Capacity Planning

Capacity Planning

Estimating Program Increment Capacity in Scaled Agile (SAFe)

Scaled Agile (SAFe) is a methodology that applies Agile concepts to large complex environments.  QSM recently worked with an organization that had implemented SAFe to develop an estimation methodology specifically tailored to it.  This article discusses how it was implemented.

Software estimation typically addresses three concerns:  staffing, cost/effort, and schedule.  In the SAFe environment, however, development is done in program increments (PI) that in this case were three months in duration with two-week sprints throughout.  Staffing was set at a predetermined level and varied very little during the PI.  Thus, the three variable elements that are normally estimated (staff, cost/effort, and schedule) had already been determined in advance.  So, our job was done, right?  Wrong!  What remained to be determined was capacity:  the amount to be accomplished in a single PI.  And that was a very sore “pain point” for the organization. 

Blog Post Categories 
Agile Estimation Capacity Planning

Getting Staffing Right is the Key to Software Development Nirvana

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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.

New Article: Common Ground Through PPM

Project Portfolio Planning

The most effective project portfolio planning brings IT managers and business leaders together to prioritize, scope and staff initiatives as a single team with common goals. In doing so, the process fosters better working relationships — and provides a roadmap for delivering value to the organization. In this article for Projects at Work, Larry Putnam, Jr. outlines best practices on how to determine the maximum capabilities that can be delivered within the confines of budgets, resources, and time. 

Read the full article!

Three Strategies for Successful 2017 Project Portfolio Planning

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As we move closer to the end of the year, many of us are in planning mode. We’re working hard to determine which development projects are going to get done next year, and which ones may have to wait their turn until 2018.

No one should go it alone, though. Business executives need input from IT managers to truly gauge the feasibility of developing the projects that are on their list. Likewise, IT managers need insight into the expectations of business executives so they can produce the products they need.

That’s what makes project portfolio planning so essential. It brings business stakeholders and IT managers together by allowing them to communicate with each other about needs and expectations, and to find common ground that leads to realistic project estimates that help shape the course of successful development for the next 12 months.

It also helps establish a clear product roadmap. It’s not uncommon for organizations to start out with a long list of “to-do’s” every year, but doing everything is simply unrealistic. Therefore, it’s important to identify and prioritize projects that will bring your company the best ROI and help it meet overall strategic goals over the course of the next year.

How Can We Make Annual IT Budgeting Easier?

One of the things I hear from many c-level managers is how difficult it is and how long it takes to generate reliable resource plans at the enterprise level. Many organizations take months to generate their annual budgets and often times the negotiated budgets end up being unrealistic. To fix this problem we need to combine good capacity planning with good demand management. There are a number of project portfolio management tools to help with the capacity planning. The problem is the numbers will be off if we don’t get the demand management part right.

There are world class demand management tools available that can be used by business decision makers. These tools allow us to come up with empirically based, reliable project and enterprise level resource plans. In the SLIM-Estimate view below you can see the forecasted effort by role by month.

IT Budget Planning

The view below shows the plan being sanity checked with industry data so we can better negotiate our budgets with confidence.

IT Budget Planning

The even bigger news is that we can automatically feed our empirically based demand numbers into our PPM tools, making the job of capacity planning much easier and more reliable. In the view below you can see two separate plans, represented in side by side columns. The original PPM plan was updated automatically from an empirically based and sanity checked plan from SLIM-Estimate.

Webinar Replay: Top Down Resource Demand - The Missing Ingredient in Resource Capacity Planning

If you were unable to attend our recent webinar presented by QSM's Andy Berner, a replay is now available.

As companies try to innovate and at the same time keep software development costs in line, balancing the projects you plan with the resources you need becomes a major challenge. Portfolio and resource management systems, such as CA PPM (formerly known as CA Clarity), have many of the ingredients you need to meet that challenge, but a key ingredient is missing: credible resource demand for the projects you plan to do.

Andy Berner shows how QSM SLIM-Estimate’s Top-Down Resource Demand capabilities provide that missing ingredient. He explains how SLIM-Estimate predicts resource needs for your projects and why it provides the best demand estimates for resource planning. He demonstrates how SLIM-Estimate provides demand information in a way that matches your resource planning process, and how integration with SLIM-Estimate enables the successful use of the resource management capabilities of your portfolio management system.

