Monday, March 26, 2007

Application development is getting better

As regular readers may have noticed the state of the application development industry has driven me to despair recently (27 January).  But it appears I am wrong.


According to this report of a report in the Software Development Times things are getting.  The report in question – that is the one with the data, not the report of the report (don’t you just love journalists?) – is a new report from the Standish Group.  These are the people who produced the Chaos report in 1994.


You can read the 1994 report for free but the 2007 one is going to cost you, prices seem to start at $500.  I’d love to read the report but I can’t justify $500 right now.


Anyway, Software Development Times already offers the key findings:



  • 35% of projects started in 2006 are considered successes – up from 16.2% 12 years ago.

  • Project failures are down to 19% in 2006 compared to over 31% in 1994.

(For the moment we will accept the definitions of success and failure.)


And the reason for this change?  Well I’m sure the $500 report gives many, personally my money is on the move to Agile development methods.  The SD Times gives us three:



  • Iterative development

  • Better Project management

  • Web infrastructure

Iterative development fits with my hypothesis.  Better project management, well we’d have to know whether they mean more project managers using Agile like techniques or whether PRINCE2 is finally about to save the world.  No prizes for guessing what I think.


And the web infrastructure?  Well, it might just be that technology can make a difference.


One more finding from the report.


In 1994 the value of software was 25c (US cents) for each $1 spent on the software, this has risen to 59c per dollar.  (Thats if I’m reading the statistic correctly, the sentence containing it is a bit of a mouthful, someone please correct me if I’m wrong.  But lets assume I’ve got it right…)


Think about that: Software is worth less than it cost to develop.


Most of the money spent developing application is still wasted, we would be better off keeping the money.  That is frightening.  But it is completely compatible with something I wrote about in December (17 December).


Companies that understand IT, and in this case application development reap the benefits.  Those that don’t understand don’t get the benefit.  The days when IT could be left to the IT department and everyone else could bury their head in the sand are gone.  If you don’t want to be bothered with IT then just don’t do it, save your money.  If you have to do it then do it properly.