Checklist of Software Project Management Problems and Possible Solutions

This checklist gives you an overview about typical project management problems and some hints how to solve them.

Software project management problems

  1. Planning for software engineering projects is generally poor.

  2. Procedures and techniques for the selection of project managers are poor.

  3. The accountability of many software engineering projects is poor, leaving some questions as to who is responsible for various project functions.

  4. The ability to accurately estimate the resources required to accomplish a software development project is poor.

  5. Success criteria for software development projects are frequently inappropriate. This results in software products that are unreliable, difficult to use, and difficult to maintain.

  6. Decision rules to aid in selecting the proper organizational structure are not available.

  7. Decision rules in selecting the correct management techniques for software engineering projects are not available.

  8. Procedures, methods, and techniques for designing a project control system that will enable project managers to successfully control their projects are not readily available.

  9. Standards and techniques for measuring the quality of performance and the quantity of production expected from programmers and data processing analysts are not available.

Some hints how to solve these problems

  1. Do some preliminary research to get internal and external statistics on software development. These data can be used to justify the following steps for senior management.

  2. Educate and train top managers, and software developers.

  3. Enforce the use of standards, review procedures, recommended techniques and documentation.

  4. Analyze data from prior software projects to determine effective methods.

  5. Define objectives in terms of quality desired.

  6. Define quality in terms of deliverables.

  7. Establish success priority criteria.

  8. Allow for contingencies.

  9. Establish a method for collection of software productivity data. Collection methods must be simple and require relatively little staff effort.

  10. Develop truthful, accurate cost and schedule estimates that are accepted by management and customer, and manage to them.

  11. Select project managers based on ability to manage software projects rather than on technical ability or availability.

  12. Make specific work assignments to software developers and apply job performance standards.

  13. Demand technical and management reviews; track progress carefully.

  14. Encourage critiques of methods and/or documentation format from development staff. All critiques should be accompanied by suggestion for improvement.

  15. At project completion, evaluate all information collected.


Fairley, R.E.: Software Engineering Concepts. McGraw-Hill Book Company, New York 1985.