Software Mythbusters

Software Mythbusters

Has Software Productivity Declined Over Time?

Peter Hill of ISBGS poses an interesting question:

Has software productivity improved over the last 15 years? What do you think? Perhaps it doesn't matter as long as quality (as in defect rate) as improved?

Two widely used productivity measures are Function Points/Person Month and QSM's PI (or productivity index). To answer Peter's question, I took a quick look at 1000 medium and high confidence business systems completed between 1996 and 2011. Here's what I found:

Productivity over time chart

Whether we look at PI or FP/PM, the story's the same - on average, productivity has actually decreased over time.  What could be causing this? One possible explanation is the correlation between measured productivity and the volume of delivered functionality. As the next chart shows, regardless of the metric used average productivity increases with project size:

Chart of productivity vs. size


Which led me to wonder: what has happened to average project size over time? Again, regardless of whether the delivered functionality was measured in SLOC or Function Points, the story was the same: projects are getting smaller.

Chart of project size over time


Peter's question is a good example of why we often need more than one metric to interpret the data. More on that topic coming up shortly!


Blog Post Categories 
Productivity Software Mythbusters

Software Mythbusters: The Single Version of the Truth

Recently I attended a seminar on a commercial reporting and data sharing product. In the sales material and discussion, the phrase “Single Version of the Truth” was used several times. But what does it mean?

“In computerized business management, svot, or Single Version of the Truth, is a technical concept describing the data warehousing ideal of having either a single centralised database, or at least a distributed synchronised database, which stores all of an organisation's data in a consistent and non‐redundant form.” - Wikipedia

The concept is attractive to decision makers who collect and analyze information from multiple departments or teams. Here's why:

“Since the dawn of MIS (Management Information Systems), the most important objective has been to create a single version of the truth. That is, a single set of reports and definitions for all business terms, to make sure every manager has the same understanding.”

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Sales pitches for svot imply that if distributed data sources were linked into a single master repository, the problem of unambiguous, consistent reporting and analysis would be solved. Yet reports are often based on different data using different definitions, different collection processes, and different reporting criteria.

Blog Post Categories 
Benchmarking Software Mythbusters