Practical Software Measurement

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Three Strategies for Successful 2017 Project Portfolio Planning

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As we move closer to the end of the year, many of us are in planning mode. We’re working hard to determine which development projects are going to get done next year, and which ones may have to wait their turn until 2018.

No one should go it alone, though. Business executives need input from IT managers to truly gauge the feasibility of developing the projects that are on their list. Likewise, IT managers need insight into the expectations of business executives so they can produce the products they need.

That’s what makes project portfolio planning so essential. It brings business stakeholders and IT managers together by allowing them to communicate with each other about needs and expectations, and to find common ground that leads to realistic project estimates that help shape the course of successful development for the next 12 months.

It also helps establish a clear product roadmap. It’s not uncommon for organizations to start out with a long list of “to-do’s” every year, but doing everything is simply unrealistic. Therefore, it’s important to identify and prioritize projects that will bring your company the best ROI and help it meet overall strategic goals over the course of the next year.

New Article: In Agile, What Should We Estimate?

In Agile, What Should We Estimate?

Instead of debating #YesEstimate vs. #NoEstimates, we can ask a more useful question: “what should we estimate and why?”  To answer this, we need to distinguish between consumable value and potentially deliverable software. Both are useful concepts but for different purposes.  By choosing small enough developer-sized bites, we can time-box potentially deliverable software to get frequent feedback and review.  But a meal that provides consumable value that satisfies our users and customers must consider the tradeoff of benefits to both the business and the consumer.  In the second article of QSM's Agile Round Table series, Andy Berner explains why setting goals for consumable value and estimating what it takes to reach those goals are both needed to guide the choices every organization needs to make about what to develop and how to allocate resources.

Read the full article!

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Agile Articles

New Article: Using Software Project Metrics

Compare Project Plan to History

Software measurement by itself does not resolve budget, schedule or staffing issues for projects or portfolios, but it does provide a basis upon which informed decisions can be made. Here are examples of how to use metrics to determine present capabilities, assess whether plans are feasible, and explore trade-offs if they are not. This is the third article of a three part series by QSM's Don Beckett for Projects at Work. You can read the first article here and the second here.

Read the article!

The More Things Change: The Evolution of Software Estimation and Development Over the Past 35 Years

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The term “true original” is used to describe someone who is a trailblazer -- and it describes my father to a T. My dad was an early architect of software estimation, the process of predicting the time, effort, and manpower it takes to complete a software development project.

Thirty-five years ago, my father was a budget director for the Army’s computer programs. He had the unfortunate experience of having his funding significantly reduced when his IT team failed to properly articulate its software development goals in ways that were relatable to leaders. As a superior put it, “Whenever I talk to the IT guys, I hear about bits and bytes, programming languages, and bandwidth, but nothing that relates to time, effort, and cost.”

That comment sent my dad on a mission to develop a software estimation frameworkthat addressed the three points that his boss was most concerned about. He sought to expose what he called “a fundamental law of nature in our software production equation.”

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Estimation

New Article: A Lead Role in Software Success

A Lead Role in Software Success

When organizations base their decisions on desires instead of data, it usually backfires. Here are four important actions that executives, PMO directors and program leaders can take to improve the predictability and success rate of their software development and enhancement projects. This is the second article of a three part series by QSM's Don Beckett for Projects at Work. You can read the first article here.

Read the article!

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Articles Project Management

Top Programming Languages Revisited

Mike Harris at the Davis Consulting Group blog links to a 2014 list of 11 Essential Programming Languages from Baseline Magazine:

If you want to learn about the hottest programming languages today, don't miss this list from IEEE Spectrum. This respected organization, which has 400,000 members and is considered the world's largest association of technology professionals, enlisted the services of Nick Diakopoulos, a well-known computational journalist and assistant professor at the University of Maryland, to compile the language rankings. Diakopoulos proceeded by weighing and combining 12 metrics from 10 sources, including IEEE Xplore, Google and GitHub. The result is a compilation of languages that cover big data analytics, graphics, system administration, network programming and virtually every other tech-supported function.

