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Issue No. 03 - May/June (2005 vol. 22)
ISSN: 0740-7459
pp: 112, 110-111
Robert L. Glass , Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, USA
This is a closed-book quiz. Quick, now - what percentage of software projects fail? Let me hazard a guess as to your answer. Odds are, you said something like "70 percent." Am I right? Now, I want to analyze why you said whatever you said. A friend of mine, Nicholas Zvegintzov (the Chief Guru of software maintenance), likes to say that, if you track down the sources of the things we "know" in our field, you'll find that what we thought was a plethora of sources for that knowledge generally boils down to only a precious few. That raises the question "Where do we get our information on software failure rates?" I've seen software failure trumpeted from so many academic research papers that I had to quit counting (they tend to see a "software crisis" and then say that the research work they're describing will help eliminate it). However, if you closely examine the citations they use to support the claims of crisis, over and over again the citations boil down to one primary source, the Standish Chaos Reports. And, if you take matters one step further, the papers generally cite the 1994 report. I want to question the unquestionable status of that Standish report. That's because, you see, my own observations lead me to believe that something is terribly wrong with those Standish findings.
Chaos, Horses, Mouth, Cost function, Scheduling, US Government, Software engineering, Guidelines

R. L. Glass, "IT Failure Rates - 70% or 10-15%?," in IEEE Software, vol. 22, no. , pp. 112, 110-111, 2005.
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