Posted by: ahmedashfaque | August 16, 2012

Variability on software projects and impact on software professionals – part 2


Continuing our discussion from part 1 of this article, let us discuss the concept of mass servicing of projects.

To understand mass servicing of projects better let us first discuss the concept of mass manufacturing. Mass manufacturing of products is a well known and understood phenomenon. In industries where continuous production of same kinds of products is possible, a strategy is adopted to reduce production costs by increasing productivity of resources including that of machines and men working in the production department. This increase in productivity is achieved by reducing set up time of machines, idle time of machines and reducing scrap generation of products. This increase in productivity in turn reduces production costs.

Mass manufacturing concept is tied with the idea of producing large number of same product through a production line and keeping unproductive activities like machine downtime, set up time, idle time etc. to the barest minimum. This results in setting up of different production lines for different types of products and setting up of center of excellence. This in turn ensures that same kinds of activities related to production are grouped together, resulting in efficiency of operations and improving productivity.

This same concept of mass manufacturing can be applied to services. Same kinds of activities can be grouped so that efficiency can be achieved in service operations and productivity can be improved. In software industry, where people are the only asset in producing software products (there are no machines used), efficiency can be achieved if similar project activities and software production activities can be grouped together across different projects. Then these grouped activities can be performed through mechanisms like center of excellence. For instance, we can have center of excellence for software testing activities, software design activities etc. this means that we can have a pool of software architects who will architect software products across many projects. We can have similar pool of software professionals doing group activities.

This kind of set up indeed results in manifold increase in productivity and achieves improved efficiency. The requirement for this scenario is that the company which has created these center of excellence should have a large number of similar projects.

In such a scenario, what could be the impact on software professionals? the most profound impact is that it reduces creativity on the part of the software professionals. Software development after all is a very creative activity. Reduction in creativity will result in developing innovative software products. This may also result in dissatisfaction among software professionals.

But not all software products need to be innovative. In fact, a large number of software development projects these days do not require a high level of innovation. On those projects these concepts of mass servicing can be easily applied. Reduction in costs of software development will result in higher rate of adoption of software products by customers. Which will result in higher growth and revenues for the industry. This will result in more employment opportunities for software professionals. More employment opportunities will also result in reduction of bench time for software professionals which in turn will ensure a better pay for them.

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