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incompetence (3, Interesting)

X10 (186866) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570172)

Does this mean that IT people are generally incompetent? Or is it just the IT managers who are incompetent? Or, just maybe, it's all IT people who don't read /. who are. Hmm..

Re:incompetence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30570214)

It's all due to those people in my classes who cheated on their projects...

Re:incompetence (1)

nOw2 (1531357) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570340)

Probably true.

There was a significant number of people around me during my degree who tried cheating. While I hope they went into factory work (putting the small boxes in the big boxes) my experience of maintaining other people's code suggests not.

I did not cheat, got a reasonable overall degree, and I have not been involved in any failed projects in the decade or so since.

I once wrote a module for a large industrial application (robot control; very cool stuff) as an outsourced developer. The company hired a couple of full time programmers on to work on the project too. Now, since they offered me the job I knew the salary range. Two years later, both programmers had quit leaving behind a terrifying VB.net mess. I was asked to work on it again and found my module with a header comment "Originally by nOw2 but rewritten 99% by Xyzl!". I did a diff and found about 5% changes, all of which was code to integrate the module into the main application, breaking the modularity of the original design.

Re:incompetence (5, Insightful)

ta bu shi da yu (687699) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570236)

I'd look at it differently. I would firstly work out exactly how much money is generated through effective IT services and projects, and then I'd work out how much money is saved through effective IT services and projects, and then work out how much is lost through projects that go wrong. I think this sort of analysis would give a more true picture of the benefits and risks of IT projects.

Re:incompetence (1)

zoomshorts (137587) | more than 4 years ago | (#30571212)

Agreed, you need to quantify what you have , before guessing how much you do not have, effects
the overall structure. In addition, you need it to be understandable by management types. That
may prove to be impossible.

Re:incompetence (4, Insightful)

pnewhook (788591) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570298)

The amount of time / effort / money I've lost over the years due to buggy and crashing computer software is staggering. And I solely blame this on incompetent software developers. I'm talking of both commercial software (I'm surprised they let some of this crap out the door - do they know what testing is?), and also my own experiences working with development teams.

I've had developers work for me that think they know everything there is to know, refuse to listen to any advice, and basically try to write software only in the way they believe it should be done, completely ignoring the needs and requirements of the system lead and the customer. Throw in to the mix some elitism and a complete lack of ability to communicate without insulting an derogatory statements, and you've got a profile of a large percentage of current software developers. I'm still working to undue to colossal mess of my last ex-software lead that I ended up kicking off the program because he fundamentally didn't know what he was doing (despite thinking he was the best developer on the planet). I've also worked with some amazingly brilliant software developers, but unfortunately they are few and far between. The sheer arrogance of some software developers is astounding.

Re:incompetence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30570320)

You're such an expert, let's see your design docs, testing suites, code etc. That way every developer on the planet can learn from your perfectness.

Re:incompetence (1)

pnewhook (788591) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570422)

You seem awfully defensive..

Re:incompetence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30570438)

That's what happens when you get fired as lead developer.

Re:incompetence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30570860)

Also he seems like someone who hasn't been rushed though a project yet... bad managers don't care if the product sucks, just that it's out the door at some arbitrary date.

Re:incompetence (4, Insightful)

Bucc5062 (856482) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570626)

The amount of time / effort / money I've lost over the years due to buggy and crashing computer software is staggering

The amount of time / effort / money lost over the years due to poor management, bad analysis, and improbable times lines is staggering.

There, fixed it for you. You do see that your own statement is about as arrogant and condescending as the programmers you want to insult. Buggy code, crashing software is not just the responsibility of the programmer, it is the responsibility of the leadership as well. Why was it buggy? Bad design specs, no code reviews, tight time lines with large interruptions? Why did it crash? Poor QA and review by business owners? ridiculous deadlines, poor working conditions, low morale?

There is more there then just "bad programming" as if programming exists in some bubble. Developing is not assembly line work, it is a complex art and yet over decades management has viewed it from an industrial age mentality. Work from x to y, produce x lines of code, stop what you are doing and look at something else no matter where you are at. Certainly there are arrogant programmers, just like there are arrogant managers. I challenge you though to see that both need each other to reduce the number of bugs, the minimizing of crashes (really "crashing computer software? Not Abending or exception failures?) When a positive work environment is set that people tend to work better, with less error. That is the job of management and yes, even leads. For the record, I have been in lead and oversight positions. The best role I played was to get out of the way and let my people do their job. Along the way I would just ensure that we maintained a high quality of effort and we kept on focus to the requirements provided.

Re:incompetence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30570688)

First of all, I agree with you. There are some utterly moronic developers out there.

>I'm surprised they let some of this crap out the door
>(...)think they know everything(...)refuse to listen to any advice(...)they believe it should be done(...)ignoring the needs and requirements(...)elitism(...)
lack of ability to communicate(...)insuling an derogatory statements(...)colossal mess(...)I ended up kicking off(...)didn't know what he was doing
>The sheer arrogance of some software developers is astounding.

So - you have the power to kick someone out. You are therefore also in charge of at least part of this program you are describing.

