Correct to make changes to software development projects

Among the many government agencies' lapses highlighted by the Auditor-General's Office, the one that caught my eye was the report that the Ministry of Health made 32 changes to contracts for 10 projects after the projects were completed or had started (Auditor-General raps government agencies for lapses; July 19).

It was not clear how many of these projects were related to the development of software systems.

It would not be an appropriate measurement if changes to software requirements are considered lapses.

The software industry has long moved away from the practice of specifying all details upfront before embarking on any software development project.

Instead, software and its specifications should be developed over a number of short iterations.

During each iteration, new functionality is demonstrated to stakeholders for feedback so that changes can be made in subsequent iterations.

This well-adopted practice is called Agile Software Development, and it ensures that the software built is fit for its purpose.

This practice also reduces wastage due to unused features, software defects, delays and so on.

To achieve our Smart Nation goals, the Singapore Government should specify and build software in an iterative manner, rather than be constantly bogged down by inappropriate measurements of corporate governance.

Er Chiang Kai

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 25, 2017, with the headline 'Correct to make changes to software development projects'. Print Edition | Subscribe