What is the Standish Group Chaos Report and Why Should You Care?
The Standish Group Chaos Report is a series of research papers that analyze the success and failure rates of software projects across the world. The report has been published periodically since 1994 and provides valuable insights into the factors that influence project outcomes. The report also offers recommendations and best practices for improving project performance and delivering value to customers and users.
The Chaos Report is based on data collected from thousands of software projects of different sizes, types, domains, and methodologies. The report categorizes projects into three resolution types: successful, challenged, and failed. A successful project is one that meets the triple constraints of being on time, on budget, and on target (scope). A challenged project is one that is late, over budget, or has missing features. A failed project is one that is cancelled or never used.
The report also introduces new definitions of success based on customer and user satisfaction, value delivery, and goal achievement. These definitions reflect the modern reality of software development, where scope is often flexible and adaptive to changing needs and expectations. The report also explores the impact of different project management approaches, such as agile and waterfall, on project outcomes.
The Chaos Report is a useful resource for anyone involved in software projects, whether as a developer, manager, customer, or user. The report helps to understand the common challenges and risks that software projects face, as well as the best practices and skills that can improve project performance and value delivery. The report also provides benchmarks and trends that can help to evaluate and compare project results.
The latest edition of the Chaos Report was published in 2020 under the title Beyond Infinity. It covers data from 2011 to 2015 and includes new sections on decision latency theory, winning hand, classic chaos, factors of success, and skills of the factors of success. The report can be purchased from the Standish Group website[^1^] or downloaded as a PDF file[^2^].
One of the main findings of the Chaos Report is that project size matters. The report shows that smaller projects have a much higher success rate than larger projects. For example, in 2015, small projects had a 62% success rate, while large projects had only a 6% success rate. The report also shows that agile methods are more suitable for smaller projects, while waterfall methods are more suitable for larger projects. However, the report also suggests that breaking down large projects into smaller chunks can improve their chances of success.
Another key finding of the Chaos Report is that decision latency affects project outcomes. Decision latency is the time it takes to make a decision after an event occurs. The report introduces a decision latency theory that states that faster decisions lead to better results. The report also identifies four types of decision makers: deciders, influencers, approvers, and performers. The report recommends reducing the number of decision makers and empowering the performers to make decisions as close to the action as possible.
A third important finding of the Chaos Report is that project success depends on several factors and skills. The report identifies 10 factors of success that have a positive impact on project outcomes. These factors are: executive management support, emotional maturity, user involvement, optimization, agile process, skilled resources, execution, tools and infrastructure, project management expertise, and clear business objectives. The report also identifies 10 skills of the factors of success that are essential for project teams. These skills are: leadership, communication, collaboration, negotiation, conflict resolution, critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, innovation, and learning.