IT budgeting is anything but simple, so why do so many organizations do it in an overly simplistic way? Instead of relying upon detailed task-based spreadsheets and wild guesses, IT budgeting should be leveraging historical data and predictive modeling. This webinar will discuss the business process and application of estimation to the challenges of building the annual IT budget. Presented by QSM's Larry Putnam Jr. on October 11 at 11:00 AM EST, this upcoming ITMPI webinar will focus on how this process can support the following aspects of portfolio management: Pipeline - Demand Management, Risk Management, Resource Management, or Financial Management. Larry will demonstrate how a macro-level estimation process can leverage the very basic information typically available early in the development cycle to generate release level budgeting information. He will then show how to aggregate the releases to provide portfolio level assessment and adjustments that will conform to business level constraints. This webinar will be useful for anyone involved in or responsible for building the annual IT budget.
Enterprise IT teams have been searching for years for the Holy Grail of software development: the greatest possible efficiency, at the least possible cost, without sacrificing quality.
This endless search has taken many forms over the years. Twenty years ago, development teams turned to waterfall methodologies as a saving grace. Soon after, waterfall begat object-oriented incremental or spiral, Rational Unified Development (RUP) practices.
Today, it’s agile development’s turn in the spotlight. C-suite executives are investing huge sums of money to develop their organizations’ agile methodologies. They’re also committing significant resources to train employees to work within agile frameworks.
Yet many projects are still failing, clients remain unsatisfied, and IT departments are often unable to meet scheduling deadlines. Why?
It’s the staff, not the method.
Whenever a project falls behind schedule, the natural inclination is to add more staff. There’s a belief that doing so will accelerate development and, ultimately, help the team hit their deadlines.
The most effective project portfolio planning brings IT managers and business leaders together to prioritize, scope and staff initiatives as a single team with common goals. In doing so, the process fosters better working relationships — and provides a roadmap for delivering value to the organization. In this article for Projects at Work, Larry Putnam, Jr. outlines best practices on how to determine the maximum capabilities that can be delivered within the confines of budgets, resources, and time.
New approaches to software development can sometimes seem at odds with the needs of business customers. For instance, ardent practitioners of the agile development methodology continue to advocate for rapid response approaches and the need for constant iteration to solve complex problems. On the other hand, companies and customers are demanding a strategic approach that provides insight into process, timing, and costs.
So, which of these yin and yang scenarios should developers employ? The answer is “both.”
Enter scope-based software estimation, which I maintain can be a powerful tool to ensure that projects remain on course and on budget. It is possible for schedule and budget estimation to be achieved without sacrificing any of the things that make agile development so potent.
Not everyone feels the same. Some would argue that there’s simply no place for estimates in an agile development world; that estimates cannot coexist with agile or “lean” methodologies like Scrum, which encourage teamwork, speed, and communication without constraints.
As we move closer to the end of the year, many of us are in planning mode. We’re working hard to determine which development projects are going to get done next year, and which ones may have to wait their turn until 2018.
No one should go it alone, though. Business executives need input from IT managers to truly gauge the feasibility of developing the projects that are on their list. Likewise, IT managers need insight into the expectations of business executives so they can produce the products they need.
That’s what makes project portfolio planning so essential. It brings business stakeholders and IT managers together by allowing them to communicate with each other about needs and expectations, and to find common ground that leads to realistic project estimates that help shape the course of successful development for the next 12 months.
It also helps establish a clear product roadmap. It’s not uncommon for organizations to start out with a long list of “to-do’s” every year, but doing everything is simply unrealistic. Therefore, it’s important to identify and prioritize projects that will bring your company the best ROI and help it meet overall strategic goals over the course of the next year.
One of the things I hear from many c-level managers is how difficult it is and how long it takes to generate reliable resource plans at the enterprise level. Many organizations take months to generate their annual budgets and often times the negotiated budgets end up being unrealistic. To fix this problem we need to combine good capacity planning with good demand management. There are a number of project portfolio management tools to help with the capacity planning. The problem is the numbers will be off if we don’t get the demand management part right.
There are world class demand management tools available that can be used by business decision makers. These tools allow us to come up with empirically based, reliable project and enterprise level resource plans. In the SLIM-Estimate view below you can see the forecasted effort by role by month.
The view below shows the plan being sanity checked with industry data so we can better negotiate our budgets with confidence.
