Carmen Facciobene, who has worked in the technology industry for 25 years, says he thinks most software products are doomed to fail before reaching a single customer.

The problem, according to Facciobene, is that too few software companies find glitches and quirks during the development process. So Facciobene is intent on perfecting the process his Arlington start-up, Number Six Software Inc., uses to develop software.

Facciobene was a self-described "overpaid tech executive" when he was laid off by Rational Software Corp. in early 2001. After working on his golf game for several months, he cast his eye on a 15-person company that provided training in a variety of software development methods. In November 2001 Facciobene and a partner, with backing from McLean-based Blue Water Capital LLC, acquired a majority ownership in the small company.

The new management team quickly overhauled Number Six to focus on developing software instead of just teaching others about it. Today, most of its clients are large government agencies and corporations that need to update an old software system or automate business processes.

Working closely with clients is the only way to ensure that the software will be right, Facciobene said. So after sitting down with the customer, four- and five-person teams from Number Six are assigned to a project. Each is given a specific task, such as designing, programming and testing for trouble spots.

"We consider it like the ultimate team sport. You need a playbook, and you need people committed to executing against the playbook," Facciobene said. He acknowledges that there is plenty of competition in software development but says he's not worried. "There are a lot of companies that do it; there aren't that many companies that do it well."

In April, Number Six acquired Praxis Solutions, an Indianapolis firm that performs similar work. Terms were not disclosed. Facciobene said the 100-person company is planning to acquire three or four more small firms this year.

"We consider it like the ultimate team sport. You need a playbook and you need people committed to executing against the playbook," says chief executive Carmen Facciobene.