Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Systems Engineering and Management

First Advisor

Mark A. Ward, PhD


Project managers typically set three success criteria for their projects: meet specifications, be on time, and be on budget. However, software projects frequently fail to meet these criteria. Software engineers, acquisition officers, and project managers have all studied this issue and made recommendations for achieving success. But most of this research in peer reviewed journals has focused on the private sector. Researchers have also identified software acquisitions as one of the major differences between the private sector and public sector MIS. This indicates that the elements for a successful software project in the public sector may be different from the private sector. Private sector project success depends on many elements. Three of them are user interaction with the project's development, critical success factors, and how the project manager prioritizes the traditional success criteria. High user interaction causes high customer satisfaction, even when the traditional success criteria are not completely met. Critical success factors are those factors a project manager must properly handle to avoid failure. And priorities influence which success criteria the project manager will most likely succeed in meeting. Through a survey of software project managers at two USAF software development organizations, my research discovered the following: 1) Air Force software project managers' top priority is fulfilling requirements, 2) User interaction during the software life cycle strongly influences user satisfaction with the final product, and 3) Air Force and private sector projects share many of the same critical success factors for nonweapon systems, but there are still some sharp differences.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number