Government software applications are the hardest to change

Public sector applications are the most difficult and costly to change according to a report published today.

The appmarq report, from software quality benchmarking firm Cast, carried out analysis of 288 applications at 75 organisations across the UK.

The research looked at organisations in the following sectors: energy and utility, financial services, insurance, IT consulting, technology, telecom, manufacturing and public sector.

The report found public sector applications to be the most difficult and expensive to change

From the sample Cast found that the median public sector application changeability score is 25% lower than the highest changeability score, which is the IT consulting sector.

Additionally public sector application changeability is 11% lower than the second lowest changeability median score, which is the Insurance sector. Cast said the findings are only a guide and it cannot yet generalise this result to the entire portfolio of public sector applications.

The findings put into perspective the challenge facing the government’s cost cutting plans. New suppliers will need to change systems to support cost cutting.

The government outsources 75% of applicants compared to 50% in the private sector, says the report.

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Does this mean there is a direct link between outsourcing development and less maintainable code?

I would imagine IT consultancies do not outsource to their competitors and develop in-house.

I can imagine there is more motivation to produce maintainable systems if you have to live with them, and less motivation if the outsourcer can charge more and have longer contracts to fix systems.

Public sector projects also suffer from "Not Invented here" Syndrome i.e. they will refuse to consider using standard software solutions, sometimes even if they've already paid for them. So you end up re-inventing the wheel, but your public sector client will then insist that this wheel has to be square, because that's the way they've always done it. Of course the other factor is that public sector customers are often completely clueless/irresponsible about costs, so they usually end up paying way over the odds for any work anyway.