You are a person in power over a program with missing QA, poor communication, where you try to control technology instead of what gets produced, a program you yourself describe as a "colossal mess", and where you are describing those you work with as "arrogant".

Do you think there may be more problems with your program?

Re:incompetence (0, Troll)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570332)

Does this mean that IT people are generally incompetent?

' No, it means that the monopoly provider of the world's computer desktop software is greedy and takes profits at the expense of progress, interoperability and stability.

Re:incompetence (1)

LogicalError (1002490) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570432)

No, it means that the monopoly provider of the world's computer desktop software is greedy and takes profits at the expense of progress, interoperability and stability.

Oh please, so all software bugs are suddenly the fault of microsoft? I've seen plenty of bugs in open source projects and I'm pretty sure no microsoft engineer had anything to do with that

Re:incompetence (5, Insightful)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570526)

Company, Annual turnover, $mln. 2004
  1. Symantec 1364
  2. McAfee (NAI) 597
  3. Trend Micro 508

Which OS is costing this?

Which company just blocked the best efforts of the rest of the world to develop an interoperable set of document formats?

Microsoft has repeatedly prevented progress in computing. the opportunity costs of that alone are incalculable.

Re:incompetence (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570510)

I suspect that IT failure is more like moral evil.

Most people aren't stone-cold psychopaths, or even consistently self-interested egotists. They're just plugging along, mostly trying to get along with one another. And yet, despite the inputs being, on average, good(or at least OK), the system as a whole puts out an unrelenting stream of shit.

In IT, there are certainly some truly impressive morons(and their much more dangerous cousins, the slick frauds); but most people are more or less OK, and some are downright brilliant. Trouble is, we don't really have a good handle on how to make very complex, very interconnected, systems work well when the inputs are "mostly ok, with spots of genius and blotches of pure suck".

No, but the work is shifting to those ... (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570780)

with far less experience. Much of the successful teams have members with DECADES of experience. That is why IBM was willing to pay money (but not salaries) from employees to move to India and China. They know that they need experience, but do not want to be saddled into the long term costs. In time (1-2 decades), China/India will gain that experience and this will change. In the mean time, a western business is better off hiring from the west where Coding was developed and the experience still resides.

Re:incompetence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30570930)

No... not incompetent. The overall complexity of systems is so great that IT is difficult to manage. I work for a large company with extensive, complex systems. Failure is not so much the issue ( we generally get to where we want to be and more or less on time/budget ) but we've learned that success is expensive. Much of our effort in the past 5 or 10 years has been to homogenize and to reduce complexity/differences. Standards and planning are a big part of success.

Re:incompetence (1)

bwcbwc (601780) | more than 4 years ago | (#30571048)

Actually, this is more likely mostly due to user incompetence. This number has to include the cost of all the extra IT and helpdesk personnel that are required to help PHBs who forget their passwords, download malware onto their work computers, can't figure out how to run a financial report and so on, you can get into the trillions pretty quickly.

The other big item is probably the industry-standard 20% of losses on IT projects due to scope creep, cancellations, system defects and projects that shouldn't have been attempted in the first place. Which includes IT incompetence but still has a PHB component.

It's the platform. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30571090)

Back in the good old days, mainframes (IBM big iron) and minicomputers (Unix, AS/400s, HP's MPE, etc) ruled the business world. Purchase of this equipment was hideously expensive, and access to use it was generally limited to highly trained specialists... expensive computer-science-degreed specialists whom management loathes because management cannot stomach the thought that they have to hire expensive people with attitudes who can hold management "over the barrel". These however systems ran like clockwork, rock solid reliability with uptimes usually measured in months to sometimes years before the inevitable hard drive crash halts the system. Component failures were almost always limited to moving parts -- the disk drives and tape drives, and also power supply units. When a new system was bought and installed, the expected useful service life averaged around nine year cycles in between forklift upgrades.

Then comes along the PC and the Windows operating system. Hardware gets cheap and the O/S initially was cheap too (but arguably not anymore). Systems uptime and reliability goes in the toilet. Forklift upgrades are pushed down to 24 to 36 month cycles, and in some cases, as low as 18 month cycles. Business grows accustomed to a steady diet of PC unreliability, system crashes, sloppily written and buggy commodity software apps become the norm too. Business just shrugs and accepts this new status quo as the way IT works now. Cheap throwaway computers and now cheap throwaway staff to run them. That's where we're at now.

Basically, IMHO, it's Microsoft's fault.

(Amazingly, the captcha I have to enter to post this is "cutback". How fitting.)

Re:incompetence (3, Insightful)

A_Lost_Frenchman (1034456) | more than 4 years ago | (#30571432)

No ! It just means the guy who wrote the white paper, and the guy who comments on it, are both incompetent.

A large number of these will eventually fail. I assume the failure rate of an "at risk" project is between 50% and 80%. For this analysis, I'll use the average: 65%.

Using the same kind of bullshit reasoning here is what I found: A large number of human beings will eventually die. I assume that human beings live between 0 and 100 years. For this analysis, I'll use the average: 50 years. Except that the average life expectancy is not 50 years but actually much higher. Taking the mean of the minimum and the maximum is not at all the same as taking an average, you may as well be pulling the numbers right out of your ass.

