QSM Resources

Thirty years of research – in one convenient place.

Articles and Whitepapers

In the interest of supporting the software development industry, the following resources are available free of charge.

Good Planning – Not Development Methodology – Is the Key to Successful Project Delivery

By Doug Putnam ( December 2018 )

Agile is all the rage today and companies are investing lots of capital to work within agile frameworks. Are these new methods the key to reducing project failure? When projects get behind schedule, a common reaction is still to add more people. Doug Putnam recently examined 390 contemporary applications of the same size, a significant portion of which used agile methods and tools, to see what matters more - staffing decisions or methodology. He discovered that while the additional staff reduced the schedule by approximately 30%, the project cost increased by 350%. The additional staff also created 500% more defects that had to be fixed during testing. Over the past 15 years, QSM has performed this same study in five-year increments and has found the same results -- staffing decisions have more of an impact on project success than any development methodology. In this article, Doug Putnam identifies a staffing "sweet spot" and outlines a step-by-step planning process  that uses predictive analysis and early estimation to more accurately account for staffing needs.

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Five Traps that Lead to Project Failure (and How to Avoid Them)

By Larry Putnam, Jr. ( July 2018 )

No one starts a software project thinking that it is doomed to fail, but many projects end up falling far short of expectations. A recent PMI report shows that a significant number of companies are still underperforming expectations - failing to deliver software that functions as intended and drives positive business results. PMI’s report breaks out project development teams into two distinct camps: “overachievers” and “underachievers,” where the former are delivering projects on time and on budget, while the later is not. In this article for Project Manager Today, Larry Putnam, Jr. identifies five traps that the "overachieving" organizations are successfully avoiding, and better strategies that can be used in their place.

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The Three Software Project Development Traps (And How to Avoid Them)

By Larry Putnam, Jr. ( June 2018 )

Why do projects fail? There are a multitude of reasons from lack of up-front planning to failing to make necessary adjustments as requirements change to overstaffing when the project is running late. Whatever the reason, there are steps you can take to avoid these common traps. In this article for Software Executive Magazine, Larry Putnam, Jr. explains how focusing on scope-based estimates, agile forecasting, and smaller teams will help your development team deliver products on time and according to budget.

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Top-Down Estimation Can Drive Efficient And Boundaryless Software Development

By Larry Putnam, Jr. ( January 2018 )

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.

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Using Parametric Estimation for Large-Scale IT Infrastructure Projects

By Larry Putnam, Jr. ( December 2017 )

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.

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Measuring Effort and Productivity of Agile Projects

By Andy Berner ( August 2017 )

This is the sixth article in the QSM Agile Round Table series. The QSM Agile Round Table was formed to discuss the role of estimation in agile environments. QSM customers shared their questions, challenges, and experiences on the relevance and benefits of scope-based estimation in an agile environment. Participants had several questions about measuring effort and productivity, and whether there are special issues around how to define and collect these metrics in an agile environment. In this article, Andy Berner identifies best practices for measuring effort and productivity in agile and discusses how the two are related.

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Determining a Gearing Factor for Story Points

By Andy Berner ( August 2017 )

This is the sixth article in the QSM Agile Round Table series. The QSM Agile Round Table was formed to discuss the role of estimation in agile environments. QSM customers shared their questions, challenges, and experiences on the relevance and benefits of scope-based estimation in an agile environment. The previous two articles focused on determining size in a consistent enough manner across multiple products, projects, and agile teams in order to have good historical data on which to base an estimate. They looked at several possible units of measure for software size, including story points, function points, and source lines of code (SLOC). SLIM-Estimate and SLIM-Collaborate permit any of those units, as well as others, to be used for software sizing. In order to use a sizing unit other than SLOC in the SLIM tools, you must assign a gearing factor.  For function points, gearing factors are discussed here. In this article, QSM's Andy Berner addresses ways of choosing a gearing factor for story points.

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Alternative Sizing Units for Agile Estimation

By Andy Berner ( July 2017 )

This is the fifth article in the QSM Agile Round Table series.  The QSM Agile Round Table was formed to discuss the role of estimation in agile environments.  QSM customers shared their questions, challenges, and experiences on the relevance and benefits of scope-based estimation in an agile environment. This article continues the focus from the previous article on determining size in a consistent enough manner across multiple products, projects, and agile teams so that you have good historical data on which to base an estimate. QSM's Andy Berner looks at other sizing units besides story points, in particular function points and source lines of code. 

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Sizing Agile Projects Consistently

By Andy Berner ( July 2017 )

This is the fourth article in the QSM Agile Round Table series.  The QSM Agile Round Table was formed to discuss the role of estimation in agile environments.  QSM customers shared their questions, challenges, and experiences on the relevance and benefits of scope-based estimation in an agile environment. The previous article in this series, “Big Rock Estimation” written by Aaron Jeutter from Rockwell Automation, addressed the question of how to determine the size of a release absent of a “big upfront requirements phase”, and thus when the requirements are only known at a very high level and subject to refinement and change.  The next three articles will focus on determining size in a consistent enough manner across multiple products, projects, and agile teams so that you have good historical data on which to base an estimate. They will also show how to apply these techniques with the SLIM Suite of products.

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How to Avoid the 3 Top IT Project Risks

By Doug Putnam ( June 2017 )

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.

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