10 mistakes to avoid in software development

Forrester Research published this week a report listing 10 mistakes that send software development projects off track.

Noting that projects can get in serious trouble or fail even when effective project management is in place, Forrester analysts said projects are doomed by mistakes made at inception, not during execution.

"These types of mistakes create unfavorable conditions that even impeccable project management practices cannot overcome," the report states in its summary.

The 10 mistakes that put projects at risk of failure include:

* Never committing to project success.

* Freezing the schedule and budget before a project is sufficiently understood.

* Overscoping a solution.

* Circumventing the application development organization altogether.

* Underestimating the complexity of a problem.

* Being stingy with subject-matter experts, in which their participation is not sufficient.

* Choosing the wrong project leadership.

* Distrusting managers who have had tasks delegated to them.

* Jumping into development without enough research.

* Suppressing bad news, in which dialogue is insufficient.

Forrester recommends that a project be viewed in how it could unfold rather than how it should unfold. Application development personnel can enlarge dialogue with the business to include not only what to do but what to avoid. The 10 mistakes should be treated as risks to be managed. There should be a partnership with the business to assess time and cost penalties a project would incur if any of these mistakes were made.

"The costliest risks are the ones to work hardest at avoiding," Forrester said.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.