Practical Software Measurement

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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

How Can I Tell When My Software will be Reliable Enough to Deliver?

Usually when I am online making a payment or using social media, I am not thinking about software quality. But lately I feel like I have been encountering more bugs than usual.  From activities like clicking on a link where I should be able to input my payment information, to doing a search and receiving an error message, or being redirected to a completely different page which had nothing to do with the mission I had set out to accomplish.  These bugs are sometimes frustrating and I started to wonder what could have been done to prevent these from being released into production.

Since I spend a lot of time speaking with people that manage software projects, I have noticed that quality is often one of the most overlooked aspects of a software system. People I’ve spoken with have mentioned that quality is often not even discussed during the early planning stages of development projects, but it is usually a deciding factor when the software is ready to be released and should be considered from the beginning of the project.

Using a tool like SLIM early in the planning stages of a project can help us with these issues. Not only can it provide reliable cost and schedule estimates, but it can also help estimate how many defects one can expect to find between system test and actual delivery. It can also estimate the Mean Time to Defect (MTTD), which is the amount of time between errors discovered.

Software Defect Tracking

New Article: Determining a Gearing Factor for Story Points

Agile Stories Gearing Factor

QSM recently published the sixth 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. The previous two articles focused on determining size in a consistent enough manner across multiple products, projects, and agile teams in order to have good historical data on which to base an estimate. They looked at several possible units of measure for software size, including story points, function points, and source lines of code (SLOC). SLIM-Estimate and SLIM-Collaborate permit any of those units, as well as others, to be used for software sizing. In order to use a sizing unit other than SLOC in the SLIM tools, you must assign a gearing factor.  For function points, gearing factors are discussed here. In this article, QSM's Andy Berner addresses ways of choosing a gearing factor for story points.

Read the article!

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Articles Agile Sizing

New Article: Alternative Sizing Units for Agile Estimation

Alternative Sizing Units for Agile

QSM recently published the fifth 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. This article continues the focus from the previous article on determining size in a consistent enough manner across multiple products, projects, and agile teams so that you have good historical data on which to base an estimate. QSM's Andy Berner looks at other sizing units besides story points, in particular function points and source lines of code. 

Read the full article!

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Agile Articles Function Points

New Article: Sizing Agile Projects Consistently

Agile Sizing

QSM is pleased to share the fourth 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. The previous article in this series, “Big Rock Estimation” written by Aaron Jeutter from Rockwell Automation, addressed the question of how to determine the size of a release absent of a “big upfront requirements phase”, and thus when the requirements are only known at a very high level and subject to refinement and change.  The next three articles written by Andy Berner will focus on determining size in a consistent enough manner across multiple products, projects, and agile teams so that you have good historical data on which to base an estimate. They will also show how to apply these techniques with the SLIM Suite of products.

Read the full article!

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Articles Agile Sizing

Bringing Measurement to Agile

Executive teams and your end clients always want to know, “how good are our development teams?”  Agile development teams usually promise that they can deliver faster and cheaper with better quality.  But how do you truly know this is the case?  The only way to really know is to apply quantitative measurement to agile.  With the SLIM solution you can look at a completed agile project and determine the productivity that was demonstrated.  This productivity metric encompasses all environmental factors, such as how good is the skill level and experience of your development team?  How good are the tools and methodology in place?  What is the technical complexity of the software you are building? 

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Agile Database Productivity

What Our Major QSM Database Update Means to the Software and IT Community

QSM Database Update

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.

QSM recently announced a major update to the QSM Software Project Database, a large and robust body of data that helps software and IT professionals estimate the cost, time and effort requirements for their software and systems projects. As a result, QSM clients and SLIM Suite users can benefit from the most up-to-date and expansive software project benchmarking data, particularly in the agile domain.

With this large update, we’ve validated and added more than 2,500 new projects across nine major application domains (Avionics, IT, Command & Control, Microcode, Process Control, Real Time, Scientific, System Software, and Telecom) and 45 sub-domains. The result is a database with more than 13,000 completed projects, extending what is already the largest continuously updated software project metrics database in the world.

With these enhanced data insights -- all gathered from real-world projects -- SLIM Suite users have access to the most up-to-date software project benchmarking data and can quickly and easily sanity-check estimates against industry data.

IT and Agile Projects Get a Boost

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QSM Database Agile

Webinar: The Role of Scope-Based Forecasting in the Scaled Agile Framework

The Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) has realized widespread adoption by organizations desiring to accelerate product delivery without sacrificing quality. The alignment of product vision, business value, and development velocity is an key contributor to successful large-scale agile development.  Presented by QSM's Laura Zuber on June 20 at 11:00 AM EST, this upcoming ITMPI webinar demonstrates how scope-based estimation techniques can be used to model the relationship between vision, value, and velocity at different levels of the framework and stages of implementation to guide release planning and management decisions.

Laura Zuber has 25 years of experience in software development consulting, training, and support. She has conducted training and coaching sessions for all QSM SLIM-Suite tools and helped customers implement SLIM across a wide variety of processes and platforms. Laura has managed software development projects, served as a senior software process improvement specialist, performed process assessments, designed and implemented best practices, and authored numerous training programs. She is a Certified Scrum Master and lead consultant for using SLIM with agile development.

Register for this webinar!

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Webinars Agile Estimation