Project Management

Project Management

Eight Valuable Resources for Software Project Success in 2018

Eight Software Project Resources for 2018

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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: How to Avoid the 3 Top IT Project Risks

Government IT Project Risk

For a number of years, the federal government has been on a mission to reduce waste and enhance efficiencies across departments, including IT. But according to the CIO Council’s 2017 State of Federal Information Technology report, 43% of the federal government’s $80 billion in IT projects cataloged in September 2016 were listed as over budget or behind schedule. In this article for GCN, Doug Putnam takes a look at some of the common pitfalls that lead to project cost and schedule overruns and how parametric estimation can help government CIOs and their teams avoid these traps.

Read the article!

New Article: Using Software Project Metrics

Compare Project Plan to History

Software measurement by itself does not resolve budget, schedule or staffing issues for projects or portfolios, but it does provide a basis upon which informed decisions can be made. Here are examples of how to use metrics to determine present capabilities, assess whether plans are feasible, and explore trade-offs if they are not. This is the third article of a three part series by QSM's Don Beckett for Projects at Work. You can read the first article here and the second here.

Read the article!

New Article: A Lead Role in Software Success

A Lead Role in Software Success

When organizations base their decisions on desires instead of data, it usually backfires. Here are four important actions that executives, PMO directors and program leaders can take to improve the predictability and success rate of their software development and enhancement projects. This is the second article of a three part series by QSM's Don Beckett for Projects at Work. You can read the first article here.

Read the article!

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Articles Project Management

New Article: Obey the (Software) Laws

Obey the (Software) Laws

The modern enterprise is software dependent. Whether you develop software in house, commission custom software, or purchase and install commercial software products, software projects are an important cost component and must be well planned and executed. But top-tier business leaders are rarely involved in the day-to-day management of software projects. Their job is to make decisions that affect a firm's strategic direction, policies and profitability. Business leaders can, however, establish procedures and practices that help projects succeed. In this new series for Projects at Work, Don Beckett explores how. The first article outlines the five fundamental "laws" of software development that all executives (and teams) should understand and follow.

Read the article!

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Articles Project Management

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

New Article - 5 Core Metrics to Reduce Outsourced Software Project Failure

Software Estimation Best Practices

Outsourcing was supposed to make government IT executives’ lives easier. Yet in too many cases, it’s had the opposite effect, leading to cost overruns, inefficiencies, and solutions that do not work. Remember the initial rollout of Healthcare.gov? Exactly.

It doesn’t have to be this way.  Believe it or not, there’s a proven solution that has stood the test of time.  In 1977, Lawrence Putnam Sr. discovered the “physics” of how engineers build software by successfully modeling the nonlinear relationship between the five core metrics of software: product size, process productivity, schedule duration, effort and reliability. 

In this article for GCN, QSM's Joe Madden explains how the five core metrics of software estimation make a powerful tool that can be used at each phase of the software acquisition life cycle to help government IT program managers make more objective, quantitative decisions.

Read the full article!

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Articles Metrics Project Management

Can We Increase Project Success by Tracking the Big Picture?

Many of the project managers that I speak with track their software and systems projects at a very detailed level. They use detailed spreadsheets or other tools to track hours and tasks on a daily basis. This is fine, but it's important to manage the big picture so we can avoid assigning detailed tasks to duration and budget goals that are unrealistic.

By "big picture" I mean tracking at the project release level and focusing on a few key actuals: size, duration, effort, reliability, and efficiency. It's important to track these actuals to a reliable plan. These are the measures that can give us the biggest and quickest insight into a project’s potential success or failure. You can see this analysis in the SLIM-Control graphs below, showing the blue plans versus the red actuals.

Software Project Tracking

Once the project is underway and we start tracking the actuals, we can generate new project forecasts based on the actual work delivered, time elapsed, and effort spent. These new forecasts are empirically-based. This will enable us to adapt to change requests, see when the project will finish and how much it will cost. The SLIM-Control graphs below show the blue plans versus the red actuals plus the new forecasts shown in white. SLIM-Control is curve-fitting to the actuals and running empirically-based mathematical models to generate the new forecasts.

Software Project Forecast

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Project Management SLIM-Control

New Article: Avoiding a Doomed Software Project by Checking the Staff Build-Up Plan

Forecasting from Defect Signals

The staff build-up plan defines how many, what kind, and when staff are needed for the entire project. Too many or too few, bringing them on too early or late, employing the wrong mix of expertise or experience - avoiding all these pitfalls with a staff build-up plan will ensure a successfully staffed project. Reviewing proposals for a complex project, such as major software development or support, is a challenging activity. Since labor is the major cost and feasibility determinant for such projects, requiring the submission of a "staff build-up plan" and verifying its realism is crucial in determining whether a proposed project can realistically succeed. In this article for Contract Management Magazine, QSM's Gene Shuman identifies the key components of an effective staff build-up plan.

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Effort Project Management

How Can We Fix the Disconnect Between Software Vendors and Their Clients?

QSM is a leading demand and vendor management company. We have many years of experience working with outsource management professionals, evaluating software project vendor bids and monitoring the development progress of those bids for our clients. We are often hired to help them with their vendor management process because their past projects have failed to meet cost, effort, reliability, and duration expectations. 

It starts with the independent estimate and bid evaluation process. Our main clients are CIOs, PMO managers, purchasing managers, software project managers, and business stakeholders. Our clients will usually have a large software development or package configuration project pending. They are initially trying to figure out which vendor to hire. Vendor A will offer them a bid of 20 million dollars with a specified duration commitment and Vendor B will offer them a bid of 30 million dollars with a different duration commitment. How do we know which vendor to choose? Can Vendor A really finish with a lower cost and shorter schedule? Is the system going to work when it’s done?

The way it usually works is the client will make a decision based on their experience or gut feel. Or if they have already worked with a specific vendor in the past they will go with that vendor again based on some personal relationships that have evolved. Then the problems start. The work that was promised doesn’t get done within the promised time or the promised budget. The vendor then comes back and says they will add people to the project and everything will be ok. The client approves the revised project plan since they don’t have a way to confirm the accuracy of the revised proposal. Then even bigger problems start. More money is wasted, the schedule slips even more, and relationships sour.