Elisabeth Pendergrass's blog

Elisabeth Pendergrass's blog

Webinar Replay: Is Software Estimation Needed When Cost and Schedule Are Fixed?

Fixed Cost and Schedule Estimation Webinar

If you were unable to attend our recent webinar, a replay is now available.

In many agile and even non-agile development environments, the budget, team size, and schedule are fixed based on an organization’s predetermined targets. This leads many project managers to question how they should proceed with target negotiations and some even wonder if they should estimate at all. The problem is, without a reliable estimate, the amount of functionality promised within the time and money constraints could be difficult to achieve. This could cause the product delivery to be short on features, or late and over budget.

Join Keith Ciocco for this webinar as he demonstrates the role of scope-level estimation tools in evaluating if targets are reasonable and in determining how much functionality can be delivered. This crucial analysis helps set customer expectations and provides data-driven leverage for negotiations.

Watch the replay!

Blog Post Categories 
Agile Webinars Estimation

Webinar Replay: Perspective and Predictability in Agile Release Planning

Agile Release Planning Webinar

If you were unable to attend our recent webinar, "Perspective and Predictability in Agile Release Planning," a replay and slides are now available.

Whether you release on-demand or according to a regular schedule, being able to visualize how many sprints it will take provides instant feedback so you can explore a range of schedule, scope, and staffing alternatives. Couple this with the ability to leverage project data - size, cost, schedule, and team performance - and you give your IT planning and decision-making processes a massive upgrade.

Join Laura Zuber for this PDU-approved webinar to learn how SLIM tools employ flexible project models and machine learning to provide information about projects that might not be obvious, enabling you to improve communication among stakeholders across the project lifecycle.

Watch the replay!

Blog Post Categories 
Agile Webinars

New Webinar: Perspective and Predictability in Agile Release Planning

Agile Release Planning Webinar

Whether you release on-demand or according to a regular schedule, being able to visualize how many sprints it will take provides instant feedback so you can explore a range of schedule, scope, and staffing alternatives. Couple this with the ability to leverage project data - size, cost, schedule, and team performance - and you give your IT planning and decision-making processes a massive upgrade.

Join Laura Zuber on ThursdaySept. 12 at 1:00 PM EDT for this PDU-approved webinar to learn how SLIM tools employ flexible project models and machine learning to provide information about projects that might not be obvious, enabling you to improve communication among stakeholders across the project lifecycle.

Watch the replay!

Blog Post Categories 
Agile Webinars

White Paper: Long Term Trends from 40 Years of Completed Software Project Data

Software Project Size over Time

Although the software industry is known for growth and change, one thing has remained constant: the struggle to reduce cost, improve time to market, increase quality and maintainability, and allocate resources most efficiently. So how can we combat future challenges in a world where everything is software, from the systems in your car to the thermostat in your home to the small computer in your pocket? By using practical measurement and metrics, we can get a bird's-eye view of where we've been and where we could go, while keeping us grounded in data. Leveraging QSM's industry database of over 13,000+ completed projects, Katie Costantini takes a high-level look at changes to software schedules, effort/cost, productivity, size, and reliability metrics from 1980 to 2019. The current study compares insights to similar studies QSM has completed at regular intervals over the past four decades and answers questions like, 'what is the "typical" project over time?' and 'why are projects "shrinking?"' The results may surprise you!

Read the full white paper!

4 Key Studies on Team Size

Software Team Size

It seems like ever since the dawn of software development, humans have struggled with the question of team size. What team size is most productive? Most economical? When does adding more people to a project cease to make sense? So it comes as no surprise that one of the most popular articles on our website is a study Doug Putnam did in 1997 on team size, Team Size Can Be the Key to a Successful Project. The article leveraged data from 491 completed projects in the QSM Database to determine what is the optimal team size - "optimal" being most likely to achieve the highest productivity, the shortest schedule, and the cheapest cost with the least amount of variation in the final outcome. The study determined that for medium-sized (35,000 to 95,000 new or modified source lines of code) systems, smaller teams of 3-7 people were optimal. This article continues to be referenced today, especially by the agile community.

