Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions - QSM Database


QSM began building its database of completed software projects in 1978. Since that time, we have collected project data continuously, updating the database every 12 to 18 months. Our primary source of industry data is QSM tool clients, some of whom choose to contribute their completed project data to the database. This is a great way for our clients to ensure that their industries, development methods, and technologies are represented in our industry trends. We also collect data by permission through our ongoing consulting practice in the areas of productivity assessments, estimates, and cost-to-completes. 

Over the past three decades QSM has analyzed software developments from North America, Europe, Asia, Australia, and Africa. Our projects span a wide variety of size regimes, application domains, industries and development methodologies. Before it is added to the database, all incoming project data is carefully examined for accuracy and completeness. After inspection and validation, approximately 13,000 projects have been integrated into the QSM database.

Trust is the foundation of the partnership between QSM and the clients who rely on our tools and services: trust that QSM will guard the confidentiality and identity of the clients who contribute project data; trust in the integrity of our industry data. For over three decades, our goal has been to create longstanding partnerships with our clients. For this reason, we treat all contributed data as confidential.

QSM does not release project data directly to our customers. To protect the confidentiality of our client contributors, we use industry trend lines (calculated from the most recent 2-3 years of data) for comparison and analysis. Due to the enormous variability in schedule, effort, and defects at any given size, the data is broken down into nine application categories:



System Software Telecommunications Process Control

Command & Control


Real-time Embedded Microcode/Firmware 

Stratifying the data by application type reduces the variability at each size range and allows for a more accurate curve fit.

QSM clients can access the QSM database in several ways:

  • Current industry trend lines for each of the nine application types are included with QSM tools.
  • Basic Custom queries on the QSM database are included with your license. Let us do the research to answer your estimating and benchmarking questions. We can provide graphs and summaries that allow you to compare your projects against both industry trend lines and actual projects that are similar in size, application type, and complexity. Note: more extensive query analysis is available through QSM's Basic Measurement Service.
  • QSM's Basic Measurement Service can help you assess your current position against your competitors by cost, cycle time, and quality. Based on your present productivity and quality, we can help you set realistic goals for process improvement.
  • Research papers and articles from our database analysis are available for download on the Resources page. Five Core Metrics, Measures for Excellence and Industrial Strength Software by Lawrence H. Putnam and Ware Myers outline the theory and research behind QSM's three decades of software estimation, tracking, and benchmarking. And don't forget to check out the QSM IT Almanac, Function Point Table, Performance Benchmark Tables, and blog!
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QSM Database