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Secrets of Software Success: Management Insights from 100 Software Firms Around the World Hardcover – October 10, 1999

ISBN-13: 978-1578511051 ISBN-10: 1578511054 Edition: First ediito

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press; First ediito edition (October 10, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1578511054
  • ISBN-13: 978-1578511051
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,928,162 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In Secrets of Software Success, Detlev Hoch, with Cyriac Roeding, Gert Purkert, and Sandro Lindner, look at what's driving the prosperity of the world's best software companies and what's responsible for the failure of others. The authors, who are consultants with McKinsey & Co. in Germany, visited nearly 100 software firms around the globe and conducted 450 in-depth interviews with executives. The result is a book loaded with sharp insights and colorful anecdotes from leaders of companies such as Microsoft Germany, Keane Inc., BroadVision, Andersen Consulting, Oracle, Sun Microsystems, and Navision in Denmark. "The opportunities for success in this industry remain strong," they conclude. "But the price of change brings new challenges and uncertainties. Neglecting these challenges could be a deadly mistake: Falling behind in the software industry, after all, almost certainly means failure."

In separate chapters, the authors examine the importance of leadership, the keys to developing and marketing software, winning the war for software talent, cementing partnerships for growth, and the shape of the future of this rapidly changing industry. Some of their findings are contrary to common belief. For example, software developers' and managers' disdain for rigid procedures is well known, but what the authors find is that morale and creativity actually rise with tighter rules that create better products and cut development time. Other conclusions are reinforcing; for example, the most successful companies team up with four times as many other firms as the less successful ones. Written in a lively, conversational style, Secrets of Software Success should be on the bookshelf of anyone connected to the software business. --Dan Ring

From Booklist

Researchers and theoreticians no longer look to the factory floor or the assembly line for management models. Instead, they have turned to such companies as Microsoft, Netscape, and Yahoo to gain new understanding of how organizations work most effectively and how employees can be most productive. Such recent books as Karen Southwick's Silicon Gold Rush: The Next Generation of High-Tech Stars Rewrites the Rules of Business (1999) and Rama Dev Jager and Rafael Ortiz's In the Company of Giants: Candid Conversations with the Visionaries of Cyberspace (1997) profile software companies to show how business and management have been transformed. Now four consultants working for McKinsey and Co. in Germany present the results of a comprehensive survey of 100 software companies and 450 executives from around the world that identify the industry's "best practices." The authors distinguish three industry segments (mass-market packaged software, enterprise solutions software, and professional software services) and outline challenges and appropriate responses within each. David Rouse

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By aaphilip on May 20, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As I read through the book, I kept waiting for the authors to unveil a secret to software success. As I reached the halfway point it occurred to me that there would be none. At least not for anyone that is already in the business. To set expectations, this book would be better suited to a reader from outside the industry.
For these readers, this well-written report adeptly summarizes knowledge gained from previously printed materials and personal interviews with the people that matter. Unfortunately, this access may have come at a price. The authors gloss over failures and accent the positive moves by these companies to such an extent that the reader may come away with a success-biased view of the software development business.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By "xxxxxxxxxx" on April 8, 2000
Format: Hardcover
What does it take to thrive in an industry where "more than 60% of companies that make it to IPO eventually go bankrupt or create very little value"? Five young German business consultants decided they needed to know urgently, and have come up with some original conclusions. Not only are the winners significantly different from the also-rans, they are significantly different from successful companies in other industries. The book reads as though the the five authors split up the task of the book between them, and some sections are stronger than others. Whoever did the hard research and formed the major conclusions did a thorough and superb job - the reason for the five stars. The chapter on the technical aspects of producing good products were mostly derivative of Steve McConnell (" Software Project Survival Guide") and Fred Brooks ("Mythical Man Month"). The section on what it takes to attract good employees bordered on the silly, and the thumbnail sketches of such corporations as SAP, Baan and Platinum were uncritical to the point of reading like recruiting brochures. Who would I recommend the book to? Certainly, anybody who's thinking of starting a software company. I'd also recommend it to anyone wanting to invest in hi-tech, and any software professional who's job-hunting. Personally, I'm going to mail my copy to Judge Penfield Jackson.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 25, 2000
Format: Hardcover
"Secrets of.." reflects a lot of work by the four authors.
Unfortunately a lot of information is repeated throughout several chapters, which make reading the book from front to end a bit strenuous.
While the collection of data is impressive and the message is clear, the book lacks what I expected from it: a quantitative yardstick to evaluate the players in the software products market and the software service companies.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 4, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The McKinsey team does an excellent job of identifying what it takes to succeed as a software company. A good first read for anyone wanting to get into the software industry, Secrets of Software Success could be rather repetitive and too simplistic for industry veterans as they spend a lot of time covering the basics. Nevertheless, I read it cover-to-cover in less than 10 days and have purchased copies for other members of our team.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Eric Antonow on April 26, 2000
Format: Hardcover
For such a critical area of business there are very few good books written on the software industry. 'Secrets' gives some annecdotal insights, a decent point-of-view, but is by no means a great overview of the industry. It very much feels like this book was thrown together by a team and lacked editorial or conceptual focus. Nonetheless, it deserves a relative four stars because there is nothing else better (if you know of something, please email me antonow@yahoo.com.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Prof David T Wright on June 14, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Written by a team from McKinsey following several man years interviews and analysis, `Success' highlights business success factors through 100s of facts, quotes and anecdotes.
The positively presented chapters span:
* It's like riding a bull- some historical innovation, software in aerospace, cars & health, software industry overview, and research scope & methodology.
* A new business called "software"- IT segmentation & evolution (mass products, enterprise solutions and professional services), volume vs productization chart, and market issues.
* Exceptional software leaders are the rule- characteristics (visionaries, risk-takers, dynamic, create teams with talent).
* Winning the war for software talent- recruiting (partner with universities, hiring workshops, internal referrals, freebies, learning), and issues of staff churn.
* Software development: completing a mission impossible- good processes (clarify requirements, structured approach, quality control, reusable components, daily build, communication)
* Marketing gods make software kings- law of increasing returns for being leader, good processes (customer segmentation, aggressive adventurist PR, value rather than technical approach), building trust for services (host conferences, discussion circles, online communities, trade & white papers/books), risk-sharing contracts, and life-time customer value.
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