, a de-prioritization of process and a re-prioritization of cross-discipline teams.”

Franco added, “The reality is, for this to work, there has to be an organizational shift toward meeting customer expectations–and that commitment usually has to come from the top down. But this shift can also be ignited with a spark from the application development team.”

Bringing together the right people to make informed decisions about design and technology is necessary, but can sometimes be a challenge with internal stakeholders, Forrester said in the study.

“We see this all the time,” Franco said in a statement. “Companies can be extremely challenged in getting all of their stakeholders on board with making design and technology decisions that benefit everyone’s interests–especially the customer or end user. This is where an outside team can be helpful–one that understands customer insight and design, but that also has a strong technical team and an understanding of business goals to help get everyone in line with the direction and execution of a digital project.”

Meanwhile, the user ultimately decides the success of an application based on their experience, and every decision made–whether technology, architecture or visual design–impacts that experience. 

The Integrated Thinking study can be downloaded here.

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