Summary of Software Development Failures

Anatomy of Abandoned Projects

MIT Press, more...

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Software Development Failures book summary
Software development projects fail due to lack of goals, communication and skill, just like other projects, only costlier.


7 Overall

6 Applicability

10 Innovation

5 Style


Here’s a two-ingredient recipe for disaster: take a big organization and mix in ambitious plans for a state-of-the-art software system. The disaster already happened at the IRS and Denver International Airport, both victims of software development missteps. Such failures are common, costly and all-too-avoidable, writes academic Kweku Ewusi-Mensah. While his prose can be dry, the examples he uses prove quite juicy. A little common sense could have saved the IRS billions and the Denver airport millions. Both fell victim to surprisingly basic pitfalls, such as unclear or unrealistic goals and over optimistic expectations that inexperienced people could get the job done. Ewusi-Mensah convincingly argues that organizations need to share such learning experiences, although he acknowledges that would mark a reversal from common practice. recommends this book to managers and engineers involved in developing software. This cautionary tale could save your neck.

In this summary, you will learn

  • What software development failure is
  • Why this problem is common, costly and hard to solve
  • How your company can avoid software development meltdowns


A Costly but Little Understood Problem
Public and private organizations waste billions of dollars every year on software development projects that collapse before completion. The financial consequences can be harsh and can draw very negative media attention. For the most part, organizations...
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About the Author

Kweku Ewusi-Mensah is a professor of computer information systems at Loyola Marymount University.

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