The even bigger news is that we can automatically feed our empirically based demand numbers into our PPM tools, making the job of capacity planning much easier and more reliable. In the view below you can see two separate plans, represented in side by side columns. The original PPM plan was updated automatically from an empirically based and sanity checked plan from SLIM-Estimate.
Major corporations spend millions of dollars each year writing proposals to win software and systems business. They typically have a team of people that spend hours or days in strategy meetings to write what they hope will be a winning bid. Usually these companies are responding to a “Request for Proposal” which is sent out to a number of competitors. It’s almost like a sporting event. Let the games begin! Our team versus theirs. Sometimes jobs are on the line. No one wants to have to lay off people because there is not enough business coming in the door.
As part of this process, a project plan will be created. Oftentimes the team will work out a plan based on some previous experience and the opinions of a number of subject matter experts. Usually the plan will include a detailed spreadsheet with a larger number of tasks and the hours that it will take to complete each task.
The fact is most people don’t have a way to validate whether or not the plan is reliable. They also can’t see what chance they have of achieving their overall promised schedule, quality, and budget goals. They don’t have an easy way to negotiate these proposal decisions internally or with the client.
What's missing? A top-down, empirically-based estimate. Running a top-down estimate allows the proposal team to generate a “big picture” estimate for cost, duration, risk, and quality based on historical data and time tested mathematical models. With SLIM-Estimate (shown below), the team can run an overall project level estimate, and sanity-check their proposal with industry trends to make sure that their numbers are competitive and realistic.
If you were unable to attend our recent webinar presented by QSM's Andy Berner, a replay is now available.
As companies try to innovate and at the same time keep software development costs in line, balancing the projects you plan with the resources you need becomes a major challenge. Portfolio and resource management systems, such as CA PPM (formerly known as CA Clarity), have many of the ingredients you need to meet that challenge, but a key ingredient is missing: credible resource demand for the projects you plan to do.
Andy Berner shows how QSM SLIM-Estimate’s Top-Down Resource Demand capabilities provide that missing ingredient. He explains how SLIM-Estimate predicts resource needs for your projects and why it provides the best demand estimates for resource planning. He demonstrates how SLIM-Estimate provides demand information in a way that matches your resource planning process, and how integration with SLIM-Estimate enables the successful use of the resource management capabilities of your portfolio management system.
QSM is a leading demand and vendor management company. We have many years of experience working with outsource management professionals, evaluating software project vendor bids and monitoring the development progress of those bids for our clients. We are often hired to help them with their vendor management process because their past projects have failed to meet cost, effort, reliability, and duration expectations.
It starts with the independent estimate and bid evaluation process. Our main clients are CIOs, PMO managers, purchasing managers, software project managers, and business stakeholders. Our clients will usually have a large software development or package configuration project pending. They are initially trying to figure out which vendor to hire. Vendor A will offer them a bid of 20 million dollars with a specified duration commitment and Vendor B will offer them a bid of 30 million dollars with a different duration commitment. How do we know which vendor to choose? Can Vendor A really finish with a lower cost and shorter schedule? Is the system going to work when it’s done?
The way it usually works is the client will make a decision based on their experience or gut feel. Or if they have already worked with a specific vendor in the past they will go with that vendor again based on some personal relationships that have evolved. Then the problems start. The work that was promised doesn’t get done within the promised time or the promised budget. The vendor then comes back and says they will add people to the project and everything will be ok. The client approves the revised project plan since they don’t have a way to confirm the accuracy of the revised proposal. Then even bigger problems start. More money is wasted, the schedule slips even more, and relationships sour.
QSM is pleased to announce the release of a new book, Understanding Software Estimation, Negotiation, and Demand Management: An Executive Primer. Historically, only 20% of software projects are completed successfully and with software becoming critical to nearly every company and industry, having such a high rate of failure is simply unacceptable anymore. It is for this reason that QSM has compiled this collection of articles that will aid anyone from project managers to CIOs in implementing software estimation, negotiation and demand management methods efficiently to reduce costs.
Larry Putnam, Sr., founder of QSM and a pioneer and top problem solver in the software estimation and measurement field, provides the foreword to the book, which is co-authored by his son and granddaughter, Doug Putnam and Taylor Putnam-Majarian. Combined, the authors bring more than 40 years of experience in software measurement to a range of topics, including: