Fun With Stats: How To Turn Less Than Half Into 95%

from the lies,-damn-lies... dept

You have to hand it to the folks who put out research reports. They certainly know how to pick up stats that aren’t particularly interesting and twist them into suggesting something that simply isn’t true. While the Globe And Mail got this story right, others who are following up on it, are picking up on exactly what the study’s publishers wanted them to focus on. Slashdot has announced that 95% of IT projects are not delivered on time — which sounds a little alarming (though, probably not if you work in technology, where you might have guessed such a number). Of course, that’s not what the actual story says at all. In fact, the study claims that less than half of IT projects run late. It’s not Slashdot’s fault, necessarily (though, it is made clear in the article), as it appears this is exactly what the study’s backers wanted people to pick up on. The real stat is that 95% of IT groups claim that they don’t complete all projects on time. In other words, if an IT group has 100 projects to work on this year, and they deliver 99 of them on time, but one comes in late, they fall into that 95% category. If anything is surprising about that number, it’s that it’s not 100%. However, by positioning the study with the 95% number, it sounds a lot more interesting than claiming less than half of all IT projects run over their expected delivery date.

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