Most software projects fail completely or partial failures because a small number of projects meet all their requirements. These requirements can be the cost, schedule, quality, or requirements objectives. According to many studies, failure rate of software projects is between 50% – 80%. This essay is a compilation of failure causes of software development projects; this essay summarises several areas that play a vital role in software project failure.
So, what really is the reason for software project failure? The sad fact is that software projects fail because we do not recognize that good engineering principles should be applied to software projects just as they are to building office buildings. We try to defend ourselves by saying that software construction is “different”.
One of the most serious complaints against software failure is the inability
to estimate with acceptable accuracy the cost, resources, and schedule necessary
for a software project. Conventional assessment methods have always produced
positive results which contribute to the too well-known cost infested and
Over the last 20 years many cost and schedule estimation techniques have been
used with mixed sensation due to restrictions of the assessment models. A major
part of the estimations failure can be due to a lack of understanding of the
software development process and the effect of that method used in the project
plan, schedule and cost estimates.
Failure Case Studies
Below are few of the case studies considered which will be analysed to fetch
the main reasons of failure of the software system.
Northumbria University developed accounting software to manage its day to day
business. The project could not come up with the desired results and failed to
meet the deadlines. Te investigations showed that the basic project management
procedures were not followed. This case study is referenced in this essay at
different points where necessary. 
Thai subsidiary (SMTL) of a Hong Kong-based multinational company (SMHK)
engaged in the manufacturing of electronic equipment. They implemented an
integrated software package; which was a failure at the several factors. These
factors were mostly management related. Such as a poor fit between the business
process assumptions inscribed in the software and the business processes in SMTL,
poor leadership at different levels, cultural differences, organizational
environment, and poor human resource management.
St John’s Hospital is a District General Hospital provides medical and
nursing services, which includes both general surgery and medicine.All these
services are supported by diagnostic imaging, laboratory, ambulance, pharmacy
and therapy services, which are all on site. As the major hospital in a tourist
area, it deals with many visitors in the holiday season, generating a large
amount of non-booked admissions work.
Software Management & Leadership
It has been shown repeatedly, that effective leadership is essential for successful IT implementation (Klenke, 1994). A leader must also have cultural sensitivity, communication skills, creativity, ability to delegate, and the ability to develop and retain human resources (Luthans, 1994). The software manager at (SMHK) was a western, where as the lower managers were Eastern. So there was a cultural clash going on always. Jack (Manager) always try to introduce creative thoughts. And most of the time the lower management could not do them. Hence there was a clash going on all the time.