2011 IT Project Success Rates Survey
The survey results are summarized in my November 2011
Dr. Dobb's Journal column
How Successful are IT Projects, Really?.
Some findings include:
- As you can see in Figure 1, Agile and Iterative
project teams have statistically identical success rates
- As you can see in Figure 1, ad-hoc project teams
(no defined process) and traditional project teams have lower success rates
that agile/iterative project teams
- Figure 2 compares the effectiveness of the five
paradigms for delivering in a timely manner, for providing good ROI, for
delivering value to the stakeholders, and for producing a quality product.
- When it comes to time/schedule, 20% prefer to deliver on time according
to the schedule, 26% prefer to deliver when the system is ready to be
shipped, and 51% say both are equally important
- When it comes to ROI, 15% prefer to deliver within budget, 60%
prefer to provide good return on investment (ROI), and 25% say both are
- When it comes to stakeholder value, 4% prefer to build the system to
specification and 80% prefer to meet the actual needs of stakeholders, and
16% say both are equally important
- When it comes to quality, 4% prefer to deliver on time and on budget
and 57% prefer to deliver high-quality, easy-to-maintain systems, and 40%
say both are equally important
- Only 12% of respondents indicated that their definition of success on
their most recent project included all three of delivering according to
schedule, within budget, and to the specification (answers where both was
indicated were included in this calculation).
Figure 1. Perceived IT project success rates by
Figure 2. Success factors by paradigm (Scale is from
-10 to +10).
You may use this data
as you see fit, but may not sell it in whole or in part.
You may publish summaries of the findings, but if you do
so you must reference the survey accordingly (include
the name and the URL to this page). Feel free to
with questions. Better yet, if you publish,
please let me know so I can link to your work.
- It's difficult to get a good estimate of project success rates because
there isn't a standard definition of success (nor will there ever be).
So, if I define success specifically, for example as "reasonably on time, on
budget, to specification" that definition will be applicable for some
projects but not others. So, I could presumably get an accurate
estimate of how well we're doing against that criteria but it wouldn't be
the actual industry success rate. If, however, I define allow people to
define success in terms of how it was defined for the actual projects then
I'll get a much more accurate estimate of project success rates but I won't
- This survey was huge, up to 50 questions, so the response rate was a bit
lower than usual.
- This was the first year we asked about lean, and we only had 40
respondents working in organizations applying lean techniques. So, the
lean results aren't statistically significant (although to be fair there's
been many academic papers published based on much smaller result sets).
- This survey suffers from the
fundamental challenges faced by all surveys.
Links to Other Articles/Surveys
- My other surveys
Why Share This Much Information?
I'm sharing the results, and in particular the source data, of my surveys for
- Other people can do a much better job of analysis than I can. If
they publish online, I am more than happy to include links to their
- Once I've published my column summarizing the data in DDJ, I really
don't have any reason not to share the information.
- Too many traditionalists out there like to use the "where's
the proof" question as an excuse not to adopt agile techniques. By
providing some evidence that a wide range of organizations seem to be
adopting these techniques maybe we can get them to rethink things a bit.
- I think that it's a good thing to do and I invite others to do the same.