Beating the Odds: How to Build and Implement Successful Software Systems

By Warren S. Reid © 2006-2015 All Rights Reserved

All large systems project failures happen for the same set of reasons. The latest IT Standish Group's "Chaos Report" shows that software success is relatively rare:

  •  30% of software projects fail (i.e., never implemented or quickly shelved)
  •  30% are successful
  •  40% are "challenged" projects (i.e., on average these projects are completed/installed 75% over schedule, 59% over estimated cost, and deliver only 69% of the "promised" features).  Oftentimes, the duration & cost overruns on failed projects are 200-300% or more!

The development and acceptance of large-scale software systems is one of the most difficult challenges of the modern era. With today's more comprehensive, complex and interfaced platforms and apps, Project Managers now not only balance and make trade-offs regarding Cost, Schedule and Scope, but ALSO Risk, Quality, and Stakeholder Expectations – the 6 Balancing Elements (re business needs as well as user, departmental, trading partner, performance, operations and maintenance needs). Changing one area results in changes/trade-offs with the others, sometimes upsetting the whole project balance and affecting a successful release.

While the 30% success metric hasn't changed much over the past 25 years, it can be substantially improved if the IT industry learns from its history, embraces and enforces best industry standards, and follows the following prescription used by successful systems builders, management and projects.

In litigation, Users/Customers and Vendors/Integrators claim people, project, product and process failures were caused by the other side. It's the same all over the world. For a graphic breakdown of accusations leveled, please go to:

The above thoughts, considerations, lessons, and recommendations are incomplete as necessitated by space limitations. For more complete thoughts and ideas visit our website at for articles, graphics, and presentations on this topic.

Contact Warren Reid at 818-986-8842 or e-mail: for a free consultation or for more information.