Time + Budget ≠ Success

"How long will it take and how much is it going to cost?" Anyone who has ever worked in the software development space has had that question lobbed at them numerous times. And while the answers are important, they may not have as much of a bearing on whether or not the software product in question actually goes on to provide tangible business outcomes as one might think.

The time/budget factor of the Product Development Success study indicates that companies need to have a certain degree of underlying accountability to budgets and timelines while working on new software product development. The relatively low importance of this factor as compared to the others, however, shows that an excessive focus on time and budget metrics is likely to take away from other key inputs needed for successful software product development. In the weighting of the factors, time/budget focus was only found to account for 5% of product development success.

All in all, companies fared worse on time/budget focus than they did on any other factor identified by the Product Development Success study. The average score of 63 in this area falls well short of the overall mark of 73. Respondents received an aggregate score of 68 for the attribute, "Success on a project is primarily judged by the degree to which it is completed on time," a 66 on the attribute, "Success on a project is primarily judged by the degree to which it is completed on budget," and a 56 on the attribute "Priorities are set at the beginning of the year and rarely changed."

Overall, however, given the relatively low importance of this factor, it should not be of paramount importance to those with decision-making authority in product development disciplines. The main takeaway from the time and budget factor is that companies should have someone monitoring deadlines and budgets of development projects but allow for flexibility that contributes to other, more important aspects of the PDSI, such as culture. Focusing too much on time and budget to the detriment of other factors is likely to lower a company’s overall PDSI score.

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