Practical Software Measurement

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Be SAFe: Using Top-down Estimation to Align Vision, Value, and Velocity in Your Organization

This post was originally published on Linkedin. Join the QSM Linkedin Group and Company Page to stay up-to-date with more content like this.

Successful product development involves aligning the three V’s of corporate success – vision, value, and velocity. Organizations must establish a product development visionthat will help them achieve their goals. Their agile development teams must show valueby delivering products that meet this vision. Finally, these teams must be able to accurately plan and estimate velocity – the amount of work completed during a “sprint,” or specified period of development time -- and factors that could impede that velocity.

Unfortunately, these three V’s exist on different spheres in many organizations. Enterprises tend to be built in silos, with development teams and product owners on a foundational level, product management and system engineers on the next, and enterprise architects and portfolio managers at the top.

Disconnect and misalignment within this hierarchy can lead to inefficiencies and undermine agile development efforts. The point of agile is to be able to iterate product development at a faster and more efficient pace, in turn allowing teams to deliver consistent and maximum business value. That requires communication and teamwork amongst everyone involved in the product development process, including portfolio managers, product owners, solution managers, and more. But scaling agile within organizations can be very challenging -- in large part due to the hierarchies that are especially prevalent in larger enterprises.

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Agile

QSM's New Online User Forum

QSM recently launched a new online user forum program specifically for our clients. Hosted monthly, these user forums allow current users of our SLIM-Suite to ask questions and share tips on how they are currently using the tools. The theme of our most recent forum was "More than One Way to Skin an Estimate," which reviewed SLIM-Estimate solution methods and different ways to approach estimating challenges that users might have in their particular project environment. Moderated by Lead Support Representative and Trainer Laura Zuber, Laura started the meeting by revisiting the software production equation, which shows the relationship between size, effort, time, and productivity. By rearranging the equation different ways, the user can solve for what they don't know. This is the basis of our new redesigned solution wizards: Balanced Risk, ROM Estimate, Fixed Resources, Bid Evaluation/Playback, Time-Boxed, and Re-Estimate an In-Flight Project. After Laura gave a live demonstration of these wizards, we received great feedback from users that they found them more intuitive and helpful resources to get the answers they need. 

After the demo, clients were able to ask questions and share helpful tips and tricks that they have discovered in the tools. One user particularly liked analyzing scope creep using the Size Growth Analysis feature, while another recommended using the trend mix feature when estimating a complex project. Laura also took feedback and product feature requests. This is the kind of close feedback we want from our customers to get them the best value possible from our tools.

This user forum was a great success and we look forward to hosting these sessions regularly in the future. If you are SLIM-Suite user and would like to participate, please contact us.

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QSM News SLIM Suite SLIM-Estimate

New Article: 5 Software Laws For Smooth Product Development

 

Software Executive Magazine

QSM's Larry Putnam, Jr. and Don Beckett recently published "5 Software Laws for Smooth Product Development" in Software Executive Magazine. Corporate executives are often removed from the daily ins and outs of software development and execution by necessity. Since their focus is on long-term projects and goals that will lead to profitability, they don't have time to be part of daily development meetings. Even so, executives should take steps to ensure they are firmly in the loop with software development projects, especially in the critical planning phases prior to project kickoff. This article identifies five core software development laws software executives should be mindful of to ensure their organizations software projects stay on schedule and within budget.

Read the article!

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Articles

IT Cost Optimization and Cloud Solutions at Gartner Symposium/ITXpo

QSM at Gartner Symposium/ITXpo

The QSM team had a productive trip to the Gartner Symposium in Orlando. It's always helpful for us to discuss IT current trends and challenges with the people in our industry. Many of these themes came to light as we provided SLIM-Suite product demonstrations along with question and answer sessions at the QSM exhibit.

One of the big areas of interest at the conference was IT cost optimization, which is also one of QSM’s main areas of expertise. I hosted a presentation called “Cost Optimization Best Practices for IT Portfolio Budgeting.” The main focus of the presentation was to show how we can leverage empirically-based models and predictive analytics to balance enterprise demand with capacity and at the same time save big money in the IT budgeting process. The presentation was well-attended and a meet and greet session followed where our QSM team, consisting of Ethan Avery, Richard Pelaez, Greta Moen, and I, provided solution demonstrations and answered questions.

Another big focus of the conference was related to cloud solutions and how they will affect the internet of things and artificial intelligence. Our team featured our cloud solution, SLIM-Collaborate, which provides portfolio analytics and the ability to estimate the cost and risk of creating new software technologies. We provided examples of how we support all types of software & systems projects and explained the benefits of having a secure process for leveraging this information across the enterprise.

