Book Review: Maximizing ROI on Software Development by Vijay Sikka

Maximizing ROI on Software Development by Vijay Sikka

Author: Vijay Sikka
Publisher: Auerbach Publications
ISBN: 0849323126
Published: October 2004
Page count: 280 pages
Cover price: US$79.95


In Maximizing ROI on Software Development, Vijay Sikka provides for those who lack it, a business perspective on software development.

Chapter 1 - A Brief Review of Software Development History

The first chapter is essentially a survey course in the ghosts of software methodologies past and present - from a light coverage of classic software development methodologies (such as waterfall and spiral) to a deeper coverage of evolving software methodologies (such as agile methodologies and model-driven architecture). Including a discussion of Web services development seemed a bit odd in the context of cataloging software methodologies, but the discussion is limited. Readers who are familiar with the popular assortment of software methodologies may find this chapter tedious. In my opinion, this chapter could've been an appendix.

Chapter 2 - Software Complexity Crisis

In this chapter (which I think would’ve made a better Chapter 1), Sikka paints the landscape of software development today with a focus on its growing complexity and challenges. He then considers the changing development landscape and how it necessitates a diversity in methodologies, technologies, and tools. He also acknowledges the growing dominance of .NET and J2EE for enterprise software development. Following a discussion of software maturity models, he then addresses the standard objections (excuses) people offer when the subject of software ROI is raised, and then discusses the benefits of software ROI analysis. The chapter ends with steps to prepare for an ROI analysis and a cautionary list of common mistakes. The last third of this chapter (section 2.4) is loaded with useful info and worthy of a second read.

Chapter 3 - Software Development ROI

While Chapter 2 ended with a brief intro to software ROI, Chapter 3 is where Sikka provides the details in what is a core chapter of this book. He devotes a hefty section each to baseline ROI and applied ROI. The section on applied ROI includes a discussion of TCO and how it factors into the puzzle. Towards the end of this section, the subject of software methodologies is woven back into the story and their value to ROI. The chapter ends with a discussion of those things that make ROI difficult to quantify. All in all, this chapter most closely met my expectations for this book. If you found yourself speeding through the first two chapters, you'll probably want to slow down when you reach this one to fully absorb it.

Chapter 4 - The Case for Global Software Development and Testing

This chapter pushes the reality that is global software development. After reading the last two chapters, it becomes more painfully obvious why companies are pursuing global solutions to the expense of software development. The author does not attempt to disguise his enthusiasm for offshore software development and testing. To those who have experienced the shifting of work offshore, this chapter will be a difficult one to embrace. My disappointment in this chapter is that the author focuses on the benefits and only addresses the cons by providing advice on how to succeed with offshoring.

Chapter 5 - Software Quality and Test ROI

Whereas Chapter 3 provides a solid understanding of software ROI, this chapter brings ROI to the software development team by addressing how members of that team can contribute to software ROI. If you ever needed help selling your organization on the value of software testing and the need for software testers, this chapter is your friend. It helps articulate the value of software testing in terms familiar to the "suits". There's even a thorough section on software training ROI, which will come in handy the next time you want to attend TechEd or PDC (shameless plug).

Chapter 6 - How Do You Implement Global Software Development and Testing

As with Chapter 4, this chapter focuses on global software development. Essentially, Chapter 6 is to Chapter 4 what Chapter 5 is to Chapter 3 - it is the practical application of the ideas presented in Chapter 4. If Chapter 4 was valuable to you, you owe it to yourself to read this chapter as well.

Chapter 7 - Case Studies

The case studies chapter contains a pair of case studies that examine two situations where cosourcing in one case, and offshoring in another, were used to realize significant ROI savings. Of course, as with any case study, your mileage may vary. Tucked in the back of this chapter is a full summary of the book, which would've made a great concluding chapter of its own. I think I would've relegated the case studies to appendices, but that's just my opinion.

Appendix A - The Quality Assurance and Testing Process

The only appendix in the book, Appendix A is a collection of diagrams that drill into the Plan-Inspect-Test-Certify testing process.


Overall, sections of this book are likely to be read multiple times since they will stand the tests of time and shifting technologies. I received my copy early this year and I have revisited Chapters 2, 3 and 5 on several occasions. Considering the potential ROI of a software book with a long shelf life, it is well worth the relatively more expensive list price when compared with the cost of most books that software developers purchase in the US$30 – US$50 range.

Full disclosure – I received a free copy of this book in exchange for its review.

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