March 10, 2015

Culture, More Than Know-how, Drives Software Production

SMITH BRAIN TRUST -- Technological know-how is great, but workplace culture is the most critical factor to success in software production, according to a new study supported by the Center for Excellence in Service at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business University. The center has supported software developer 3Pillar Global in creating what the company is calling an industry-first Product Development Success Index.

The study, based on a survey of more than 200 professionals responsible for software product development within their companies, found that the benefits of a strong workplace culture include the ability to attract and retain top talent and provide career growth and appropriate recognition. Survey respondents represented numerous industries, including business services, education, financial services, healthcare, health and wellness, hospitality, information services, media and entertainment, technology, and telecommunications. All respondents have decision-making responsibilities for new software product development projects and work for companies with at least $1 million in annual revenue.

“This index provides businesses with a tool for measuring and analyzing their approach to software development, resulting in a more successful team and product,” said Sunil Mithas, Smith professor of information systems. “More and more companies are recognizing that software products can create touch points with their customers that had not previously been possible.” The study found that the following priorities, starting with culture, are critical to product development success:

Culture: Employees must truly believe that their contributions are valued at the organization and feel as though they have room to grow.

Communication: Information needs to flow within teams and across organizational levels. Highly siloed entities with restricted communication are likely to struggle in product development and innovation.

Feedback: This includes listening to customers. By gathering and incorporating feedback throughout development, companies will improve their likelihood of creating a successful software product. 

“With nearly a decade of experience in software product development strategy and execution, we know what drives a successful project and we sought out the concrete data to back up our approach," said David DeWolf, president and CEO of 3Pillar Global. "Enter the Product Development Success Index. This study has confirmed a lot of what we know, but more importantly revealed how essential the softer components -– such as culture, communication and feedback -– are to successful product development.”


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About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and flex MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, business master’s, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.

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