The Standish Group produces the CHAOS Report, with industry research on Project Management and Business Analysis standards, but what does "CHAOS" stand for? "Create Havoc Around Our System"? My Google searches have yielded no discernible results. Perhaps I should be looking it up on Bing instead?...

3 Answers 3


Standish Group's stated aim was to to make order out of chaos in software development projects

You can see it from these extracts from their first (1994) report.

Software development projects are in chaos:

A great many of these projects will fail. Software development projects are in chaos...

The extent of chaos:

The comment most indicative of the chaos in project development came from Sid, a project manager at an insurance company. "The project was two years late and three years in development," he said. "We had thirty people on the project. We delivered an application the user didn't need. They had stopped selling the product over a year before."

Cause of failure in software projects are not analyzed:

When a bridge falls down, it is investigated and a report is written on the cause of the failure. This is not so in the computer industry where failures are covered up, ignored, and/or rationalized. As a result we keep making the same mistakes over and over again.

In order to make order out of chaos, we need to examine why projects fail:

In order to make order out of chaos, we need to examine why projects fail. Just like bridges, each major software failure must be investigated, studied, reported and shared.


The Standish Group actually explains the acronym in their 2018 report. CHAOS - the Comprehensive Human Appraisal for Originating Software. Basically all about the human factor and how it influences project success.


From Object Oriented Software Engineering (Schach p. 46)

The term CHAOS is an acronym. For some unknown reason, The Standish Group keeps the acronym top secret. They state [Standish, 2003]:

"Only a few people at The Standish Group, and any one of the 360 people who received and saved the T-shirts we gave out after they completed the first survey in 1994, know what the CHAOS letters represent."

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