Practical Software Estimation Measurement

How Can We Leverage Summary Level Analytics to Support Enterprise Planning?

What if you could leverage summary level cost, duration, and productivity data to support estimates for future projects, at the release and enterprise level? C-level executives, development managers, and project stakeholders are all involved at some level in project planning. They want quick access to information on a regular basis and they want web-based solutions to make it happen. So how does it all work? There are web-based analytics tools that allow you to create a centralized database for all of your projects. These tools store the data, leverage it to generate project and portfolio estimates, and then provide a communication vehicle throughout the organization to ensure that everyone involved is on the same page. It all starts with having the data in one place. 

Software Project Database

Once you have all of your project data in one place, then you can focus on analyzing the completed projects. You can compare them against industry trends and leverage a 5-star report to show how they rate on performance in the industry. The initial measures to focus on would be size, duration, effort, reliability, and productivity. A project's productivity will be calculated automatically once you have entered the size, duration and effort. We call this measure a Productivity Index. This measure can be compared to industry and used as a benchmark to measure process improvements over time.  These numbers give you a quantitative picture of your current project environment.  

Software Project Closeout

5 Star Report

These numbers also give you a view of the demographics, timelines, and how your resources are being used across your portfolio of projects.

Portfolio Dashboard

Once you have viewed the historical data, then you can start using this information to generate your estimates. If you don’t have your own historical data or if you know little about the project at hand, feasibility estimates can be very useful. To generate these early estimates, you can simply input a ballpark size, total staff number, and a duration goal. The SLIM empirically-based model will then leverage industry data to generate scope level estimates, taking into account the uncertainty that often comes with early planning. 

Software Project Feasibility

Once you generate the early estimates, you can then build on those by generating more detailed estimates. You can sanity-check both types with industry trends to make sure you are on the right track.

Software Project Scatterplot

Then, when you have your estimates in place, you can roll them up at the portfolio level to see your overall projected costs for the enterprise while at the same time re-planning projects that have unrealistic goals.


In summary, analytics give you the ability to tell the story about your organization. They also give you the power to plan more effectively. With the right tools, you can access this information, communicate it throughout the organization, and at the same time mitigate the risk that is often associated with enterprise planning.