I was reading recently about a comparison of traditional engineering disciplines with software and found some interesting facts that highlight some of the differences. Consider these two projects:

Project 1: completed on time, but

  • Estimate cost: $4M -> actual cost $9M
  • Post Release: 30% additional performance work
  • Annual maintenance costs: $3M

Project 2:

  • Budgeted time to develop: 5 years -> actual time 14 years
  • Estimated cost: $7M -> actual cost $102M
  • Post Release: 40M of adaptive costs
  • Maintenance: $20M over 10 years

Are these projects successes or failures? If they were software projects they would be case studies of major disasters. However these two projects are examples of great civil engineering successes. Project 1 is the Sydney harbor Bridge. Project 2 is the Sydney Opera House..