Practical Software Estimation Measurement

Relax the Project Schedule

I have been enjoying Alan Cohen's A Deep Breath of Life. I read it every morning with pen in hand, never failing to find at least one or two profound sentences to be my watch-words for the day. One of the July writings contains this quote: "Only infinite patience begets immediate results."  David writes about the perils of rushing through life, and how a lack of patience can causes us to create unnecessary chaos in our daily rounds. He writes, "Rushing never improves the quality of our life or the results we seek; to the contrary, it muddles our vision and causes us to make errors that cost us twice as much time and energy to repair."

One of my first thoughts was about my work at QSM, and how SLIM-Estimate demonstrates the power of patience in software development. Is it possible to exercise patience when there are important business objectives and profit margins to achieve? The Putnam software production equation, backed by 30 years of industry data, shows that relaxing the project schedule gives the best “bang for your buck” to produce value for your customers.

  • In the Putnam Equation, derived from empirical relationships between size, schedule, effort, and productivity, calendar time carries far more “weight” than effort in determining the features that can be delivered: Product (Size) = Effort1/3 * Time4/3 * Productivity 
  • Adding more people (effort) to a project that is behind schedule adds more chaos to the team of people already rushing to meet the deadline. Yes, I acknowledge that sometimes adding more resources is a viable option, but it comes at a high price.
  • Adding staff means more people to whom the vision must be communicated. It will have this many more interpretations, increasing the potential to get “muddled.”
  • More people produce more defects – that is a fact. Finding and fixing these defects will eat up the time and energy you hoped to gain by adding more resources.

Time constraints are real and very necessary. When you cannot negotiate for more time, then reducing size is the next best option. Our QSM team has worked with many clients using the Agile development approach. Our data shows that these projects produce high quality products because teams are small and release planning prioritizes the product backlog (size) that can be produced within the time constraint.

Patience does pay ‒ within reason! SLIM-Estimate models what we call the “impractical zone,” recognizing that you can only take so long to deliver your product. Timely delivery is part of customer value. Let QSM show you how SLIM models time and effort tradeoffs, so you can select a reasonable project schedule that minimizes project chaos and errors.

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