Practical Software Measurement

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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

New Article: Estimation Center of Excellence

Estimation Center of Excellence

Why do so many companies fail at software development projects? More often than not, they haven’t built a foundation of process, people and tools to accurately plan and estimate. An Estimation Center of Excellence is a great starting point to bring these components together and maximize their benefits. In this article for Projects at Work, Larry Putnam, Jr. describes how all of these components work together to help organizations achieve software project success.

Read the article!

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Articles Estimation

New Webinar: Best Practices for IT Portfolio Budgeting

Webinar presented by Doug Putnam on Wednesday, Oct. 12 at 1:00 PM EDT.

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!

Blog Post Categories 
Webinars IT Budgeting

Join QSM at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2016

Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2016
16 - 20 October 2016 | Orlando, FL
gartner.com/us/symposium

Thinking about attending the upcoming Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2016, October 16 – 20, in Orlando, FL? As a sponsor, we’d like to invite you to see a demonstration of our SLIM Suite project estimation and business analytics solution at the Solution Showcase. Stop by QSM booth #1056 and enter our drawing to win a free “Quick-look IT Budgeting Maturity Assessment” - a $5000 value. 

All CIOs and IT leaders have unique goals and challenges around two key areas: aligning to their CEOs' business priorities and advancing their careers, digital roadmaps and organizational influence. Gartner Symposium/ITxpo helps you address both, with a flexible, accessible agenda mapped to your top priorities and anchored in three key areas: Technology and Information, Leadership and Business Strategy. From future trends to surprising revelations about what global CIOs really think, you'll hear it first at Gartner Symposium/ITxpo - directly from the experts who devote their careers to exploring what's over the horizon. 

Register now with priority code SPSYM189 and save $550 off the standard registration rate.

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QSM News

New Article: Five Steps to Taking the Guesswork Out of Project Budgeting

IT Budgeting

IT project budgeting is a necessary evil in every organization, but it’s becoming increasingly apparent that traditional approaches aren’t incredibly effective. It is possible to make this challenging task better by breaking with tradition and thinking about budgeting differently. Today, most organizations approach budgeting in an overly simplistic manner: a manager makes a call for project estimates and receives responses based on expert opinions, task-based spreadsheets, anticipated budget restrictions, available resources, and – let’s face it – wild guesses. Most often, the estimates are nothing more than a collection of hours, with no differentiation by job role or schedule. This inefficient process can result in 40 percent of projects missing their marks, simply because they weren’t budgeted accurately. Let’s take the guesswork out of the equation. In this article for Bright Hub Project Management, QSM's Doug Putnam provides a few simple steps to ensure that your projects remain on point – and on budget.

Read the full article!

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IT Budgeting Articles

Eliminating the 18-Hour Work Day in Software Development

Software Development "Death March"

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.

It may seem absurd to think about working an 18-hour day, but it happens all the time in the software development community. If managers don’t accurately estimate project schedules based on a clearly defined scope of work, managers and their development teams may find themselves working long days to deliver on promised deadlines and deliverables.

Being overworked in an environment where a project is running over schedule can also lead to the delivery of a defective or flawed product, which is bad for both the development organization and the business unit for which the product is being developed. One article that I read recently states that time pressures cause employees to cut corners and that the 18-hour workday does not allow for forward or creative thinking. This can be disastrous to an organization that values both the quality of work and the out-of-the-box thinking of its development team.

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Schedule Estimation

Estimating Plays a Vital Role in Agile – Dad Says So!

#yesestimates for agileRecently a friend of mine sent me a link to a YouTube video featuring Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber, the founders of Scrum, discussing the latest update to the 2016 Scrum Guide.  The updates to the guide were comprised of survey feedback from the Scrum community, with the goal to understand what is important to them that should be included in the updated Scrum guide.  

The most compelling part of this discussion for anyone contemplating whether estimating belongs in Scrum happens at the 32:10 point.  Jeff and Ken are posed the question, “what is the difference between a forecast and an estimate?”   They answer with the idea that many people confuse the word estimate with commitment, which plagues any development effort regardless of method.  Subsequently Jeff and Ken changed the word “estimate” to “forecast” in the latest Scrum Guide to reflect the ever-changing growth and reduction in project scope, i.e., the estimate will show our best commitment and what we think is going to happen.  That can change once the project starts, BUT, we can measure that too through forecasting, essentially re-estimating throughout the project.  

Blog Post Categories 
Agile Estimation

New Article: The Importance of Continuous Tracking

Importance of Continuous Software Project Tracking

Developing early software project estimates is an industry best practice, but creating those estimates is only half the battle when it comes to improving productivity. By continually keeping the pulse of a project—measuring performance against estimates and adjusting when necessary—teams can gain valuable insight into their software development processes. This insight can be leveraged in future development cycles, leading to more efficient production and a better bottom line. Estimates are just the beginning. In this article for Project Times, Larry Putnam, Jr. explains how project tracking, reforecasting, and post project review are three valuable strategies teams can employ to monitor the development process and improve outcomes.

Read the article!

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Project Management

Is There a Better Way to Do Agile Planning?

Plan Agile Projects BetterThere are so many questions around agile planning, one of the biggest being: do we need an estimate? Project managers and scrum masters will spend months developing a system either for internal use or for their clients, yet some of them say that estimates are not needed. Some recommend starting the project without an estimate. They say they will see how the first few weeks go before they generate an estimate. Others say not to worry about an estimate at all; they are a waste of time.

The problem with those recommendations is that there are business decisions that need to be made regarding whether or not to even start the project. Reliable estimates for cost and duration are needed to make these decisions. Also, for the projects that do move forward, there is usually limited information available early in the lifecycle, not enough to provide a detailed plan. Product owners need to see the big picture before a reliable detailed plan is generated.

There is also the IT manager that needs to figure out how they will allocate their resources. There is the vendor manager that needs to evaluate multiple bids for a large software system that could cost the company millions of dollars. There is the proposal manager that needs to write a proposal that must be cost competitive to win business. And, there is an annual budget at stake and the CIO needs to know how much money their development organization is going to spend over the next 12 months. You can’t support these decisions in the best way possible without reliable release level estimates.

Blog Post Categories 
Agile Estimation