Monitoring Software Project Progress by Money Spent Can Be Misleading

Sound financial practices are a core value of any successful enterprise; and should be.  It may come as a surprise that monitoring money spent against planned expenditures is not the best way to evaluate the progress of software projects.  The reason is simple:  by the time financial measures indicate that a project is off track, it is often too late to take effective corrective actions or identify alternative courses of action.

Here is an example that illustrates this.  Let’s take a hypothetical project plan with these characteristics:

  • Planned project duration of 1 year
  • Full time staff of 6 for the length of the project
  • Billing rate of $100/hour
  • 335 business requirements to complete
  • Project begins at the start of June and is scheduled to complete May 31 of the following year

According to this plan, the project should have a labor cost $1.245 million.  Now, using a software project monitoring tool, SLIM-Control, let’s see what the project looks like at the end of September. 

Software Project Cost

If we only look at money spent, the project is on track since planned and actual expenditures are exactly the same.  However, when we look at the progress of the actual work completed, a different story emerges.  The project got off to a slow start and the gap between what was planned and what has been delivered has increased every month.  Unless this is rectified, the project will last longer and cost more than originally planned.  Here is a forecast of what will happen if the current trend continues.  The project will complete over two months late and cost an additional $215,000.

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Effort SLIM-Control Tracking

10 Tips for Better Software Project Tracking & Oversight

Software Project Tracking


During QSM’s 40 years in business we have often been asked to help with software projects that are out of control and riddled with unrealistic goals and soaring costs. Project managers often ask, "where is the light at the end of the tunnel?" In honor of Larry Putnam, Sr., who started QSM back in 1978, here are 10 tips for better project tracking and oversight.

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SLIM-Control SLIM-Collaborate Tracking

New Workshop: Estimating and Tracking Agile Projects

QSM is pleased to introduce our Estimating and Tracking Agile Projects workshop, the latest in our popular workshop series.  We introduced a number of workshop offerings last year in response to a growing demand for basic educational courses on software estimation and project management from our clients and prospects. 

The purpose of our Estimation and Tracking Agile Projects workshop is to give students a clear understanding of how to estimate and track agile projects at the project release and portfolio level which, in turn, helps establish more reasonable expectations for developer sprint/iteration level planning. Participants will learn how to "embrace change" in the estimation and tracking process while also effectively managing stakeholder expectations based on scope. The workshop content includes the most effective methods for sizing agile projects and uses SLIM as an example to show how a scope based parametric tool can be used to estimate and track effort/cost, duration and quality in an agile environment.

After completing the workshop, attendees will have the ability to estimate and track agile projects at various stages in the software development life cycle. They will also be able to explain, from a software estimation perspective, what makes software projects using agile methods truly unique vs. differences in terminology.

QSM offers a number of additional agile resources for our clients and prospects, including articles, blog posts, and our upcoming Agile Estimation: Beyond the Myths, Part 2 webinar.

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Agile Tracking Training