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The slippery path to productivity improvement

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1 Author(s)
Abdel-Hamid, T.K. ; Dept. of Syst. Manage., Naval Postgraduate Sch., Monterey, CA, USA

Productivity tools simply aren't delivering increased productivity even when a project is managed “by the book”. It is demonstrated that there may be more systemic, albeit counterintuitive, causes for the “productivity paradox”. Specifically, the productivity potential of software engineering tools may be squandered not because organizations fail to institute the necessary managerial practices but because the software development environment is a complex social system that causes such practices to have unintended consequences. To support this view, the author uses a system dynamics microworld of the software development process to simulate the long term productivity trend in a a hypothetical project environment managed “by-the-book”. The microworld lets the project team examine possible causes one by one through controlled experimentation and hence allows them to discern true causal relationships in a failed project. The results indicate productivity erosion was unintentionally accelerated by perfectly “good” planning and control practices

Published in:

Software, IEEE  (Volume:13 ,  Issue: 4 )