To find the predicted cost of annual IT failure, we then multiply these numbers together: .0275 (fraction of GDP on IT) X .66 (fraction of IT at risk) X .65 (failure rate of at risk projects) X 7.5 (indirect costs) = .089. To predict the cost of IT failure on any country, multiply its GDP by .089.

You're trying to introduce a global economic indicator using only 1st grade calculus, that's certainly an interesting approach. So the basic reasoning is that 65% of all IT projects fail, and when they fail, not only do we lose everything that was invested in this particular project, but because of the indirect costs, we are actually going to lose 7.5 times more money ! There is so much bullshit in this sentence I don't even know where to start ! First of all, is the project a failure because it was delivered late, because it is not completely satisfactory, because there are bugs ? In any case, there is almost no chance that the project is such a failure that we can't get anything out of it. What's more there is no way it is going to cost 7.5 times more money than that, which leads me to all the stupid assumptions.

  1. explicit assumption: 66% of all Federal IT dollars are invested in projects that are "at risk". I assume this number is representative of the rest of the world
    => It's not. The US is not even remotely representative of the rest of the world
  2. explicit assumption: I assume the failure rate of an "at risk" project is between 50% and 80%.
    => Maybe you could have looked up the real number included in the definition of an "at risk" project. For all we know it could be 10% of 90%, assuming you know the number when you actually don't doesn't make it right.
  3. implicit assumption: I assume that the average of the minimum and the maximum is the same thing as the average over all projects.
    => It's not, come back when you understand basic statistics.
  4. explicit assumption: I will assume that the ratio of indirect to direct costs is between 5:1 and 10:1. For this analysis, I'll take the average: 7.5:1
    => Same thing as above, you don't actually know the number, it could be anything. Plus you make an average on minimum and maximum values which makes no sense at all.

Now the worst part is that Michael Krigsman seems to find the study interesting:

Although not precise, the numbers demonstrate the seriousness of IT failure around the world.

No, they don't ! We don't have a clue how precise they are, which means we don't have a clue how far they are from the truth. All the assumptions are completely wrong, and not just a little.

Michael Krigsman is CEO of Asuret, Inc., a software and consulting company dedicated to reducing software implementation failures.

I propose we make a study on how much money is lost to software and consulting companies dedicated to reducing software implementation failures. Assuming one fifth are incompetent frauds like Krigsman, and the number of projects involving consulting companies is between 20% and 70% (we take the "average" 45%), and making the same dumb assumption as Krigsman himself, the workdwide cost would be .0275 (fraction of GDP on IT) X .45 (fraction of projects involving consulting companies) X .20 (fraction of frauds among consulting companies) X 7.5 (indirect costs) = .0185 That's a cost of 256 Billions USD for the US alone !! Even though the number is "imprecise", I think it clearly highlights the danger of listening to idiots like Michael Krigsman or Roger Sessions.
Thank you for ruining my day with your bullshit.

Simple solution, put it into the cloud (4, Funny)

alen (225700) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570180)

and it will magically work the way it's supposed to work

Re:Simple solution, put it into the cloud (1)

X10 (186866) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570970)

The magic being that "the way it's supposed to work" is defined by - and only known to - other people than the ones who make the software.

Re:Simple solution, put it into the cloud (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30571014)

When I read “cloud”, I always have to think of that old Luniz video, where they were in the car full of smoke and had to stop because they couldn’t drive anymore.

And then the comment suddenly makes sense again. ^^

Does your company lose 10% to IT failure? (5, Interesting)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570194)

The global domestic product is approximately 60 trillion USD. If 6 trillion is lost to IT failure, then on average, every company is losing 10% productivity to IT failures.

This is simply not credible, and this guy should be strung up by his pinkie toes and flogged with ostrich feathers until he admits he eats eggs benedict on Tuesday mornings.

Re:Does your company lose 10% to IT failure? (1)

lukas84 (912874) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570294)

Sounds completely plausible to me. Your company may lose 0% to IT failure, but others may lose 50%.

Re:Does your company lose 10% to IT failure? (4, Insightful)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570404)

The credulity problem gets worse when one considers how much more productive people have become when using various applications. Yeah, some of them are probably counter-productive, but others (office apps, line-of-business apps) have transformed how we do business for the better. The number seems terribly grandiose even if you push all of the negatives to one side of the equation.

Re:Does your company lose 10% to IT failure? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570600)

The author had probably spent several hours in telephone menu-tree hell before writing the report...

Re:Does your company lose 10% to IT failure? (4, Insightful)

Kintanon (65528) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570598)

We see this in our clients relatively frequently. Primarily because small to medium sized businesses are some how allergic to backups. No matter how hard we push for them to actually spend money on a backup system that is appropriate to the size of their business a lot of them end up cheaping out on either no backup, or a backup that isn't the right fit for them.
The resulting failure a year or two down the line can cost then a huge piece of their annual revenue.

