Today more than ever we have access to large amounts of information. You've probably heard the term "big data," which in essence is having access to large amounts of data and examining the trends in that data. But many executives want to know how they can leverage this information to solve business problems, like lowering IT costs. One way is to use the data to do a better job of estimating IT projects.
Better estimating helps avoid signing up to schedules and budgets that are unrealistic; it helps avoid overstaffing a project or a portfolio of projects; and it helps calculate how much work can be completed within project constraints. In addition, it improves communication internally across the enterprise and externally between the vendor and the client. You can apply estimation to in-house projects and you can use it to generate better proposals or to do a better job of evaluating proposals. It can also help you negotiate more effectively.
To do a better job of estimating, you need to make good decisions regarding which metrics to leverage. You might have thousands of data points, but it's important to streamline the focus to the core release level metrics: cost, duration, effort, reliability, and productivity. Next, you need to find a centralized place to organize and store the data so you can analyze it. There are tools out there that can help you. In the view below, you can see a portfolio of projects stored in a centralized place with the ability to manage the access and security.
Once you have this information in one place, you can start to analyze it. How are you doing compared to industry with cost, duration, quality, and resource allocation? Where can you improve? How much money can you save? In the view below, you can see a dashboard of some of the analytics that affect your IT business.
Once you analyze your history, you can leverage that information to generate estimates for each project release. This will enable you to answer questions like: what should the project cost and how long should it take? Do you need a bigger team size or a smaller one? Does it help to extend the release schedule or shorten it? Can you live without that feature until the next release? Will the software be reliable at delivery?
You can also take it to a higher level. You can estimate the annual and multi-year budgets and you can see which projects in your portfolio put you at risk. Once you see which projects are at risk, then you can re-evaluate your goals and make the needed adjustments at the release and enterprise level.
Big data is powerful because it provides insights into the organization. That insight can be leveraged by streamlining the data and then using it to estimate more effectively. In the end, this type of process can help mitigate risk and reduce costs at the release level and across the IT organization.