Factors of Success


You want your projects to be more successful, with higher value and greater customer satisfaction. For the last 20 years we have published the key Factors of Success. For the last 20 years we have also published the results of IT project performance. During that time period the results have been mixed. Some areas have improved while in other areas project costs have skyrocketed and success has been elusive. Since the very beginning of The Standish Group research on software project performance we have worked hard to identify the Factors of Success. We have performed countless workgroups, created feedback systems, and conducted case studies to try to identify why some software projects are successful and others are not. In this Factors of Success report for 2015 we outline our latest thinking and rank the Factors of Success by analyzing the CHAOS database in a number of different ways. For example, we examined the top 10% of organizations that had the highest success rates. Then we looked at how the bottom 10% of the organizations ranked in terms of the Factors of Success. We then looked at many other slices of the database. 

We studied projects deemed successful according to the traditional metrics of on time, on budget, and on target (the “triple constraints”). We also analyzed those same projects with our modern (alternative) metrics of on time, on budget, and with a satisfactory deliverable. We then examined projects labeled challenged by both our traditional definition and the modern definition and applied the modern metrics to them to see how they fared. We ranked, rated, and scored each of the Factors of Success. The failed project definition did not change as it is same for traditional and modern resolutions. In this particular year we did much more quantitative analyses to form our opinion. In prior years the CHAOS Factors of Success were much more qualitative.

The 2015 Factors of Success reflect our opinion of the importance of each attribute and our recommendation of the amount of effort and investment that should be considered to improve project success. It is clear to us that there are four primary investments you should focus on. So, if you want your projects to be more successful, with higher value and greater customer satisfaction, you should carefully consider where you invest your project improvement money. The 2015 Factors of Success report is available to members of our research service.



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About the Author:


Jim Johnson

Jim Johnson is chairman of The Standish Group. He has been professionally involved in the computer industry for over 40 years and has a long list of published books, papers, articles and speeches. He has a combination of technical, marketing, and research achievements focused on mission-critical applications and technology. He is best known for his research on project performance and early recognizing technology trends. Jim is a pioneer of modern research techniques and continues to advance in the research industry through case-based analytical technology.

Jim Crear

Jim is the chief information officer and architect for The Standish Group International. He is an experienced executive with over 40 years of experience in the field of Information Technology. He has had a diverse career leading IT organizations in academia, biomedical, manufacturing, and software companies.

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