Everyone in project management has probably heard of or perhaps even quoted the Chaos study, conducted every two years by the Standish Group which repeatedly concludes that IT projects have an amazingly low rate of success.
Finally we anticipate clearer skies ahead because the newest Chaos study finds that IT project success rates are slightly better compared to the success rates in previous years. They cite stronger awareness of project management in general and higher project management maturity in companies as the reasons for greater project success. Improved risk management is an additional factor for greater project success.
Another aspect of better project success might be that the projects that were analyzed in the current study are typically smaller compared to those in previous studies and therefore they may be less complex and easier to manage. The current economic crisis is probably related to project size, as companies don’t want to embark on huge and riskier projects but rather implement smaller, more manageable and consequently more successful projects.
Use of agile methodologies may also be a factor in why IT projects are more successful although it is probably too early to tell. We should wait until the next study is released where the methodology used on the project would be taken into account and thus more relevant conclusions could be drawn.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. While the current Chaos study finds that project success rates have increased from 32% to 37% and project failure rates decreased from 24% to 21% we shouldn’t only focus on the positive trends. The success rate of IT projects is still only 37% which allows plenty of room for improvement and many opportunities to increase project success rates in the future.