IEEE’s interactive list, which you can explore here, generates customized rankings for various sectors (Web, embedded, enterprise). In evaluating the results, it makes sense to ask, “What makes a programming language, ‘essential’?” Language popularity can be measured several ways:

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Languages QSM Database

New Article: Obey the (Software) Laws

Obey the (Software) Laws

The modern enterprise is software dependent. Whether you develop software in house, commission custom software, or purchase and install commercial software products, software projects are an important cost component and must be well planned and executed. But top-tier business leaders are rarely involved in the day-to-day management of software projects. Their job is to make decisions that affect a firm's strategic direction, policies and profitability. Business leaders can, however, establish procedures and practices that help projects succeed. In this new series for Projects at Work, Don Beckett explores how. The first article outlines the five fundamental "laws" of software development that all executives (and teams) should understand and follow.

Read the article!

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Articles Project Management

QSM attends Gartner Conference with Big Focus on IT Budgeting and Vendor Management Initiatives

QSM Booth at Gartner Symposium

The QSM team thoroughly enjoyed our time at the Gartner Symposium/ITXPO in Orlando a couple of weeks ago. We spent most of our time at the QSM exhibit, networking sessions, and at various presentation sessions.

We met many C-Level executives with process improvement on their mind. Our main focus was to learn about their specific needs in the IT budgeting and vendor management areas. We conducted question and answer sessions and provided real world examples on how to use business and software analytics to manage the complexities of IT budgeting, taking into account in-house projects as well as the project durations and costs proposed by their vendors.

Many of the senior executives we spoke with also had a need to integrate cost, duration and resource information with their project portfolio management solutions. The big focus was leveraging demand management to improve capacity planning. We provided demonstrations showing the SLIM-PPM Integration Framework which provides the release level cost, effort, resources and schedules that PPM solutions need validated to reduce risk in the enterprise portfolio.

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QSM News IT Budgeting

New Article: The QSM Agile Round Table

QSM Agile Round Table

For well over a decade, agile software development methods have been adopted by a wide variety of software organizations across the globe.  QSM has worked with these types of software organizations for more than 35 years to establish data-driven, defensible estimation and lifecycle management practices as the foundation of quality software projects and products. The QSM Agile Round Table was formed to provide a platform to brainstorm the role of estimation in agile environments, and chart a path toward better understanding for all stakeholders.  A mixture of long-standing and newer customers shared their questions, challenges, and experiences to answer the big question, and effectively communicate the relevance and benefits of scope-based estimation.  This article by QSM's Laura Zuber is the first of the QSM Agile Round Table series of publications that will present specific concepts and practices that connect SLIM and agile, creating common ground for the benefit of all.  It is our hope that this series will answer some of your questions, and that you will share your thoughts.  

Read the article!

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Agile Articles

Webinar Replay: Best Practices for IT Portfolio Budgeting

IT Portfolio Budgeting

If you were unable to attend our recent webinar, a replay is now available.

IT budgeting is anything but simple, so why do so many organizations do it in an overly simplistic way? Instead of relying upon detailed task-based spreadsheets and wild guesses, IT budgeting should be leveraging historical data and predictive modeling. This webinar will discuss the business process and application of estimation to the challenges of building the annual IT budget. Presented by QSM Co-CEO and industry expert Doug Putnam, the webinar will focus on how this process can support the following aspects of portfolio management:

  • Pipeline - Demand Management
  • Risk Management
  • Resource Management
  • Financial Management

Doug Putnam will demonstrate how a macro-level estimation process can leverage the very basic information typically available early in the development cycle to generate release level budgeting information. He will then show how to aggregate the releases to provide portfolio level assessment and adjustments that will conform to business level constraints. This webinar will be useful for anyone involved in or responsible for building the annual IT budget. 

Watch the replay!

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IT Budgeting Webinars