Dr. Dobb's is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Channels ▼


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

Related Reading

More Insights

Currently we allow the following HTML tags in comments:

Single tags

These tags can be used alone and don't need an ending tag.

<br> Defines a single line break

<hr> Defines a horizontal line

Matching tags

These require an ending tag - e.g. <i>italic text</i>

<a> Defines an anchor

<b> Defines bold text

<big> Defines big text

<blockquote> Defines a long quotation

<caption> Defines a table caption

<cite> Defines a citation

<code> Defines computer code text

<em> Defines emphasized text

<fieldset> Defines a border around elements in a form

<h1> This is heading 1

<h2> This is heading 2

<h3> This is heading 3

<h4> This is heading 4

<h5> This is heading 5

<h6> This is heading 6

<i> Defines italic text

<p> Defines a paragraph

<pre> Defines preformatted text

<q> Defines a short quotation

<samp> Defines sample computer code text

<small> Defines small text

<span> Defines a section in a document

<s> Defines strikethrough text

<strike> Defines strikethrough text

<strong> Defines strong text

<sub> Defines subscripted text

<sup> Defines superscripted text

<u> Defines underlined text

Dr. Dobb's encourages readers to engage in spirited, healthy debate, including taking us to task. However, Dr. Dobb's moderates all comments posted to our site, and reserves the right to modify or remove any content that it determines to be derogatory, offensive, inflammatory, vulgar, irrelevant/off-topic, racist or obvious marketing or spam. Dr. Dobb's further reserves the right to disable the profile of any commenter participating in said activities.

Disqus Tips To upload an avatar photo, first complete your Disqus profile. | View the list of supported HTML tags you can use to style comments. | Please read our commenting policy.