We all know that a lot of software development projects fail, in lots of different ways. But how many projects get killed without delivering anything at all? According to the Standish Group, these days about 20% of projects are flat failures. And that’s actually an improvement over the past 10 years or so.
In 1994, the [Standish Group] researchers found that 31 percent of the IT projects were flat failures. That is, they were abandoned before completion and produced nothing useful. Only about 16 percent of all projects were completely successful: delivering applications on time, within budget and with all the originally specified features.”
As of 2006, the absolute failure rate is down to 19 percent,” Johnson says. “The success rate is up to 35 percent.” The remaining 46 percent are what the Standish Group calls “challenged”: projects that didn’t meet the criteria for total success but delivered a useful product.