Practical Software Measurement

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New Article: Top-Down Estimation Can Drive Efficient And Boundaryless Software Development

Efficient Software Development

In 1990, former General Electric CEO Jack Welch wrote a prophetic passage in the company’s annual report. “Our dream for the 1990’s is a boundaryless company…where we knock down the walls that separate us from each other on the inside.” However, large enterprises who have attempted to live by Welch’s dream remain hampered by set hierarchies: development teams and product owners exist on one level, business management and system engineers on another, while enterprise architects and portfolio managers reside atop the organizational food chain. Employing a top-down estimation approach to project management can help organizations overcome boundaries and satisfy the three V’s of corporate success – vision, value, and velocity. This article, originally published in ISV Insights, takes a closer look at how this approach can work for software companies, particularly larger organizations, to help them improve project management, team collaboration, and development practices.

Read the article!

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Articles Estimation

Can Someone Get Me A Big Picture Estimate?

It’s a story we hear a lot in the software business these days, especially with agile development. New functionality is needed within a certain amount of time and within a certain budget. 

Some might say, "no problem! We can figure it out as we go along." They might feel comfortable because each sprint has already been set in stone.  But there are business-related questions that need to be answered before sprint-level planning takes place and before we commit to goals that might not be achievable at the release and portfolio levels. Should we agree to do this project? Can we really get all of the work done within our constraints? Will the software be reliable at delivery? How does this project impact our annual and multi-year forecasts? 

This is where having reliable big picture numbers can be helpful. Wouldn’t it be great if senior management and the technical team were on the same page early? There are empirically-based estimation tools that can help. The naysayers might say that the technical requirements aren’t firm enough to come up with early estimates before the sprint planning takes place. But the fact is that some of these models (the good ones) allow for managing uncertainty and they do it based on historical data. The slide below shows a summary example of a release-level estimate for cost, duration, and reliability.

Software Estimate

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Estimation Agile

Eight Valuable Resources for Software Project Success in 2018

Eight Software Project Resources for 2018

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 software execution has always been about having the most relevant data at your fingertips, but there are more ways to gain knowledge beyond graphs and charts. The sharing of best practices and information on the latest solutions, along with access to communities of like-minded individuals, can also be powerful tools for managers responsible for delivering development projects within budget and on-schedule.

At QSM, we strive to provide not just the tools, but also the information needed to help these individuals succeed. That’s why, as we look forward to 2018, we are excited to offer a wealth of resources that go well beyond our SLIM-Suite of estimation tools. These eight resources provide insight and knowledge into some of the most important components of software estimation, including agile development and project management, as well as information specifically for SLIM users.

Agile Development

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Estimation Agile Project Management

New Article: Using Parametric Estimation for Large-Scale IT Infrastructure Projects

Estimating Infrastructure

Large-scale IT infrastructure projects require an enormous amount of planning, design, configuration and testing to ensure that everything is working correctly and properly transitioned once the work is done. This takes time and resources. Like their software counterparts, IT infrastructure projects are more likely to be successful — more efficient, secure, and reliable — when accompanied by robust estimation and planning processes. In this article for ProjectManagement.com, Larry Putnam, Jr. and Joe Madden identify best practices for applying parametric estimation to IT infrastructure projects.

Read the article!

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Infrastructure Articles Estimation

Building Better Cybersecurity Through Parametric Estimation

Estimating Cybersecurity

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.

Despite the best efforts of federal agencies and the near constant media coverage of threats, most government cybersecurity initiatives remain reactive. Once a threat is detected, agency teams typically scramble to identify the source of the intrusion and take necessary steps to mitigate its impact. The nature of the business can make planning and, therefore, budgeting a seemingly impossible task.

Unfortunately, federal IT security professionals’ and program managers’ hands are tied, thanks to limited budgets and time. They worry about the costs and schedules involved in proactively creating a compelling cybersecurity program. Beyond that, they traditionally have not had the necessary tools to develop accurate estimates of what it will take to create these programs. They have been left only able to make educated guesses that leave them stuck in reactive mode.

Agency project managers need to be able to build and develop their cybersecurity systems just as they would a software project. They need accurate planning and estimation that will allow them to consider timeframes, appropriate staff, potential costs, quality, risk, and other key factors.

QSM’s Proven Estimation Approach Applied to Cybersecurity

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Cyber Security

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