Other places we see this are when clients try to put their own (Windows) servers in and screw something up that requires the OS to be reinstalled to undo.
In my experience a lot of these "IT Failures" are actually management/client/accounting failures that happen to overlap the IT spectrum. If you can't get the proper budget to do your job, that's an accounting failure that shows up in your area. If management refuses to abide by their own usage guidelines on the network and constantly are passing around infected files that's going to increase your infection rate. And if a client adamantly refuses to change their tapes then when they have a flood in their server room and it gets toasted that's going to translate into longer recovery times, longer down time, and lost revenue.

Re:Does your company lose 10% to IT failure? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30571394)

How is backup expensive?

Unison (Free and Open Source - Windows or Unix) + USB Hardrives.

Cheap as chips

Works a treat

Re:Does your company lose 10% to IT failure? (1)

ta bu shi da yu (687699) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570326)

Not only are you awesome at bad analogies, you are terrible at syllogistic logic.

Premise A: Global GDP = $60 trillion
Premise B: Total lost due to IT failue = $6 trillion
Conclusion: Every company on the planet has lost 10% of their productivity due to IT failures.

Let me restate this another way - this is like saying there were 100 million bananas grown in the world in 2009, and that monkeys threw 10% of bananas on the ground, which means that 10 million people slipped on bananas every year.

Re:Does your company lose 10% to IT failure? (1)

nOw2 (1531357) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570350)

Half of all startups fail in the first year.

Re:Does your company lose 10% to IT failure? (2, Insightful)

daveime (1253762) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570474)

50% of 0 dollars income is still 0 dollars.

Including "startups" is perhaps counterproductive, as they don't have any real business model to start with, they float "ideas" to dumb VC's, and never generate a real dime in income before they fail.

The only money lost was the venture capital.

To understand the "cost of losses due to IT", you have to have a functioning business in the first place (with no IT infrastructure), and then see what happens once IT is deployed, and then subsequently fails, weighed against gains such as better productivity, cost savings made etc.

Re:Does your company lose 10% to IT failure? (1)

plopez (54068) | more than 4 years ago | (#30571068)

The only money lost was the venture capital.

Money that could be better spent elsewhere. This is called "opportunity costs". That money could've have been used to back a company with a good idea that had to fold due to lack of capital. E.g. the next RIM, the next Google, the next Apple.

They should have tried (5, Funny)

vandelais (164490) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570204)

turning it off and on again.

Re:They should have tried (1)

obarel (670863) | more than 4 years ago | (#30571002)

Already did. Re-installed the audio drivers, then the operating system. memcheck doesn't show any problems either.

EDIT: Turns out the fan wasn't turning because of dust. I've cleaned it and it works fine now.

Thanks for your help!

MODERATOR NOTE: Topic is closed 2008-05-03.

Absurd. (3, Insightful)

Chicken04GTO (957041) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570220)

Crap article with no way to substantiate the actual dollar amounts. How much money would be lost if a large company simply had no IT department at all?

Re:Absurd. (1)

esarjeant (100503) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570344)

I agree. Totally pointless dribble, it would have some merit if actual failed IT projects were scrutinized in multiple companies and then a hypothesis gathered from there.

If you take a read of the whitepaper, this is really just a sales pitch for SIP ("Simple Iterative Partitions"). You would think someone training clients in SIP would have a few real metrics on failed IT project costs.

Hang on a second... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30570226)

World GDP is currently about $60.6 Trillion dollars a year.

I can tell you right now IT failures do not account for 10% of the world economy.

I really can't stand these 'articles' that take the "then multiply by 6 billion" to get a value for the whole planet.

Re:Hang on a second... (2, Funny)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570460)

This just in, Employee Time Off costs the world $60+ Trillion a year, analyst suggests 16 hour work days.

6.2 Trillion? That's UnAmerican! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30570228)

I am going to start a group called the "Floppy Diskers". We will protest the government and tell them to stop wasteful IT spending as it is against our Constitutional rights!!!!

Who's with me!

Re:6.2 Trillion? That's UnAmerican! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30570376)

Yea Ill be a floppy disker, it will go well with my teabagger hat.. DOWN with government spending at all, the government should work for free!!

A sad day. (4, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570246)

His failure to title the report "The IT Complexity Crisis: Epic Fail" saddens the hearts of all good men and patriots.

Re:A sad day. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30570568)

But still ... "Roger Sessions"? One of the all-time great names.

The Cost of Experience? (2, Interesting)

Max Romantschuk (132276) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570248)

While it's true that many IT project failures are truly spectacularly expensive, many are also a learning experience. We should strive to eliminate failure, of course, but some inefficiency will always be present in any sufficiently complex undertaking.

If one failed project helps a business prevent similar failure in future projects, has the failed project not produced some value after all?

This is more philosophy than anything else, but things are seldom black and white in this world, are they?

Re:The Cost of Experience? (1)

bondsbw (888959) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570452)

If one failed project helps a business prevent similar failure in future projects, has the failed project not produced some value after all?

Not really. Let's say that one succeeded and the future projects still succeed. Obviously that is positive compared with the failure you described. Let's say that the one succeeded and a future project failed, which then led to the experience to succeed at the other future projects. The overall state would have been neutral, on average.

There's no use praying for failure just so you can gain experience at failing.

Re:The Cost of Experience? (2, Insightful)

Max Romantschuk (132276) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570486)

There's no use praying for failure just so you can gain experience at failing.

