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QSM Benchmark Tables

Average Project Performance

The following reference tables are updated versions of the QSM Benchmark Tables, which provide summary performance data (schedule, effort, staff, and Implementation Units/PM) for typical projects from QSM’s Business, Engineering, and Real Time software databases. They are based on recently completed software projects. This information provides a high level, quick reference for benchmarking both completed projects and software estimates.

About Benchmarks

Performance benchmark tables are a useful high-level tool for sanity checking a project estimate or evaluating the performance of a software project. They are the first step in those processes. Their strength is that they provide average performance numbers taken from across the software industry for productivity, level of effort, schedule, and staffing to compare against and perform sanity checks. Their weakness is that they know nothing about the nuances of any individual project or estimate, which must be taken into account for meaningful analysis. They are a useful tool and a good first step in analysis, but not definitive.

 

A Word About the Updates

This updated version of the Performance Benchmark Tables includes some changes that are noted here:

  • The measurements are based on the duration and effort from the beginning of Analysis through development. This corresponds to SLIM® phases 2 and 3. The productivity calculations in the prior benchmark were based solely on phase 3.
  • The projects have been divided into quartiles based on project size. Each measure is based on the median for its quartile.
  • A “50% range” spanning the 25th to 75th percentile values within each size quartile is now provided for all benchmarks.
  • The Effort benchmarks are now in person hours (previous effort benchmarks used person months).
  • Size is measured in implementation units (IU). An IU is equivalent to a logical line of code or a step in defining a configuration.

All data supplied in these tables comes from QSM’s historical database of over 13,000 completed projects. The QSM database is a cornerstone asset utilized in all of our consulting service engagements. It represents the largest and most complete set of validated and completed software project data in the world.

In addition to benchmark data provided free of charge to the general public, QSM also offers custom consulting and benchmarking services to address specialized research and analysis needs.

Business Systems Implementation Unit (New and Modified IU)) Benchmarks

Business Project Medians Based on Project Size Quartiles (IU)
 Quartile 1Quartile 2MedianQuartile 3Quartile 4
Duration (Mths)3.25.055.205.508.10
50% Range2.33 - 4.803.00 - 7.40 3.90 - 8.655.70 - 12.95
Effort Hours9652,0963,3135,16313,523
50% Range422 - 1,9541,230 - 3,418 2,574 - 8,2217,353 - 33,050
Avg Staff1.572.663.954.6910.53
50% Range.71 - 3.011.39 - 5.65 2.53 - 9.045.95 - 16.89
IU/PM200377390477618
50% Range89 - 466216 - 577 231 - 791317 - 955
Median Size1,8895,7748,57815,83157,460
Size Range131 - 3,1153,116 - 7,975131 - 580,2347,976 - 23,18323,184 - 580,234

The Business Systems group includes 550 Business (IT) Systems projects.

Business Systems: Function Point Benchmarks (New and Modified FP)

Business Project Medians Based on Project Size Quartiles (FP)
 Quartile 1Quartile 2MedianQuartile 3Quartile 4
Duration (Mths)3.305.205.005.006.10
50% Range2.20 - 5.202.80 - 8.00 3.20 - 6.554.60 - 9.53
Effort Hours9602,0083,2114,7988,548
50% Range432 - 2,3491,256 - 3,953 2,664 - 8,2215,551 - 16,235
Avg Staff1.493.174.385.329.17
50% Range.76 - 3.211.28 - 6.70 3.77 - 9.045.62 - 9.53
IU/PM5.007.627.476.7611.55
50% Range2.54 - 8.904.18 - 13.36 4.03 - 13.396.55 - 21.05
Median Size3098149219686
Size Range3 - 6869 -149 150 - 341342 - 4,718

The Business Systems: Function Point group includes approximately 330 Business (IT) Systems projects.

Engineering Systems (New and Modified IU)

Project Size Medians (IUs) Engineering Projects (SLIM Phases 2 & 3)
 Quartile 1Quartile 2MedianQuartile 3Quartile 4
Duration (Mths)6.639.7512.9417.3322.34
50% Range3.81 - 12.055.86 - 15.44 9.83 - 25.0314.56 - 32.54
Effort Hours3,19812,97117,35524,01388,526
50% Range1,146 - 6,8546,877 - 22,056 15,434 - 53,78027,921 - 185,882
Avg Staff2.566.638.188.0217.52
50% Range.91 - 6.533.77 - 14.33 3.42 - 16.0011.17 - 45.18
IU/PM299275378476511
50% Range139 - 687176 - 604 227 - 862208 - 886
Median Size6,77425,95449,01581,147231,179
Size Range120 - 13,34513,346 - 49,015 49,016 - 129,872129,873 - 1,551,000

The Engineering Systems group includes over 177 Command & Control, System Software, Telecommunications, Scientific, and Process Control projects.

Real Time Systems (New and Modified IU)

Project Size Medians (IUs) Real Time Projects (SLIM Phases 2 & 3)
 Quartile 1Quartile 2MedianQuartile 3Quartile 4
Duration (Mths)8.1217.0721.7929.5243.00
50% Range5.93 - 12.2815.23 - 26.53 17.54 - 34.7830.71 - 56.70
Effort Hours5,06518,22441,979110,899490,404
50% Range988 - 12,91310,299 - 36,250 53,336 - 180,240390,818 - 1,418,470
Avg Staff1.925.4813.5923.8886.20
50% Range1.15 - 5.004.13 - 7.12 17.27 - 28.8369.01 - 129.20
IU/PM154301166148164
50% Range66 - 299148 - 417 122 - 22295 - 246
Median Size5,93335,97949,934120,205481,157
Size Range4 - 15,47215,473 - 51,260 51,261 - 299,342299,343 - 2,141,000

The Real Time Systems group includes approximately 152 Avionics, Real Time, and Microcode projects.

Measures:

  • Schedule: elapsed time (in months) from Requirements Determination (Phase 2) through the Initial Release (end of Phase 3)
    • Schedule = (P2 Duration + P3 Duration) – P2 Overlap
  • Effort: Person Hours expended during Phases 2 and 3
    • Effort = P2 PHrs + P3 PHrs
  • Average Staff: Full Time Equivalent employees for Phase 2 and Phase 3
    • Average Staff = (P2 + P3 Effort)/ Schedule Duration)
  • IU/ PM: Implementation Units produced per Person Month of effort during Phases 2 and 3
  • FP/ PM: Function Points produced per Person Month of effort during Phases 2 and 3