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Imbalance Between Software And Civil Engineering

1628 words - 7 pages

While software development is a type of engineering, there is an apparent disparity between the percentages of engineering projects that fail and software engineering projects that fail. Statistically speaking major engineering project have a failure rate between 10% and 30% based on personal experience as a retired US Army civil engineer. That is in stark contrast to software engineering, where three years ago the failure rate for software development was bouncing around between 60% and 80% and today it is not much better. This paper will address why projects fail or the root cause of that failure. Then we will look at reviewing the twelve warning signs that identify trouble in a project. Finally we will look at best practices to prevent failure of software engineering projects. Keywords: software failure, technology project management, preventing software development failure.

As a United States Army Civil Engineer with over 20 years of project management experience and as the Construction Operations Sergeant supervised Task force Eagle in Bosnia, where 150 personnel constructed 5 projects totaling over 150 million dollars and making the transition from that career in engineering to a project server administrator and project manager for Microsoft, deploying their enterprise project management software globally for them, qualifies me to write this paper from firsthand experience, but I also have researched and provided documentation in support of these views also. Having an insider’s prospective on this subject which I love called project management has shown me different projects in civil engineering that have failed because of major mistakes. Major civil engineering project failure is 10 to 30% statistically and although I have never personally had a project failure and have always finished on time and under budget. This doesn’t compare though to IT project failure and software engineering, as it has the worst failure rate of any engineering discipline, at a whopping 60-80%. (Dolinsky, 2011a)
There are major failures in civil engineering and I’ll share one here with you now that I know of. How about the $30,000 dollar glulam beam which was cut short by three feet because the person measured it wrong! The project being in the Marshall Island chain on Kwajalein Atoll in the middle of the south pacific made it a two month wait on the project to finish because it took that long to get a new beam there by ship. Manly because the beam was 110 feet long and would not fit on a plane. The entire cost of getting the troops there was doubled and the list of costs escalated because of the mistake. Needless to say that construction platoon sergeant was looking for another job after that error. But this error and the many like it are small compared to the number of software engineering projects that fail. The fact that the different SDLC phases and methodologies that have been developed don’t seem to be changing the numbers is dismal. The percentages...

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