Of course not... But perhaps the occasional failure is a necessary component of the price of success?

Dead on (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570844)

The real issue is that companies like IBM, Qwest, Verizon, ATT, etc have been moving their work from Western countries to China and India. These countries do not have the experience. Experience is what keeps projects from failing. Youth, combined with adventuresome and lack of knowledge of what fails is what allows new directions to be taken. A good company needs both. Most of these large companies are gutting their experience, but not taking on those that want to be adventuresome. That is why companies like IBM, HP, Dell, etc are doomed to following the same path as Compaq, Dec, etc. This is also the time for small start-ups through the world. The time to do that is when companies like these monsters are floundering.

Something's wrong with adblock (4, Insightful)

belthize (990217) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570252)

There was an ad masquerading as an article by Michael Krigsman the CEO of Asuret, Inc., a software and consulting company dedicated to reducing software implementation failures.

Re:Something's wrong with adblock (4, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570416)

Sounds like somebody needs to hack together a new form of adblocker.

Integrating data from social media networks(get your checkbooks ready and form an orderly line, venture capitalists), particularly those, like linkedin that handle professional affiliations; along with influence peddling/lobbying data from the likes of opensecrets, this tool could automatically grade the trustworthiness and cheap-hackticity of a given article's author, saving you the trouble of manually ignoring the astroturf and marketing fluff.

It'd be a lot trickier, and less precise, than just using regex and blocking known-evil domains; but, in principle, it should actually be possible to use "social media" normally a stalwart friend of subhuman marketing scum, as a source of the information necessary to thwart the same in their vile designs...

Re:Something's wrong with adblock (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570482)

When I read Roger Sessions described as a "noted author and expert on complexity", my first reaction was [citation needed]. Particularly since this 'noted' expert didn't even merit a Wikipedia article (the article for "Roger Sessions" is for a very talented early 20th century musical composer).

And it's not because authors of IT and CS books aren't meeting Wikipedia's notability rules, since lots of others are: e.g. Tanenbaum, the Gang of Four, Larry Wall, Guido, etc.

Re:Something's wrong with adblock (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570642)

Mr. Sessions had better watch out. Whenever somebody falsely claims expertise in complexity the ghost of Andrey Kolmogorov comes to haunt their dreams.

Re:Something's wrong with adblock (2, Funny)

JustOK (667959) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570656)

Oh, Tanenbaum.

Perhaps wikipedia doesn't save Sessions info between uses?

Offset against what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30570254)

If IT failure costs 10 trillion US$ a year, how much does IT success bring in?


Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30570264)

I suggest looking closely at the arguments and post -- it is a VERY serious issue.

Asleep at the Switch (5, Insightful)

professorguy (1108737) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570272)

So let me get this straight... You spend a dollar trying to improve your business process. It doesn't work out. So you're out a dollar. I get it. But then you're out a further $10 because if it HAD worked out, that's what you WOULD have saved. Puh-lease. That's assuming your idea was worth a fuck. NOT ALL IDEAS ARE.

I can easily prove that you personally have lost millions of dollars because there were plenty of things you COULD have done to earn those millions. Why didn't you start a search engine? Why didn't you write the twitter application? Not skilled enough? Heck, you should have bought that winning lottery ticket! And while we're at it, why did you waste your money on fixing your car when it just got wrecked a month later?

My god, you've cost yourself millions of dollars due to your incompetence!

Re:Asleep at the Switch (2, Informative)

yerktoader (413167) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570472)

Sir! You will NOT sully the good name of(...what was it, hang on, let me check...Roger Sessions...)Roger Sessions! He is a respected and noted author and expert on The Internet! He knows exactly how SRS this business can be!

Re:Asleep at the Switch (2, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570560)

To actually quote the dude in entirety instead of one small part:

When thinking about indirect costs, you need to include the costs of replacing the failed system, the disruption costs to your business, the lost revenue because of the failed system, the lost opportunity costs on what that lost revenue could have driven, the costs to your customers, lost market share, and on and on.

You're claiming that his "the lost opportunity costs on what that lost revenue could have driven" is bogus. However, thats only a small part of his otherwise pretty good argument, so overally, not too bad.

Also, at least some times, its pretty easy to calculate a lost cost revenue cost... Imagine you've got a signed contract to deliver product A, yielding a profit, and you fail. You needed that profit to grease the wheels for totally independent project B. Now, instead of using "free" cash, you'll be hitting the line of credit at the bank, which has some very easily measured costs, or you'll be failing project B, which had its own precisely defined profit... That sounds like a "lost opportunity cost on what the lost revenue could have driven".

Re:Asleep at the Switch (1)

Cwix (1671282) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570770)

Yea but you just cant play the coulda woulda shoulda game, it didn't work when I was 5, and its not gonna work when corporations do it now. How about this "Don't put all your eggs in one basket" or "Don't count your chickens before they hatch". You cannot budget money you don't have yet, not reliably. Sometimes money thats supposed to show up doesn't for whatever reason, and blaming it on IT workers, and selling your service as an IT expert smacks of selfless, shameless self promotion. And that makes it bunk.

