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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

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

Webinar Replay: Measuring Software Size - Insights from the Past to Guide the Future

Measuring Software Size Webinar

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

Software size measures are critical to project estimation, governance, and closeout. Methods for measuring size have been around for decades, yet many organizations still struggle to establish consistent, repeatable processes for capturing software size. Common agreement is that project size is the most important predictor of cost and schedule.

In this PDU-approved webinar, Laura Zuber describes ways to measure software size and gather actual data for completed projects to improve future estimates and in-flight project forecasts.

Watch the replay!

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Webinars Sizing Estimation

Upcoming Webinar: Measuring Software Size - Insights from the Past to Guide the Future

Measuring Software Size Webinar

On March 24 at 1:00 PM EDT, QSM will be hosting a PDU-approved webinar, "Measuring Software Size - Insights from the Past to Guide the Future."

Software size measures are critical to project estimation, governance, and closeout. Methods for measuring size have been around for decades, yet many organizations still struggle to establish consistent, repeatable processes for capturing software size. Common agreement is that project size is the most important predictor of cost and schedule.

In this webinar, Laura Zuber will describe ways to measure software size and gather actual data for completed projects to improve future estimates and in-flight project forecasts.

Register now!

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Sizing webinar

Are Your Software Projects Too Small?

We hear a lot about software projects that are too large or attempt to do too much in too short of a time.  They are very visible and negatively impact both budgets and careers in a not positive manner when they fail.  Small projects may fly under the radar.  This is a mistake.  Most IT projects aren’t large undertakings like Healthcare.gov; rather, they are enhancements and customizations to already existing software systems and account for the majority of most enterprises’ software budget.  Planning these projects to be optimally productive is an area in which most companies can realize the greatest returns.

How do you know what is the optimal amount of software to develop in a project?  In a newly published software benchmark study QSM analyzed productivity, cost/effort, and time to market of a large sample (over 600) of business IT projects that have recently completed.  The projects were divided into quartiles based on the amount of software they developed or customized, which were then compared to each other.  Fully ¼ of the projects were smaller than 3,200 implementation units in size or 68 function points for projects that used that size measure.  Projects in this quartile had a median productivity of 200 IU per staff month or 5 function points per staff month.  The median duration of these projects was slightly more than 3 months. The second quartile contained projects from 3,200 IU up to 8,000 (or 69 to 149 function points).  These projects had a median productivity of 377 IU per staff month (or 7.62 function point per staff month) and lasted a little more than 5 months.  This is a productivity improvement of 89%.  The smaller projects were markedly less productive.  So, simply by bundling software work into larger packages there are significant efficiencies to be gained.

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Estimation Sizing Productivity

New Article - The Three Software Project Development Traps (And How to Avoid Them)

Software Executive Magazine

Why do projects fail? There are a multitude of reasons from lack of up-front planning to failing to make necessary adjustments as requirements change to overstaffing when the project is running late. Whatever the reason, there are steps you can take to avoid these common traps. In this article for Software Executive Magazine, Larry Putnam, Jr. explains how focusing on scope-based estimates, agile forecasting, and smaller teams will help your development team deliver products on time and according to budget.

Read the article!

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Project Management Team Size Articles Sizing

New Article: Determining a Gearing Factor for Story Points

Agile Stories Gearing Factor

QSM recently published the sixth article in the QSM Agile Round Table series. The QSM Agile Round Table was formed to discuss the role of estimation in agile environments. QSM customers shared their questions, challenges, and experiences on the relevance and benefits of scope-based estimation in an agile environment. The previous two articles focused on determining size in a consistent enough manner across multiple products, projects, and agile teams in order to have good historical data on which to base an estimate. They looked at several possible units of measure for software size, including story points, function points, and source lines of code (SLOC). SLIM-Estimate and SLIM-Collaborate permit any of those units, as well as others, to be used for software sizing. In order to use a sizing unit other than SLOC in the SLIM tools, you must assign a gearing factor.  For function points, gearing factors are discussed here. In this article, QSM's Andy Berner addresses ways of choosing a gearing factor for story points.

Read the article!

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Articles Agile Sizing

New Article: Sizing Agile Projects Consistently

Agile Sizing

QSM is pleased to share the fourth article in the QSM Agile Round Table series.  The QSM Agile Round Table was formed to discuss the role of estimation in agile environments.  QSM customers shared their questions, challenges, and experiences on the relevance and benefits of scope-based estimation in an agile environment. The previous article in this series, “Big Rock Estimation” written by Aaron Jeutter from Rockwell Automation, addressed the question of how to determine the size of a release absent of a “big upfront requirements phase”, and thus when the requirements are only known at a very high level and subject to refinement and change.  The next three articles written by Andy Berner will focus on determining size in a consistent enough manner across multiple products, projects, and agile teams so that you have good historical data on which to base an estimate. They will also show how to apply these techniques with the SLIM Suite of products.

Read the full article!

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Articles Agile Sizing

Not Just for Software: How Estimation and Sizing Can Help You Plan a Successful IT Infrastructure Project

Estimation and Sizing for Infrastructure

This post was originally published on Linkedin. Join the QSM Linkedin Group and Company Page to stay up-to-date with more content like this.

While creating technology is about solving everyday problems, the act of creating technology is about solving design problems. This applies to any type of technology project, regardless of its purpose or size. Organizations must put as much thought and consideration into the design of their underlying IT infrastructures as they do in the design of their software projects. Both require careful sizing, estimation and planning.

Of course, installing, configuring and testing IT infrastructure is different than developing a piece of software. A typical IT infrastructure project could include:

  • Server room buildout (clean power, fire prevention, disaster recovery, cabling, etc.)
  • Network connectivity (local and wide area network)
  • Installation of computer server hardware (can be physical or virtual)
  • Configuration of system software on the servers (operating system, database, email server, web server, security template, etc.)
  • Configuration of computer desktops, laptops, smart phones. peripherals and other Internet of Things (IoT) devices 

Together, the hardware and software formulate a truly complex system where all of the parts are interconnected.

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Estimation Sizing Infrastructure