Richard Bucker

Response to 2011 IT Project Success Rates Survey Results

Posted at — Dec 1, 2011

In a recent post 2011 IT Project Success Rates Survey Results the author posted some results from a survey and the contents had been discussed in a Dr Dobbs article which clearly provided some credibility. However the results and the conclusion almost had me fooled.In summary when comparing iterative, agile, lean, ad-hoc and traditional project teams… Agile scored equal or better than the other project team types.I expected this result because I was directed to the article by someone I trust and highly recommend as an Agile professional. But when I got to the bottom of the article I realized that it was not an authentic research report.From the information given I conclude that the survey and it’s conclusion were biased. a) because the respondents were contacted via methods relative to the author:This survey was performed during the last two weeks of October and there was 178 respondents.  The survey was announced in my October 2011 DDJ column, my DDJ blog, on the Ambysoft announcements list, my Twitter feed, and several LinkedIn discussion forums (IASA, TDWI, Enterprise Architecture Network, Greater IBM connection, and Considerate Enterprise Architecture Group).b) after reading the survey (I’m not a survey expert) but the contents of the survey assume that all of the respondents have experience in all of the project team types (which I find unlikely) and the questions that are pro-Agile scream “I am agile”.c) more bad news about the survey; the questions were subjective and they gave the respondent to guess at the various success rates. I have never worked for or heard of a company keeping statistics on the success or failure of projects with the management style.Who is this article good for? Someone with a vested interest in Agile. Someone who wants to bring Agile to their company because it’s new and cool. Think of it as if drug companies did their own FDA trials. Not a good idea! The author’s company provides agile services.So if you want to prove that Agile is a good thing then you need unbiased and random respondents and not your circle of friends. Which is to say that the article is not a total FAIL but it demonstrates the need to capture real metrics on the different project team types and their successes. But it has to be performed in a clinical way and not ad-hoc by people with a vested interest in one method over the other.