Tell this to our managers! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30570274)

Someone should tell this to our managers when experts are suffering lousy working conditions. Allways people who knows how to do it changes company becouse managenet suxx and they make you work impossible by saving costs everywhere!

Wasted? (1)

AdamInParadise (257888) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570288)

<tongue position="cheek">How is this money wasted? It's a lot of work to produce a spectacularly failing projet. All those programmers and project managers are not free you know. They have to pay their mortgage like everyone else.</tongue>

Nonsense assumptions (1)

larwe (858929) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570356)

This article, and the guy who wrote it, is a useless waste of space. Anyone can prove anything if they make unfounded assumptions. Hey, I'm going to assume that in 2010 I'll either earn $100,000 or $100,000,000. Let's take the average and call it $550,000. Look, I *CAN* afford a ten-million-dollar mortgage, on those assumptions!

Re:Nonsense assumptions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30571026)

Anyone can prove anything if they make unfounded assumptions. Hey, I'm going to assume that in 2010 I'll either earn $100,000 or $100,000,000. Let's take the average and call it $550,000.

If your math skills are anything to go by, I wouldn't bet on it.

Re:Nonsense assumptions (1)

larwe (858929) | more than 4 years ago | (#30571162)

Exactly my point, that wasn't a typo. Take two meaningless datapoints and interpolate a third in between them and it doesn't matter what crazy math you use, because you're using magic to calculate fantasies.


travdaddy (527149) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570370)

I wonder how much of this IT failure is actually user (non-IT) failure? From experience, the amount of user error that becomes an IT problem is far greater than the actual IT problems. Also, these are user failures that generally cannot be prevented by IT using error catching or better UI by the way.


Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30570494)

Properly written software or implemented system *should* be idiot proof. Obviously, that is simply not real world feasible and there are some things you can't fix, like the user who kicks the switch on their surge protector, but there is a good deal of head room that could be made.

In his estimate he forgot to include... (1)

ctrl-alt-canc (977108) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570394)

...the cost of web servers put out of service by the slashdot effect. However now he has the opportunity to improve his model.

arse pulling this (1)

bytesex (112972) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570420)

This article comes from the same universe as the one where drugs (no matter which) cost 1 million per gram, and downloaded music deprives the stakeholders of roughly 200 billion per song.

BS Rolls downhil (3, Insightful)

Bucc5062 (856482) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570484)

What nonsense. One of the foundations of project falure is built from the top down. Executive leaderships say "make this work" what ever "this" may be. Top leadership runs around then looking for a solution. Many times they go to a vendor and of course the vendor says "Why yes, our product will solve "this" problem". So instead of so good due diligence on the part of analysts to truly see what the specific needs are, the company purchases this cost saving solution; perhaps it is a service, perhaps it is a soup to nuts enterprise system, perhaps it is off the shelf, out of the box software.

Soon into implementation or pilot the upper levels managers finally begin to see what their own IT staff and their customers were trying to tell them
1 - We don't need "this"
2 - "This" does not fit our needs
3 - "We have to use "this?", the current system works.

Even worse, while the company has a qualified in house staff that understands the specific needs, they will hire consultants to tell them how "this" can work for them. It could be that certain decision makers were favored by the vendor to "try it out" only to find later that the trail cost more in lost time, money, effort while the vendor pockets the dough.

Cynical? Not really. Over my long time in the business I have seen this time and time again. Even though there is a good staff structure in place to handle company IT needs top corporate leaders will buy from a vendor because the perception is that the goal will come quicker. Never mind that the product may not fit, IT will make it fit. Never mind the internal customers that need retraining, we'll hire new people...and on and on. All to try and save time. The bottom line is that any failure of an IT project begins with the top leadership not doing their job. The first question they should ask and answer before dropping a dime is "Do we really really need "this". The second, "Is it an emergency?". The third, "Do we have staff to create "this"?, the fourth "how will this effect our internal customers?. In a world where the attitude is "We need it yesterday" there will be more failure, but do not fault just IT, fault corporate leadership.

(yes I rtfa and it was fluff, stupid and providing no insight to why)

Re:BS Rolls downhil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30570744)

Wow, I think we've worked at all the same places!

a small rant... (3, Insightful)

anonymous9991 (1582431) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570502)

how about uniform standards and less versions of sql, less browsers, less version of unix/linux, and maybe even standards in linux so that installations and menu additions and gui stuff was easier like windows. Yes linux folk open source 1000 different distros is not helping linux take over the desktop. And must windows really move stuff around each version just to confuse people and make them relearn again? But most of all why must applications be given so much freedom in terms of operating system. Can't the os keep more of these details in the kernel and limit the damage applications and viruses do to the pc. I don't think windows or linux are the future, I think someone has to create a new secure operating system that is easier to use than windows or linux and maybe doesn't let developers and users run free like the wild west. As much as I like all the insane things I can do with C++ memory/pointers , and changing the os and windows start text to anything I like there is no need for this to be open to users. The os needs to be more like a vault with bank security guards controlling it. And do we really need so many programming language, Sun wouldn't give MS java freedom so they create C#; etc. ruby , perl, smalltalk, etc.. is this really helping? And last why is javascript allowed to do stuff like control my back button , etc.. it has been years and no one can deprecate this dangerous behavior??

