Why are Software Projects Disaster Prone?- An Explanation

We have all heard it before -> Software projects (included in here are development and complex implementations) more often than not fail disastrously.

Research companies make huge money analysing why this is occurs, consultant companies have divisions that “specialise” in preventing it to happen, project management as a profession constantly battles the stigma and yet these projects fail.

Trying not to be whining – WHY? WHY? WHY?

The answer is pretty simple:

Really (suspend disbelief here).


Everybody has different exposures in life, at different times and in different places.

From my previous posting (Project Management – What’s it about?) and many many other people we all know that one of the most critical elements to project success revolves around the area of deliverables and scope (what the project is supposed to deliver).

At the moment I am exposed to multiple instances where MASSIVE projects are being scoped (many companies – more than 200) and more than one team attempting to scope (not the same product or industry). The other element that is different between these teams is that one group of teams are scoping implementation of enterprise level configured solutions (with some “minor” tweaks) and the other groups are getting down to developing software from scratch.

A strange similarity has just emerged.

Not one of these teams can accurately pinpoint the deliverable.

Now this should activate alarm bells, sirens and make hair stand on end.

Yet these guys proceed (without exception) as “normal”.

Everybody is so used to it.

The biggest question in the universe

What I found surprising was how simple the answer was.

Nobody can see into the future.

We try different things to narrow this down. Look at the present, explore the past, get trends, extrapolate and many other techniques.

But sometimes we have to understand that a company has to “guess” what their clients would want 5 years from now to allow the software architects some frame of reference to start building the system of tomorrow. Similarly, the implementation team and the client business have to “guess” what would be the more important features to sustain their business going forward.


Software projects present a clear problem to everybody involved. Because it is so well-known, nobody gives it a second glance. What is strange though is NOBODY remembers this idiosyncrasy when the project (almost inevitably) fails.

How weird is that?

Have a fantastic day!!!


One thought on “Why are Software Projects Disaster Prone?- An Explanation

  1. Hi,

    If you want a thrilling read about why software projects fail, try Dreaming in Code, it sums up everything I have seen in the last 20 years and after you finish reading it, you can download the software and see how bad it is.


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