Appendix A

The State of the Practice in Software Management

Three important analyses performed in the mid-1990s yielded similar insights into the state of the software engineering industry. They concluded that the success rate for software projects is very low. This appendix summarizes the results of those analyses.

Patterns of Software Systems Failure and Success

Key Points

▲ Many software industry management practices in the 1990s still reflect an immature process characterized by excessive scrap and rework.

▲ About 10% of conventional projects succeed, where success is defined as meeting the customer's expectations in cost, schedule, quality, and feature set and making a profit.

▲ Software management factors are the primary discriminators of project success and failure.

This book [Jones, 1996] is a thorough presentation of the state of the software industry. Jones analyzed the results of thousands of projects grouped into six subindustries: systems software, information systems, commercial software, outsource software, military software, and end-user software. Table A-l summarizes his overall assessment of the root causes of software project success and failure.

Jones makes an interesting observation about this table:

It is both interesting and significant that the first six out of sixteen [sic] technology factors associated with software disasters are specific failures in the domain of project management, and three of the other technology deficiencies can be indirectly assigned to poor management practices.

Jones also identifies the cultural and people factors that discriminate successful projects from failures. These are presented in Table A-2.

Table A-l. Technologies used on software projects

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