“Seventy per cent of IT projects fail and one of the causes is poor management”
Software architects cannot survive on technical know-how alone, according to the International Association of Software Architects (IASA).
It said they also need to master soft skills, such as leadership and marketing, because these are necessary if they want to be successful in the business arena.
Aaron Tan Dani, IASA Asia-Pacific chairman, said the lack of soft skills among software architects can be detrimental to IT projects.
Aaron Tan Dani,
IASA Asia-Pacific Chairman
“Seventy per cent of IT projects fail and one of the causes is poor management,” he said, quoting a Gartner report.
An IT projects fails should a vendor deadlines, if the product does not live up to customer expectations, or the product is not user-friendly.
Many software architects, according to Dani, focus only on sharpening their technical skills.
“I have interviewed many (for jobs) and they all did well when asked to show their technical skills. But when I threw an everyday problem at them, they didn’t know what to do,” he said.
As a remedy, IASA believes that the curriculum taught in universities today needs to be changed, and intends to approach several local universities for discussion.
It has identified skill sets that need to be honed during the IT courses, such as developing business acumen, improving presentation skills, and leadership training.
“If you can’t present properly, you may not be able to sell your product and you can’t go far if you don’t know how to lead your team,” Dani said.
IASA said another problem it sees is that software architects are not getting the chance to employ their full capabilities in many organisations.
Many are seen as mere software engineers, and are used as such, according to Dani.
He said that developing a good IT product requires more than just logical engineering. Think of it this way; an engineer can build a bridge but it takes an architect to design one.
Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC), caretaker of the Multimedia Super Corridor Malaysia initiative, agrees with IASA on the curriculum change.
The change would be welcome but it will take at least 10 years to effect it, said Dan Khoo, a member of the MDeC board of directors.
Fortunately, he said, MDeC has a short-term plan to solve the soft-skill problem.
“MDeC’s finishing schools can help software architects acquire these soft skills,” Khoo said. This would be the quick fix while IASA works on getting the curriculum changed.
Also, employment prospects are good for those who attend these finishing schools, added Khoo.
Several industry players told In.Tech that IASA is spot-on in its assessment.
Steven Tai, Siemens Malaysia head of strategic marketing, believes software architects should also develop their communication skills. They must understand people the same way they understand computers, he said.
Abhrajit Bhattacharjee, EMC Corp communications manager, agreed with Tai. He said the more skills one has, the better the chance of success in the IT arena today.