Re:a small rant... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30570546)

All good points, made harder to read by not using a standard called a paragraph.

What a joke of a number (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570504)

Basically, a self proclaimed IT efficiency expert writes that "the world is wasting TRILLIONS of dollars a year, because it has bad IT". The subtext is, you must hire an IT efficiency expert, and "um, I happen to be one".

It would be nice if people that publish all these shock numbers were not so transparently self motivated. It almost makes me not trust any number at all. It's like, if Newton were alive today, and published that Earth's gravity acceleration, I'd have to ask, well, what's in it for you, Isaac!

Authors Review Due ? (2, Insightful)

daveime (1253762) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570528)

blognoggle writes

Now I'm assuming this is the same "blognoggle" who brought us such gems as :-

"Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Evil Racebaiter"
"Vampires and Bloodsucking Liberals"
"Time to Impeach Barack Obama"
"Is Your Boss a Vampire? Or, Maybe, a Shapeshifter?"

Really timothy, perhaps it's time to stop the copypasta from reddit bloggers, before our heads explode ?

This article is self promotion bate. (3, Informative)

upuv (1201447) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570548)

I've seen so many of these sorts of articles lately on /.

It's really devaluing /.

It would be nice to have some mod facility to get these nuked. It's disappointing that such a long running resource like /. is now being infected with self promotion. One of the best self promotion FAILS was the one about face book switching to some C++ frame work from php in order to save 10s of thousands of servers resources. I'm still laughing about that one.

Not a problem. (1)

Bazman (4849) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570578)

I can give you perfect IT systems. It will cost you Infinite Dollars. Or I can give you a totally failing IT system for nothing. Somewhere along that line is the break-even point, and if we assume the market is working the way it is supposed to, we are riding that break-even point.

Live with it.

Weird statistic... (2, Insightful)

Sir_Real (179104) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570592)

So how much value does IT generate in a year?

Re:Weird statistic... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30570666)

None, of course! Stupid cost centers, with those geeks always inflating their budgets for shiny new tech toys...

Re:Weird statistic... (1)

jav1231 (539129) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570700)

Exactly! It's the cost of doing business. It's staggering the amount of productivity that is accomplished despite IT failures. And human idiocy, corporate theft, pinhead bosses...the list goes on and on and yet profit is still generated. Yes, it's a problem and I won't discount the need to do something about but it's reality.

Who cares as long as some of it comes my way (2, Interesting)

tyroneking (258793) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570672)

Seriously - this is dumb - IT projects, just like life, will often fail. We know they will and we know why. If it was such a problem then clients and project managers would actually do something about it - but they don't. So in that case all I care about is that I get some of the money - and I work in IT - so I do. Hooray!

Also, failure isn't such a bad thing - my past relationships failed, I didn't regret them (well, ok, I did...) - my latest poem failed to be any good, I didn't regret trying - my last batch of home brew has gone bad (I may still drink it of course) but that's life.

Oh noes! (1)

yerktoader (413167) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570678)

Alright everyone, this Internet thing has officially become Serious Business! Someone tell the Internet Police!

A few reasons ( in my opinion) (4, Insightful)

KDN (3283) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570682)

  1. Vendors grossly over selling what they can do. How many times has your company bet on a future product of a vendor that is the best thing since sliced bread and will be available in 3 months, and then 3 months after that, and then 6 months after that, and then a year after that, and then 3 months after that, etc. And when it finally comes out most of the pie in the sky features you were depending on don't really work. But they say it will work in the next version. Real Soon Now.
  2. Star Trek style management: Managers who think their crew are Scotty who pulls off a miracle every week. Its never been done, we don't have time to do it right, but its got to work right the first time given not enough resources. Sure it works on Star Trek, its in the script. FYI: I love the Star Trek series, but I also know the difference between fiction and reality.
  3. Changing requirements: tell me, who could build a house if you were changing the design every week? One week its a ranch, next week its an apartment building, next week its solar power, next week its wind power, next week it has 5 bathrooms instead of one, next week the bathrooms get moved to different areas of the house, next week the water supply gets moved to the other end of the house. And by the way, we need to cut your budget and move up the deployment date. Doesn't that sound like what happened to Duke Nukem Forever?
  4. Big Bang deployments. Designs where a completely new design replaces an old one. No system wide testing (remember the Hubble? The system wide test was deleted to save money.). The old system is torn out, the new system is thrown in, and everything has to work the first time because you can't go back. And there are no facilities for debugging or diagnostics or changes because of course the programmers got everything right the first shot.
  5. Ignoring your own staff. Staff does a detailed bakeoff of competing products and chooses the clear winner. Manager goes with the looser because he owns stock in that company. Company deploys product, deployment goes badly, manager blames staff.

Note: these are composite examples from many sources I have gotten over the years. They are not against any one company. But I think they are indicative of the industry as a whole. And that is sad.

In that case... (1)

djpretzel (891427) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570814)

I'm gonna have to try that much harder in 2010... I know that, through my own personal hard work and dedication, I can get that figure down to $6,199,999,900,000...

