Glass – Standish Chaos Report

Communications of the ACM, October 2006

Robert L. Glass The Standish Report: Does It Really Describe a Software Crisis?

Most academic papers and guru reports cite the same source for their crisis concern—a study published by the Standish Group more than a decade ago, a study that reported huge failure rates, 70% or more, and minuscule success rates, a study that condemned software practice by the title they employed for the published version of their study, The Chaos Report.
So the Standish Chaos Report could be considered fundamental to most claims of crisis.

Several researchers, interested in pursuing the origins of this key data, have contacted Standish and asked for a description of their research process, a summary of their latest findings, and in general a scholarly discussion of the validity of the findings. They raise those issues because most research studies conducted by academic and industry researchers arrive at data largely inconsistent with the Standish findings.

Let me say that again. Objective research study findings do not, in general, support those
Standish conclusions.

Standish, please tell us whether the data we have all been quoting for more than a decade really means what some have been saying it means. It is too important a topic to have such a high degree of uncertainty associated with it.

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