Function point analysis has played an important role in software measurement and analysis for 30 years, but what will be the role of function points in the future? Will they have staying power? Expanding off of a recent article for IFPUG's Metrics Views, Don Beckett looks at the QSM software project database and examines a set of validated projects counted in function points that have completed since the year 2000 to see what they tell about productivity, schedule, and staffing. We are fortunate to have several thousand projects in this sample to work with as this allows us to parse the data many different ways and still have enough projects to be statistically significant. For this study only unadjusted function points were used.
It’s becoming clear to organizations adopting Agile methods that one still needs to estimate how long a project or a release of a product will take. It won’t suffice for businesses to simply take guesses or accept unreasonable constraints. We must be able to derive credible estimates, based on a history of similar projects. How can we estimate a project in advance while still maintaining the ability to manage the backlog in an agile manner?
In this article, recently published on Projectmanagement.com, QSM's Andy Berner answers that question, compares release-level estimation to the techniques used for iteration estimation, and gives some pointers on getting started with release estimation in an agile environment.
Andy Berner is a software engineer and methodologist. He came to QSM in 2012 after over 25 years in both large and small software organizations, including, among others, EDS (now HP), Rational Software and IBM. Based on his experience in almost every role in software development, Andy has consulted with numerous organizations on using software development methods and tools to improve productivity and quality.
Agile is all the rage these days, but what happens to Agile projects when they're forced to scale to the size of major government enterprise initiatives? In this article, originally published in the May-June 2013 issue of Modern Government, Larry Putnam, Jr. looks at 93 Agile projects completed between 2002-2012 to see how these projects fared as their sizes increased. The study examines Early Adopters (2002-2008) vs. Later Adopters (2009-2012), as well as analyzing Agile vs. Non-Agile projects. The results may surprise you!
Software projects devote enormous amounts of time and money to quality assurance. It's a difficult task, considering most QA work is remedial in nature - it can correct problems that arise long before the requirements are complete or the first line of code has been written, but has little chance of preventing defects from being created in the first place. By the time the first bugs are discovered, many projects are already locked into a fixed scope, staffing, and schedule that do not account for the complex and nonlinear relationships between size, effort, and defects.
At this point, these projects are doomed to fail, but disasters like these can be avoided. When armed with the right information, managers can graphically demonstrate the tradeoffs between time to market, cost, and quality, and negotiate achievable deadlines and budgets that reflect their management goals.
Leveraging historical data from the QSM Database, QSM Research Director Kate Armel equips professionals with a replicable, data-driven framework for future project decision-making in an article recently published in Software Quality Professional.
The February issue of the DACS Journal of Software Technology focuses on Software Cost Estimation and Systems Acquisition. My contribution, which you can read here, addresses the challenges faced by estimators and the value of establishing a historical baseline to support smarter planning, counter unrealistic expectations, and maximize productivity.
Using several recent studies, my paper addresses the following questions:
- What is estimation accuracy, and how important is it really?
- What is the connection between the Financial Crisis of 2008 and software estimation?
- Why do small team projects outperform large team projects?
- How can you find the optimal team size for your project?
January's Communications of the ACM featured an article by QSM consultant Phillip Armour. "The Difference Engine" focuses on building teams of differently skilled people. The article is partly based on University of Michigan Professor of Complex Systems, Scott Page’s book, The Difference, which shows the power of cognitive diversity in building systems and solving problems. Phil will elaborate more on this subject in a upcoming series on the QSM blog, so stay tuned!
Phil is a regular contributor to Communications of the ACM. You can read more of his articles here.