IBM has launched a range of products designed to bolster communications between business managers and techies in order to improve the quality of software projects.

According to research from the Standish Group, 41 percent of software products fail to meet their objectives or under-perform on the expected return on investment.

The centerpiece of IBM's Rational Quality Management Portfolio is the Rational Quality Manager. The company has described this as a collaborative "hub" designed to ensure IT professionals and business managers are on the same wavelength when it comes to the delivery and implementation of software products.

Based on IBM's open, Jazz technology platform, Rational Quality uses a web-based tool to aid this process.

Tony Grout, Rational software business value leader said that "quality had been kept in a little black box in the corner"

IBM is looking to get all interested parties, from CIO to business managers, involved in the development and testing process. The aim, said Grout, was not to leave it all to techies but to ensure that business managers had "a direct line of site into the testing process and can give immediate feedback rather than rely on Word or Excel documents being sent all over the place."

Grout said that business managers would have direct access to a dashboard so that they could monitor all aspects of the delivery process. "We're delivering much better, out-of-the box, business intelligence driven information," said Grout.

He said that a key aspect of the tool was that it could be used by companies employing different software development methodologies. "It could be used by companies using a classic waterfall process or by small, Agile teams," he said.

IBM has also introduced Rational Test Lab Manager, a web-based tool that helps companies reduce cost and increase energy savings by automating the testing process and ensuring an organisation is using its lab resources efficiently. Grout said that the test labs can be energy-intensive environments and until now companies had not really explored ways of conserving some of that energy as that could have a complex process. He said that the software would help managers calculate the savings more effectively.

The company is releasing several other products within the portfolio including Performance Analyzer, Functional Tester, Performance Tester and Service Tester for SOA Quality.