The topic of team size reappeared again in Don's Beckett study of Best in Class and Worst in Class projects for the 2006 QSM Software Almanac. To identify top and bottom performers, he ran regression fits for effort and schedule vs. project size through a sample of nearly 600 medium and high confidence IT projects completed between 2001 and 2004. On average, Best in Class projects delivered 5 times faster and used 15 times less effort than Worst in Class projects. What made the Best in Class projects perform so much better? Best in Class projects used smaller teams (over 4 times smaller, on average) than the worst performers.

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Team Size

New Resource: QSM Software Almanac: 2019 Edition

QSM Software Almanac: 2019 Edition

We are pleased to announce the release of the QSM Software Almanac: 2019 Edition, an essential resource for anyone involved in the planning, management, or budgeting of software and systems projects and portfolios. This year's almanac focuses on agile development and the continued relevance and application of estimation and metrics.

The 2019 Almanac presents 18 articles from several perspectives, including both private and public. These articles show that there is indeed a compelling need to apply the basic principles of software estimation to projects, regardless of the methodology used, and that traditional metrics – even sizing metrics – can and should be applied to agile projects. Over the course of this book, the authors examine agile sizing approaches, effort and productivity, estimation best practices, as well as project and portfolio management best practices. All the articles offer research and insights into the foundational skills associated with parametric estimation and adapting those existing skills to account for changing conditions.    

Much of the content in the 2019 QSM Software Almanac is derived from the QSM Metrics Database, drawing data from over 13,000 completed software projects from North and South America, Australia, Europe, Africa, and Asia, representing over 1.2 billion lines of code, 600+ development languages, and 120 million person hours of effort.

We invite you to download the full, complimentary version of the 2019 QSM Almanac below.

Blog Post Categories 
Articles QSM News QSM Database Agile Estimation

Webinar Replay: How to Identify Unrealistic Project Expectations and What to Do about Them

Managing Software Project Risk Webinar

If you were unable to attend our recent webinar, "How to Identify Unrealistic Project Expectations and What to Do about Them," a replay is now available.

Many software projects fail simply because customers (internal and external) have unrealistic expectations about schedules and budgets. The desired outcomes do not align with known capabilities - based on industry data or your history. Decision makers are simply unaware, absent an estimation process based on scope and a way to assess the reasonableness of project goals. Presented by Laura Zuber, this PDU-approved webinar will demonstrate how to identify unrealistic expectations and generate estimates that set you up for success. Laura will show you best practices for developing viable estimates that balance risk and opportunity, enabling executives to commit to plans that meet the most important business goals.

Watch the replay!

Blog Post Categories 
Webinars Risk Management

New Webinar: How to Identify Unrealistic Project Expectations and What to Do about Them

Managing Software Project Risk Webinar

Many software projects fail simply because customers (internal and external) have unrealistic expectations about schedules and budgets. The desired outcomes do not align with known capabilities - based on industry data or your history. Decision makers are simply unaware, absent an estimation process based on scope and a way to assess the reasonableness of project goals. Presented by Laura Zuber on Thursday, May 9 at 1:00 PM EDT, this PDU-approved webinar will demonstrate how to identify unrealistic expectations and generate estimates that set you up for success. Laura will show you best practices for developing viable estimates that balance risk and opportunity, enabling executives to commit to plans that meet the most important business goals.

Register now!

Blog Post Categories 
Webinars Risk Management

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

Agile Team Size

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.

Read the article!

Blog Post Categories 
Articles Team Size Agile

Microsoft Services Global Apps CTO Discusses His Team's Evolution Around Estimation

As the Apps Global CTO for Microsoft Services, Lenny Fenster sees the need for estimation in many shapes and sizes throughout the world. In his twenty years at Microsoft, Lenny has also seen many different attempts to improve how Microsoft Services estimates time and effort for software development projects. Not all of them have hit the mark. In this presentation for the QSM 2018 Virtual Conference, Lenny talks about the evolution his team is driving in Microsoft Services to improve the maturity, consistency, and defensibility of software estimation for some of the largest and most complex software projects in the world. He talks specifically about the intentional separation of scope and estimation and the use of SLIM as a key ingredient in the success they are now having. Estimates are now done much quicker, reducing the time to run an estimate from days to just 4.5 hours.  

Lenny was gracious enough to answer questions throughout his presentation about the estimation process at Microsoft Services. This sparked great participation from our audience, who asked a number of questions worth resharing. Here are the highlights:

Q: Did you experience any resistance among the architects in changing the way they did estimation to a new approach?­

Blog Post Categories 
Estimation Webinars