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The Changing World of Software

October 1995 White Paper
Watts S. Humphrey

Few expect software to be delivered on time and defect-free. How long will customers tolerate such performance? A closer look at the industry reveals that the software world needs to change.


Software Engineering Institute


When the marketplace changes, companies must adapt; those that don't, suffer serious consequences. The once invulnerable IBM, for example, had to cut its work force from 406,000 to 220,000 employees when they lost customers. One critical requirement for lasting business success is meeting customers' needs and doing it as well or better than the competition.

Since the early days of software development, our industry has been the outstanding example of poor performance. Even today, few expect software to be delivered on time and, when the products finally arrive, they often have lots of defects. How 

How long will customers to tolerate such performance? There are two parts to the answer. First, can anyone do better? And second, will the defects cause damage? Clearly, if no one does better work and if the customers do not suffer intolerable pain, the software marketplace could continue much as today. A closer look, however, shows that our world must change.