Practical Software Measurement
In a recent, highly-discussed article for Dr. Dobb's, QSM's Carol Dekkers asks a tough question: why are we so woefully poor at estimating software projects? It's a tough pill to swallow considering software developers are among the smartest people on the planet, often boasting advanced degrees in mathematics, engineering, or computer science. Yet study upon study cites that less than one-third of projects are delivered on time or on budget. The problem of software project estimation is not straightforward. To get the heart of the issue, Carol Dekkers takes us through the five top misperceptions about software estimating, and what we can do to address them.
The new look and feel of the default workbooks in SLIM Suite are based around infographic and dashboard design principles. Information Dashboard Design by Stephen Few served as an excellent resource for updating the views and color schemes in SLIM Suite 8.2. Our goal in updating the look and feel of SLIM-Suite 8.2 was to highlight the pertinent inputs and outputs in bright, bold colors and to allow other view elements like gridlines or historic data to fade into the background by using more muted colors, allowing you to focus on the important metrics when making key management decisions.
New views in SLIM-Estimate
We know agile works well for small teams and small projects, but monster enterprise projects often require greater capabilities than a small team can provide. So why not scale up agile teams to maintain the cost and efficiency benefits of the agile process while accessing the necessary manpower to pursue complex global projects? On the surface, it makes sense, but what if agile only works when teams and projects stay relatively small? That's the question most CIOs want answered before investing scarce time, energy, or resources chasing the big agile paradigm. In this article recently published on Agile Connection, QSM's Larry Putnam, Jr. turns to cold hard data from completed projects in the QSM database to determine whether big agile is "enterprise savior or oxymoron."
The problems of software projects are concentrated in three areas: schedule, cost, and quality. These problems have accompanied software development from the beginning, so they are not new. Nor have they been ignored. Huge amounts of thought and effort have been focused on them with unfortunately modest results. Improvement efforts have been concentrated on management technique (think PMO), process improvement (CMMI, for example), and better tools. These are all good things, and I can’t imagine embarking on a development activity of any magnitude without them. However, they have not significantly reduced the incidence of schedule, budget, and quality problems. Since the problems remain, obviously these remedies have not effectively addressed the root causes of schedule and cost overruns and poor quality.
After enduring the longest winter I can remember, I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of spring, and what better way to do that than to participate in QSM’s annual March Madness Tournament? For those of you not familiar with our March Madness pool, it’s kind of a big deal. The top finisher receives a portion of the winnings as well as bragging rights for the following year, and in the process gains immunity from being subject to ridicule by our Commish. This year the steaks are especially high, as Warren Buffet has offered $1 billion to the person who can guess the perfect bracket.
I think it’s safe to say that nobody really enjoys hearing bad news. It’s especially hard if you’re the person who has to deliver the bad news, particularly to a superior. How will your boss react? Will you be the one held responsible (unfairly) for the project failure? These are all reasons for keeping the ‘bad news’ to yourself and letting those in charge find out on their own.
QSM is pleased to announce the release of SLIM Suite 8.2, which, for the first time, provides the ability to perform enhanced top-down estimation for capacity planning. Unlike other resource demand management tools that rely on bottom-up estimates, QSM is the first in the industry to provide detailed resource breakdowns, utilizing a more accurate top-down approach. Top-down estimation accounts for even the unpredictable aspects of IT project implementation that a bottom-up approach does not, such as unrealistic project goals, miscommunication among team members and rework, which may account for up to 60% of the total effort on a project. With this information, project managers can more confidently choose the project team and assign the detailed tasks to the team at hand, improving accuracy for planning and executing successful IT projects while fully utilizing existing resources for individual projects, as well as longer term resource capacity planning.
As a project manager who is new to formal project estimating, I’ve been hearing about the importance of having project histories available for accurate estimating. We just purchased SLIM-Estimate but we don’t have any project history. Can we still use SLIM, and how many projects do we need before we can get accurate estimates?
– PM in Atlanta
I work in IT and we do a lot of our software development projects based on pre-defined delivery dates (no one really knows where they come from). Sometimes this works out, but usually we end up delivering the project months late because we had no idea the project was as big or as complex as anyone had originally thought. A friend says his company uses “t-shirt sizing” for project estimates and I’ve never heard of it. What can you tell me about this new approach?
- I’m willing to learn from the fashion industry
Dear I’m willing:
Sometimes business life follows literature. Recently, I came across the following quote and I had to pause:
“Before we build a better mousetrap, we need to find
out if there are any mice out there.” - Yogi Berra