Forrester Study Reveals Disconnect Between Business and Software Development

Companies are increasingly depending on custom software development projects to give them a competitive edge, but business leaders are still frustrated with the results of such initiatives, a new Forrester Consulting study concludes.

"Software development teams and their providers can't deliver new solutions at the rate business leaders want," states the study titled "Continuous Delivery: A Maturity Assessment Model," commissioned by ThoughtWorks, a software company that champions the continuous delivery model. The report requires registration to download.

ThoughtWorks commissioned the survey of 325 business and IT professionals in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia "to evaluate whether their current software delivery processes were sufficient to meet the relentless demand for innovation."

Highlighting the disconnect between business expectations and software development results is the finding that even though 51 percent of business leaders expect projects to be delivered within six months, 70 percent said it actually takes longer than that. In fact, some 40 percent said it takes more than a year for IT departments to produce solutions to support innovative ideas.

"This speed gap keeps businesses from using their software development capability to disrupt markets by introducing new products or features first," the study said. "Instead, these businesses spend their time following industry trends--reacting to the market instead of shaping the playing field."

A major impediment to more successful software development projects is a corporate culture that results in a lack of collaboration because business executives view the IT departments as "order takers," a view disputed by IT leaders.

Only 14 percent of business decision-makers viewed their software development providers as driving technology innovation, while 42 percent said the IT/engineering departments act as a service, merely responding to requests, and 43 percent said the two departments work together to decide which buiness services or products are delivered. On the other hand, 59 percent of IT/engineering leaders said they collaborate with their business peers and 57 percent said IT acts as partners and makes joint decisions with business stakeholders.

Forrester's key findings include:

  • Companies are looking to prioritize innovation through developing software services.
  • Software development providers can’t deliver new services at the rate business leaders want.
  • Corporate culture and development process immaturity impede communication and slow service delivery.
  • Few IT organizations regularly perform advanced continuous delivery practices.

Key recommendations to improve the situation include:

  • Development teams must speed up their rate of service delivery.
  • Business leaders and IT leaders need to improve their collaboration.
  • Agile practices are a good start, but they are not sufficient.
  • As teams get better at continuous delivery, development gets easier.

"If your teams are not at level 4 on the continuous delivery maturity model, you should plan on how you’ll get there as soon as possible," the report said.

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.