The Non-Existent Software Crisis: Debunking The Chaos Report
An alarmist report that's become a universal reference in discussion of development practices obscures a much less dire reality.
The software development success rate published in the Standish Group's Chaos Report is among the most commonly cited research in the IT industry. Since 1995, the Standish Group has reported rather abysmal statistics -- from a rate of roughly one in six projects succeeding in 1995 to roughly one in three projects today. Ever since the Chaos Report was published, various Chicken Littles have run around warning about how this "software crisis" will lead to imminent disaster. However, this supposed software crisis is complete and utter hogwash, it always has been and I suspect always will be. Sadly, that doesn't stop people who should know better, or at least should be able to think for themselves, to continue quoting this nonsense.
Since 2006, I have organized an almost-annual survey for Dr. Dobb's that explores the actual success rates of software development projects. The most recent was conducted in November and December of 2013 and had 173 respondents. The original questions as asked, the source data, and my analysis can be downloaded for free at 2013 IT Project Success Rates Survey results. The survey was announced on the Dr. Dobb's site, on the Ambysoft announcements list, my Twitter feed, and several LinkedIn discussion forums. The results of this study are much more positive than what the Standish Group claims. They still leave significant room for improvement, but they certainly don't point to a crisis.