Watch the replay!

New Article: Failing with the Best Intentions

Failing with the Best Intentions

Enterprise application capacity planning is a difficult juggling act. On one side of the equation you have business demand, looking for innovative technology to help improve business performance and increase profitability. The IT organization stands on the other side of the equation, responsible for satisfying these demands. The capacity of this team is limited by the organization’s facilities, the number of developers and their specific skills, and the infrastructure and tools they use. This leaves the business and technology executives in the unenviable position of trying to balance the demand for IT development with the current capacity levels. In this article for Software Magazine, Doug Putnam and Taylor Putnam-Majarian demonstrate how top-down parametric estimation can be leveraged by organizations to manage capacity and demand effectively.

Read the full article!

Webinar - IT Demand Management and Capacity Planning: Why Estimation Is Vital to Balancing the Scale

On Wednesday, Nov. 13 at 11:00 AM EST, QSM's Larry Putnam, Jr. will present IT Demand Management and Capacity Planning: Why Estimation Is Vital to Balancing the Scale, a PDU-approved webinar for ITMPI.

Estimation is critical to IT demand management as today's senior IT executives deal with a familiar challenge - how to balance the size of the development team with the company's software wish list. Modern estimation techniques offer critical insight into this challenge. In this webinar, you will learn the ins and outs of estimation and how to effectively utilize estimation to ensure project success.

Larry Putnam, Jr. has 25 years of experience using the Putnam-SLIM Methodology. He has participated in hundreds of estimation and oversight service engagements, and is responsible for product management of the SLIM-Suite of measurement tools and customer care programs. Larry has delivered numerous speeches at conferences on software estimation and measurement, and has trained - over a five-year period - more than 1,000 software professionals on industry best practice measurement, estimation and control techniques and in the use of the SLIM-Suite.

Register now!

From Proposal to Project Webinar Replay and Q&A Highlights

From Proposal to Project: Getting Resource Demand Early

QSM's recent webinar, From Proposal to Project: Getting Resource Demand Early, presented by Andy Berner and Keith Ciocco, featured a thoughtful Q&A session from our audience. Here are the highlights:

Q: Which PPM products does SLIM work with right now?

A: We're working with customers to see what products they're interested in. It's adaptable to multiple PPM systems and we'd like your input on which ones we should deliver for you early. We can work with you so you can build a customized input to your own system. So the framework is very general and is released as part of the SLIM product. We will be providing adapters to common PPM systems and that's what we would like to learn from our design partners - which ones to deliver first. (Note: if you are a SLIM customer or prospect, you can request to join our design group by emailing Keith Ciocco).

Q: You showed SLIM-WebServices. Does that come with the desktop tool? Do you use them separately or together?

Webinar - From Proposal to Project: Getting Resource Demand Early

A replay is available for this webinar, From Proposal to Project: Getting Resource Demand Early, presented by Andy Berner and Keith Ciocco.

When evaluating proposals, any good project manager knows it doesn't do any good to charter a project if the right people aren't available or if the cost and schedule are unrealistic. It becomes very important early on in the proposal process to be able to run accurate feasibility estimates that produce skilled staff outputs, matching resources needed for a project to the resources you have. This webinar, presented by QSM's Andy Berner and Keith Ciocco, demonstrates a powerful top-down approach, which allows organizations to do early resource planning and powerful what-if analysis without breaking out the work breakdown structure (WBS). This process matches the supply to the demand and is easy, credible, and correct.

Dr. Andy Berner has helped organizations improve their software development processes for over 20 years. He has "hands-on" experience with almost every role in software development. He is on the QSM software development team and is leading the work at QSM to incorporate Agile techniques into and enhance the resource demand management capabilities of the SLIM-Suite. He has recently published several articles on Agile methods and practices, focusing on planning projects to set realistic expectations. He has spoken at numerous conferences on software tools and methods, often with an emphasis on how to make sure that tools serve the team, rather than the other way around. He has an A.B. cum Laude in Mathematics from Harvard University, a Ph.D. in Mathematics from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and has seven US Patents.