Estimation

Estimation

Upcoming Webinar: Using Metrics to Manage Runaway IT Projects

Using Metrics to Manage Runaway IT Projects

Technology organizations spend thousands of hours a month planning and delivering their software engineering, cloud, and IT transformation projects. Unfortunately many of these projects start off with unrealistic expectations around cost, duration and scope; or they start fine, but then customer requirements change. Being able to generate metrics analysis and adaptive forecasting when projects are in trouble is essential to saving money and time. All of this combined with the need to negotiate and reset expectations can make this process a challenging one. In this webinar, presented on Thursday, January 21 at 1:00 PM ESTKeith Ciocco will show how estimation and control tools can be leveraged early and while projects are in-flight.

Register here!

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SLIM-Control Tracking Estimation Webinars

QSM's Most Popular Resources of 2020 - Estimation, Sizing, Cloud Migration, Agile and More!

Top Software Estimation Resources in 2020

This year has brought many challenges. Many of us have pivoted to working remotely, trying to maintain open communication with our teams while confronting new business problems presented by COVID-19. At QSM, we've made it our goal to provide the resources our clients need during this period of uncertainty, whether it's online support, consulting, or virtual training. We've also worked to continue offering a steady stream of free resources to the online community, such as webinars, white papers, and blog posts. So as we close out 2020, we wanted to take a moment to highlight a few of our most popular. 

We'll start with one of our most widely-attended webinars to date, "Taking Software Estimation and Planning to a Higher Level." Being able to generate estimates early before detailed planning takes place is essential and can have a major impact on annual budgeting, resource allocation and cost and schedule overruns. A useful presentation if you're new to estimation or if you're a seasoned estimator, this PDU-approved webinar summarizes best practices for top-down estimation and how to leverage estimation tools. Make sure and watch until the end to catch the lively Q&A session from our audience!

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Estimation Agile Sizing cloud

ROI with Estimation – Making Business Decisions Based on Metrics

Estimation return on investment - a hotly debated topic in some circles, but still a very active and frequent conversation in C levels all over the world. Something that hasn’t changed in the 20+ years I’ve been involved with estimating software development, regardless of methodology, has been the question asked by senior leadership when embarking on developing new functionality - “How much will it cost and when can we deliver?”  Despite the emergence of new methodologies, this question is understandably the main driver of whether to proceed with a project or not.  The ROI I am focusing on here is the IT budget we are committing to building a project, or portfolio of projects.  Very often, we are faced with that question very early on, when we know little about the project’s full intended capability, but the C level is asking for an estimate and we better respond with a defendable answer.

The ROI is realized in several ways - firstly in the form of estimating the appropriate staffing levels.  We have often assisted clients who initially estimated their projects with too many FTEs.  A relatively simple tweak to the staffing skills combined with empirical data for effort calibration can prove, in many cases, that the FTE count is too high. In the graph below, the yellow diamond represents our current estimate compared to the green dot (adjusted estimate) resting on the blue trendline in the middle representing the industry average for staffing vs. size.  Properly adjusting the FTE levels can save thousands, even hundreds of thousands of dollars depending on the project size, and millions of dollars across a portfolio.

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Estimation

6 Essential Software Sizing Resources

Software Project Sizing

Project managers and estimators have long struggled with the issue of how to measure software size. Really, before you can calculate cost and schedule, you will need some notion of how big the project will be. There are myriad of ways to size a project depending on the methodology you use and where you are in the planning process. Here at QSM, it's one of the common questions we receive, so we've devoted many years of research to the topic. Our website features a wealth of resources on sizing and in this post, we will highlight a few of the most valuable for anyone grappling with this issue or looking for a place to start.

General Sizing

  • QSM's Software Sizing infographic is a great place to start. This easy to understand visual resource helps explain the most popular sizing methods and when to use them, the difference between functional and technical size, sizing challenges and more!
  • Measuring Software Size - Insights from the Past to Guide the Future is another helpful guide if you're struggling with which sizing units to use. This PDU-approved webinar will help you determine what sizing measure will work for you based on your own historical data. This presentation is worth a watch no matter what development methodology you use and can help improve future estimates and in-flight project forecasts.

Function Points

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Sizing Software Sizing Estimation

Value vs. Cost in Software Sizing and Estimation

Stripped down to the bare bones, value in software estimation measures the functionality that a software product provides to its users (both human and non-human) while production cost measures not just value but the work that is required to deliver that functionality. Software estimates need to account for both. Examples of non-functional cost items include configuration, throw-away code, cloud architecture, and quality requirements. Size measures such as IFPUG and NESMA function points quantify value (delivered functionality) and are recognized as functional size measures. Both measures intentionally ignore technical requirements. They can be very useful when used for asset management, measuring scope creep on a project, or assessing software quality (defect density per delivered unit). For estimating they are an important input; but one that needs to be supplemented to reflect the non-functional cost factors: i.e. what needs to be done behind the scene to create that functionality.