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IT Budgeting QSM News

Webinar: Best Practices for IT Portfolio Budgeting

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's Larry Putnam Jr. on October 11 at 11:00 AM EST, this upcoming ITMPI webinar will focus on how this process can support the following aspects of portfolio management: Pipeline - Demand Management, Risk Management, Resource Management, or Financial Management. Larry 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. 

Register for this webinar!

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Webinars IT Budgeting Demand Management

Getting Staffing Right is the Key to Software Development Nirvana

This post was originally published on Linkedin. Join the QSM Linkedin Group and Company Page to stay up-to-date with more content like this.

Enterprise IT teams have been searching for years for the Holy Grail of software development: the greatest possible efficiency, at the least possible cost, without sacrificing quality.

This endless search has taken many forms over the years. Twenty years ago, development teams turned to waterfall methodologies as a saving grace. Soon after, waterfall begat object-oriented incremental or spiral, Rational Unified Development (RUP) practices.

Today, it’s agile development’s turn in the spotlight. C-suite executives are investing huge sums of money to develop their organizations’ agile methodologies. They’re also committing significant resources to train employees to work within agile frameworks.

Yet many projects are still failing, clients remain unsatisfied, and IT departments are often unable to meet scheduling deadlines. Why?

It’s the staff, not the method.

Whenever a project falls behind schedule, the natural inclination is to add more staff. There’s a belief that doing so will accelerate development and, ultimately, help the team hit their deadlines.

Gartner Symposium Presentation: Cost Optimization for IT Portfolio Budgeting

QSM is pleased to announce Keith Ciocco will be presenting "Cost Optimization for IT Portfolio Budgeting" on Monday, October 2 at 6:10 PM on the Emerging Technologies Stage at the upcoming Gartner Symposium/ITXpo. This presentation will highlight cost optimization techniques in the annual IT budgeting process. Instead of relying upon detailed task-based spreadsheets and wild guesses, attendees will learn how to leverage historical data and predictive modeling for more accurate and cost-effective IT budgeting.

Additionally, QSM will be exhibiting SLIM tools and consulting services in the Emerging Technologies Area. Stop by booth ET14 to get a live demo and learn more about our IT budgeting and demand management solutions.

 

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QSM News IT Budgeting

How Can Organizations Optimize Costs in the IT Budgeting Process?

It’s that time of year again for many C-level executives: time to figure out the IT budget for next year. This is to bring the business side of the organization to the table with the technical side to forecast how much IT is going to spend. It can be a complicated process, but there are ways to make it easier and more accurate; and there are ways to save a lot of time and money. The challenges often relate to short planning time frames, minimal information available to generate accurate forecasts, political agendas within the organization, and, unfortunately, only a small number of estimation methods in place. But there are tools and processes available to help face these challenges. Here are the basic steps that we recommend for cost optimization in the budgeting process.

Start by analyzing the historical data that is available. The process can be streamlined by focusing on the core metrics within the organization. This data can include release level size, effort, staff, and duration information. Historical data showing typical effort by role by month spending is also valuable to leverage. Ideally, this type of data should be captured on 8-15 projects.

The next step is to pull together scope level sizing data on projects that are being considered for the new year. This information can include epics, themes, user stories, business requirements, or use cases, to name a few. The goal here is to get as close as possible to determining how much work needs to be done on each release in the pipeline. Once there is a large enough sample of data, then release level estimates can be created for the coming year. There are tools available to help streamline this process and the best ones allow for risk mitigation and sanity checking with historical data.  

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IT Budgeting Estimation

New Article: Measuring Effort and Productivity of Agile Projects

Agile Effort

QSM recently published the seventh and final article in the QSM Agile Round Table series. The QSM Agile Round Table was formed to discuss the role of estimation in agile environments. QSM customers shared their questions, challenges, and experiences on the relevance and benefits of scope-based estimation in an agile environment. Participants had several questions about measuring effort and productivity, and whether there are special issues around how to define and collect these metrics in an agile environment. In this article, Andy Berner identifies best practices for measuring effort and productivity in agile and discusses how the two are related.

Read the article!

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Articles Agile Productivity Effort

ISMA 14 Workshop: Applying Function Point Rules to Emerging Technologies

Function Point Workshop

We are pleased to announce that QSM Lead Trainer and Senior Consultant Pam Simonovich will be presenting a workshop focused on applying function point rules to emerging technologies at the upcoming ISMA 14 on September 13. She will also be giving away VR Elegiant Virtual Reality Glasses to one lucky participant!

Today’s sizing expert must be able to accurately apply function point counting rules and SNAP counting rules to a variety of software environments and technologies. This hands-on interactive workshop will prepare you to apply counting rules to the ever-popular gaming Industry and promises to include such technologies as Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality, Cloud computing, etc. The contents of the course will be reinforced with examples and hands-on case studies.

The workshop schedule will be as follows:

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Function Points Training QSM News