Results from a survey concerning 400 IT projects:

What were the surprises?

  • Most projects that had no schedule were successful
  • Requirements are needed for project success, but not necessarily early in the project
  • Projects often continue successfully for some time with unclear requirements
  • The choice of requirements methodology does not matter; UML was “no help”

Success/Failure Criteria: Some Surprises by Robert L. Glass – developer.*, Developer Dot Star

I find the results interesting. I’m not as surprised by the preceding points as the author (Robert Glass, whose excellent book Software Conflict 2.0 I’m currently reading). I won’t start a rant about UML. I think its best use is for sketching some ideas.

Software engineers should find the first point, projects with no schedule were successful, to be of particular interest. How many times have you heard the results from the Standish Group that says 75% of projects were unsuccessful, meaning that they were late and over budget? Is that a real failure of the project, or do we just suck at estimating?

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2 Responses to Software Project Success/Failure Criteria: Some Surprises by Robert L. Glass

  1. joelmig says:

    I guess you’re right and none of those failure projects had successful estimations. I think the most important think about what Glass said was being able to adapt to the project needs. Development methodology must be closely appropriate to the application, requirements gathered at the time the decisions need to be made and management tight to day-to-day objectives.

    Jeff Atwood recently blogged about estimations in an interesting way (here’s his last post about it:

  2. djief says:

    Interesting link. It reminded that I need to read Steve McConnell latest book on software estimation (I’ve read all his other books and they are all excellent. “Code Complete” and “Rapid Development” should probably be used in every software engineering curricula.)

    You need comments on your blog Joel. Now.

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