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Sizing Estimation SLIM-Estimate

Upcoming Webinar: Increase PMO Collaboration to Improve IT Portfolio Management

PMO Estimation Webinar

IT project portfolios are diverse - technologies, platforms, methods, resources and more! Ensuring that project priorities align with business strategies and resource demand requires project intelligence and better estimation capabilities. Join Keith Ciocco and Laura Zuber for this webinar on Thursday, Oct. 22 at 2:00 PM EDT to learn how to leverage centralized data about scope, capacity, cost, staffing and quality to explore estimate solutions that overcome common PMO challenges of shrinking budgets and scarce resources. See how tailored access and process workflow increase visibility and provide the tools for effective project prioritization, review and governance.

Register here!

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Estimation webinar PMO PPM

Webinar Replay: Navigating Agile Estimation Challenges

Navigating Agile Estimation Challenges

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

Agile methods have brought vast improvements to software development practices, but as with any process, still pose many implementation challenges. Estimating, planning, and tracking Agile projects is particularly difficult because the formality, consistency, and repeatability of Agile practices vary widely across organizations. In this PDU-approved webinar, Laura Zuber shows how macro level metrics gathered for completed projects and used as the basis of estimation and project control promote repeatability and predictability. Learn how SLIM-Suite tool’s customizable modeling parameters, such as Agile increment lines and sizing techniques, let you balance the needs of teams and the business.

Watch the replay!

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Agile Estimation webinar

Upcoming Webinar: Navigating Agile Estimation Challenges

Navigating Agile Estimation Challenges

Agile methods have brought vast improvements to software development practices, but as with any process, still pose many implementation challenges. Estimating, planning, and tracking Agile projects is particularly difficult because the formality, consistency, and repeatability of Agile practices vary widely across organizations. In this PDU-approved webinar presented Thursday August 13 at 1 PM EDT, Laura Zuber will show how macro level metrics gathered for completed projects and used as the basis of estimation and project control promote repeatability and predictability. Learn how SLIM-Suite tool’s customizable modeling parameters, such as Agile increment lines and sizing techniques, let you balance the needs of teams and the business.

Register now!

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webinar Estimation Agile

Software Estimation in the World of COVID-19

The onset of COVID-19 has revealed many dependent synergies in the world and their mutual effects on one another.  For example, the decrease in human consumption of fossil fuels, not as many cars on the road nor planes in the air has reduced carbon emissions resulting in cleaner air, at least for the time being. 

Another synergistic COVID-19 result affects the IT world, including estimation of software delivery.  Many organizations wisely instilled a work from home (WFH) policy to mitigate the potential spread of disease.  This new work format introduced a fascinating human experiment – can we be as productive en masse during a WFH situation as opposed to being in the office?  The lack of physical proximity stresses the importance of fluid and effective communication.  During pre-COVID-19 days, estimating software delivery was orchestrated through meetings in hallways and conference rooms to communicate project assumptions, constraints and lobbying for project expectations.  But post-COVID-19, we are reliant on remote/virtual contact, limiting the nuances of physical meetings.  Thankfully, there are capabilities in place to make this a fluid process within our SLIM-Collaborate solution. 

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Estimation SLIM-Collaborate

Using Big Picture Analytics to Power Software Estimation

Imagine a software development process where “Big Picture” estimates can be generated before detailed planning takes place, where the estimates can be accessed on the web, and where only three or four inputs are needed to generate reliable information. This process would include intelligent models that take into account historical data and there would be a back office team that specializes in software customization available to do the heavy lifting. Finally, there would be business analytics and industry data (plenty of both) to help with project target negotiations and risk trade-off analysis.

Thankfully, there are science-based estimation solutions available that include the capabilities mentioned above. These packages can make estimation easier, more transparent, and help manage the uncertainty that can come with early planning. There are technology organizations that are using these types of tools to improve their time to market and the accuracy of their software development estimates.

But there are many organizations that still struggle with estimation. They spend millions of dollars each year developing and delivering software. The planning usually starts with senior management asking tough questions about cost and schedule targets. The project leads then try to come up with effort estimates for each person on the project based on experience and gut feel. These effort numbers are tallied up in spreadsheets to come up with an overall estimate, the numbers are usually negotiated and then a final estimate is born. The problem with this process is that it takes a long time to carry out and the estimates are usually inaccurate. This is because the methods don’t take into account the non-linear relationships, integration, and overhead that we often see in software development.  When the estimates are off, millions of dollars are spent trying to change course. The rest is history. 

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Estimation SLIM-Collaborate