The No. 1 Cause of IT Failure: Complexity

Is the problem a bad set of user requirements? Poor business alignment? No. According to software architect Roger Sessions, the primary cause of software project failures is complexity.

Complexity can create delays, cost overruns and systems that don't meet business needs, according to Sessions, who is chief technology officer at ObjectWatch Inc. and author of Simple Architectures for Complex Enterprises (Microsoft Press, 2008). "Our goal should be to design the least complex architecture possible that solves the business problem," he said in a report he released last month.

In the report, Sessions estimated that worldwide, the annual cost of IT failure is about $6 trillion -- that's $500 billion per month. For the U.S., the annual cost is about $1 trillion. In an interview with interview with Computerworld New Zealand, Sessions said his estimates may be 30% too high or 30% too low, but he maintained that it's the magnitude of the numbers that's important.

According to the report, "The IT Complexity Crisis: Danger and Opportunity," preventing so much costly IT failure would painlessly add $500 billion per month to the world economy, and it could make companies more profitable and enable governments to provide more services without raising taxes.

Sessions' remedy is a software design process called Simple Iterative Partitions, which "partitions business functions into subsystems" in a way that makes the overall system as simple and reliable as possible to achieve the business goal.

From CIO: 8 Free Online Courses to Grow Your Tech Skills
Join the discussion
Be the first to comment on this article. Our Commenting Policies