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Defining Success


Success Is in the Eye of the Beholder

I believe that there are several important lessons to be taken away from this survey. First and foremost, IT project teams enjoy a higher success rate than what we're commonly told. Second, it appears that organizations have their own definition of success, and perhaps even different definitions for different types of projects. Third, Agile software development techniques appear to enjoy a measurably greater success rate than traditional or offshoring projects. Fourth, because we're nowhere near a 100-percent success rate there is still room for improvement. The implication is that software process improvement (SPI) efforts are something that we need to invest in.

I have posted the original survey questions, the source data from the survey (with identifying information removed), and a PowerPoint slide deck summarizing the results at www.ambysoft.com/surveys/ success2007.html. Please take advantage of these resources.

Survey Respondents

The survey was announced on the Dr. Dobb's Report newsletter the last week of August 2007, ran for the entire week, and received 586 responses. As usual, the respondents were fairly senior and they worked for a range of organization size:

  • 73% had 10 or more years of experience in IT
  • 69% were North American
  • 18% were European
  • 84% worked for commercial/private firms
  • 16% worked for government agencies

People's positions were varied, although the majority (53.8 percent) indicated that they were developer/modelers. The number of respondents by position:

  • Business stakeholder: 18
  • NonManagement IT(below)
  •   Data professional: 22
  •   Developer/modeler: 315
  •   Operations/Support: 10
  • QA/Test: 17
  • IT Manager: 68
  • Project Manager: 105
  • Other: 31
—S.W.A.


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