Can't argue with the math (2, Insightful)

Posting=!Working (197779) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570848)

"According to the 2009 U.S. Budget [02], 66% of all Federal IT dollars are invested in projects that are "at risk". I assume this number is representative of the rest of the world."

"A large number of these will eventually fail. I assume the failure rate of an "at risk" project is between 50% and 80%. For this analysis, I'll use the average: 65%."

"You can see that indirect costs add up quickly. I will assume that the ratio of indirect to direct costs is between 5:1 and 10:1. For this analysis, I'll take the average: 7.5:1."

In summary, if you assume Federal IT expenditures have the same rate of being "at risk" (whatever that means) as every business in the world, and multiply it by the average or two numbers I just made up, then further multiply it by the average of two other numbers I also made up and wouldn't even make sense to use if they were real, then multiply that by a semi-legitimate percentage and the GDP, you get A Large SCARY Number!

You did notice that he's claiming that IT failures cost over 3 times as much as the total spent on IT, right?

"2.75 % of GDP is spent on hardware, software, and services." OK, so that's $1.92 trillion for the world total spent on IT.

"To predict the cost of IT failure on any country, multiply its GDP by .089" Wait, 8.9%? $6.21 trillion in costs on $1.92 trillion spent? Is this the accounting from "the Producers"?

I expected someone would have checked the math before posting this kind of story on Slashdot

One Expert Pegs Yearly Number of Fake Experts At.. (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570878)

...6.2 Million.

I should try acting all “experty” and come up with numbers that support the views of my bosses or myself too.
According to experts, there’s good money in this... ;)

An opportunity cost taken way out of context. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30571012)

We have large numbers of smart people working hard to fix these costs, and by my estimation the pace of reduction far exceeds that of other opportunity costs. For example, the problem of suburbanization and lagging mass-transit has probably incurred an astronomically higher cost to the U.S. alone, but because the powers that be didn't care to have that cost reduced we have failed to assess it for the last 50 years. So some journalist decides he'll take a swipe at one of the hardest working segments of the world economy because it cannot continuously maximize its output. Provide some damn context and put this number in perspective.

what about the money being saved? (1)

Jessta (666101) | more than 4 years ago | (#30571076)

does this amount take in to account the massive amounts of money made by ignoring bugs and pushing forward anyway?
sure a program might have a bunch of bugs that costs $$ to patch and deal with on a daily basis, but the fact that you now need 90% less staff or that you can do 1000 times more business is likely to far outweigh the cost. Which of course is why businesses still love IT.

Sure better and less complex solutions could be created, but they take thinking and planning time and usually then have to deal with the massive mess anyway.

What's the benefit of tech? (1)

plopez (54068) | more than 4 years ago | (#30571096)

If the lost productivity outweighs the costs then we would be better off without it. This is called "cost benefits analysis".

I don't think this was addressed.

Many causes of failure (3, Insightful)

ErichTheRed (39327) | more than 4 years ago | (#30571242)

"IT failure" is a very broad term and can happen for a lot of reasons:

  • Poor requirements definition
  • Poor project management (not keeping scope creep in check, not being semi-flexible and delivering a useless piece of software, etc.)
  • Execs or IT management desperate to make schedules and forcing release dates
  • System failure due to poor planning (no redundancy, poor-quality outsourced hosting, etc.)
  • Lack of, or incomplete testing
  • Bad code quality

My take on this is that the main cause of failure is the fact that IT still hasn't settled on a set of engineering principles to deliver projects. Things change way too fast still -- over the life of a 2-year project, your hardware platform may be changed out from under you, for example. PHP, .NET or Java may be swapped out for YetAnotherCoolLanguage0.1alpha4. This is made worse by unscrupulous vendors, poorly-trained consultants, and lack of acceptance by the user base of the software.

I think the author is referring to the direct cost of a failure. Every few months, the technical publications run an article or two about a large company or government agency writing off millions of dollars for a failed SAP/Oracle Financials/similar package deployment. Whenever I see one of these, it's interesting to see what happened. Usually it has something to do with one or more of the causes I listed above. Generally, the more expensive, tranformational and long a project is, the worse the results are. It's not just vendors either - I've seen in-house projects spiral down the same way. The other thing that comes to my mind when I read articles like this is why they didn't see it coming. Don't IT executives talk to each other over golf or something and say, "Yeah, SAP screwed us out of $100M in consulting fees. I'd watch them if I were you..."?

Other branches of engineering aren't immune to this though. Construction and infrastructure projects often run over time and budget. The difference is that a construction project gets finished one way or another. A software project failure means throwing away two years of work and putting the hardware on eBay.

Whatever... (1)

Wahakalaka (1323747) | more than 4 years ago | (#30571294)

This sounds like one of those "America loses 50 zillion dollars a year while employees zone out" studies. If people were machines we wouldn't need IT.

Oh Yeah? (2, Funny)

BigBlueOx (1201587) | more than 4 years ago | (#30571366)

Well *I* am not only a noted expert on complexity but a specialist in improbability and a noted chaos activist (having a doctorate in activism) and *I* say that IT errors cost TEN QUINZILLION DOLLARS so pay attention to me me me.
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