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Causes of Software Crisis

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Information Technology
Wordcount: 1691 words Published: 13th Jul 2017

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This paper justifies the symptoms and primary causes of software crisis. You will see that the writer made a comparison of software crisis in different countries. We took the information from different articles published in UK, USA and Canada. The findings and suggestions are described at the end to minimise the risk involved while planning and developing a software project.


We begin with the symptoms of Software crisis. Evidence is provided by the documents produced by US military on software crisis. Furthermore, Charelle, (2005) has complied some more astounding failure statistics of software crisis.

We have also discussed the major causes of the software crisis and the description of those causes. The major factor of causing failure in Software management projects is lack of coordination between the teams itself. In last two decades the technology trend is going upward and small and big organizations are adopting the latest technologies and techniques to improve their output productivity. This report reflects the major symptoms and causes of a software crisis along with their description. In the end of the report we conclude with the suggestions to improve the whole process to avoid software crisis.

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Symptoms of Software Crisis

Many researchers agree software project failures occur more frequently than they should, some of them have tinted a crisis within the software industry (Conte et al, 1986; DeMarco, 1982). To assess the success or failure of the project express on cost, delivery time, and quality, Glass (1998) highlighted these three main aspects. Circumstantial evidence is used to highlight the symptoms and primary causes of project failure which creates serious concerns.

Comparison of software crisis between different countries

The other main cause of software crisis is that the machines have become more powerful, if we compare with the past we had a few computer programming with a minor problem in software. Now we have huge computer programming with an equally huge problem in software. Some documents have been written to describe the failure of software project by US military and most of the software problem which had been identified in military area is the same in private sector. In this report the given table explain the major causes of software crisis, in 2001-2002 actual cost of National Insurance Recording System 2, Probation Service Crain, and Child Support Agency project increased for the reason of delays in project time, increase in actual costs and change of the system. Over cost of amount £ 40.4 million increased in the project of (NIRS2) and same problem occurred in the project of (PSC) and an extra amount of £ 50 million spent on the project of (CSA) to improve the system. Overall the causes of software crisis are linked to the complexity of hardware and software development process. Some other further evidence shows that in 2001, a planned project for Immigration and National Directorate was cancelled since department analyzed that new system would be more complex and needs an amount of £ 77million for the implementation of the project that is difficult for the department to pay such huge amount for this project. In the dates of 2001/2002, another new issue of fraud was highlighted in the software project of Individual Learning Accounts; it was a Flagship Training Scheme and an amount of £ 66.9 million was fixed for its implementation. In the sequence of heavy budgeted costs a software project for Defence Logistics Organization in the year of 2002 was suspended on the reason of insufficient funds to start this heavy cost project of an amount of £ 120 million. In the table shows that in the year 1999 a software project for Passport Agency a cost of £ 12.6 million was suspended behind estimating high actual costs. In the prospect of high costs of software, in 1999 Home office scrapped the project that had been planned for improvement in prison services, estimated costs for this software project was about £ 8 million. In the year 2002, a software project Libra for linkup the magistrates was under consideration and required an amount of £ 134 million for implementation of this project. Overall in all above evidences, it shows that crisis of software apparent itself in several ways:

Additionally, Charette (2005) has compiled some more shocking failure in project software it seems that project failure is not a problem of big companies and industries but software problem is occurred widely in small companies, in commercial and non-profit organizations and government departments. Software crisis occur caused by increasingly complexity in hardware and project failure seen to be universal. In the 2nd given tale shows that in 1993 a software project for London Ambulance Service was cancelled after second attempt, and in the same year in USA a project was mad for Allstate Insurance Company after a costing of high amount of $ 130 million abandoned the office automation system. London Stock Exchange cancelled its project of Tarus stock settlement system after costing of huge amount of $ 600 million. In the last few years various process and methodologies have been developed to control the software crises. However, it is widely agreed that there is no constant solution. With a heavy cost budget of $ 44 million and $ 2.6 billion on the project of DMV system for state of California and project for Federal Aviation Administration cancelled in 1994. In 1995 Toronto Stock Exchange cancelled it planned project for installation of Electronic trading system, project cost was estimated about $ 25.5 million. In 1996 a project of Arianespace (France) in the reason of error in the software, 5 rockets explode and huge amount of $ 350 were expended. A project of $ 40 million in 1997 was cancelled by the State of Washington that had planned for department of motor vehicle. In the same year International revenue (USA) cancelled its project that was for Tax modernization effort, an amount of $4.0 billion was estimated for implementation of this project. Snap-on Inc, (USA) an amount of $ 50 million wasted in the software failure occurred in the order- entry system in 1998. In the year, 1999 software problem occurred with ERP system in the project of Hershy Food Corporation (USA), and an amount of $ 151 million was invested. Software for Tax system was cancelled in date of 1999 by the State of Mississippi (USA) and project was about $ 11.2 million. A cost of $ 12 million was cancelled in 1999 by the United Way (USA) a software project was designed for the process of administration system. In the year 2000, huge spent of money for city payroll system abandoned, due to failure in the software in Washington DC. In USA, Nike Inc 2001, about $ 100 million lost in the reason of software problem in the supply-change management system. In Australia 2002 software project for Sydney Water Corporation to maintain the billing system was cancelled, project cost was about 33.2 million. In 2003/4 AT& T Wireless (USA) faced deficiency spent of $ 100 million in up gradation of software for improved customer relation management. In 2004 Hewlet- Packard Company invested $ 160 million for ERP system, but still persist unsolved problem in its software. An amount of $ 527 million invested in the planned project of 1Sainsbury PLC (UK) in 2004, because of that software problem company abandoned the supply chain management system. In general, large software projects are more complicated than small software project. In 2005 Canadian company Hudson Bay faced a big software problem in inventory system; an amount of $ 33.3 million was invested for this project. For conducting a comprehensive survey 250 UK based organization had been selected to find out the defined software failure as:

‘A project that has failed significantly to achieve its objectives and or has exceeded its original budget by at least 30%’

Major reasons of project failure in above mentioned countries

Projects running over budget.

Software was not up to the needs.

Projects taking too long to complete or unnecessary delays.

Substandard Production.

Unable to meet the specific requirements.

Difficult to operate and maintain..

Over budgeting.

Primary cause of Software Crisis

In the result of survey they found that nearby 62% of these selected organizations had at least one major software failure, these were considered primary causes of failure and have been updated by Glass (1998).

Description of Causes by (Glass, 1998)

The objectives were not clear.

Improper table work.

Not having the proper feel of the organization.

Lack of project management methodology.

HR laps or insufficient skilled staff.

Coordination gaps between venders.

Performance and efficiency issues.

A list of primary casual factors has been produced by (Charette, 2005).

Description of Causes by (Charette, 2005)

Bad planning or run time decisions.

Lack of documentation.

Improper assessment.

Incorrect estimates of needed resources.

Impractical project goals.

Not a good communication among customers, developers and users.

Use of undeveloped technology.

Inability to handle the project’s complexity.

Not a good project management.

Stakeholder politics.

Commercial pressure.


We can conclude that the most of the project failures were due to the coordination gaps between the technical project management team and the business decisions. We can overcome this crisis by better monitoring; during the assessment, planning, designing, production, implementation and maintenance phases. We can achive the goal of a successful and on time product by developing better understanding and coordination between the higher management and technical team. Its all about taking right decision at the right time and at the right place.


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