Abstract This paper reports the findings of afield study on managing the development of software applications used for decision making. The study is based on a sample of 108 systems that have been operational for at least one year. Collectively, these systems represent a broad spectrum of complexity with respect to decision making and computer technology. At one extreme are stand-alone systems with simple decision-making logic. At the other extreme are systems with logic for highly complex decision domains. Some systems are widely distributed throughout firms and linked to suppliers, distributors, or customers. The study gathers data regarding the origins of systems ideas, development costs, project durations, management controls, and the composition of the software development teams. It develops measures to assess and categorize systems in terms of two dimensions of complexity: decision making and computer technology. Successful approaches to systems development are found to be contingent on these two dimensions of complexity.