QSM Resources

Thirty years of research – in one convenient place.

Articles and Whitepapers

In the interest of supporting the software development industry, the following resources are available free of charge.

10 Steps to Better Metrics

By Carol Dekkers ( August 2015 )

An effective software measurement program is a long-term investment, not a quick fix. This article, originally published in Projects at Work, identifies 10 steps to ensure your organization's metrics deliver a positive return on that investment, from more accurate cost and schedule estimation, to streamlined processes and better insights into current and future commitments.

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An Updated Software Almanac

By Phil Armour ( July 2015 )

Software projects can be so complicated and so different from each other that predicting whether they will succeed or fail can be as difficult as forecasting the weather or picking winning stocks. Will the project entirely fulfill its goals? Will it deliver some value at a higher cost or later than desired? Or will it just crash and burn leaving the exhausted survivors to lick their wounds, bury the dead bodies, and shred the evidence? Courageous efforts are being made to collect and codify the data that is available, to try to spot what trends are occurring in the industry, and to provide some useful guidelines for managing the business of software. Industry expert Phillip G. Armour highlights the importance of the QSM Software Almanac: 2014 Research Edition in his recent article for Communications of the ACM.

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Full-Circle Estimating

By Doug Putnam ( June 2015 )

While creating estimates is a fundamental step toward improving productivity on software development projects, it is not enough. In this article, recently published on Projects at Work, Doug Putnam and Taylor Putnam-Majarian present a full-circle model that organizations can apply to track actual performance against estimates, reforecast when significant changes occur, and then continually refine the process through post-mortem assessment.

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Failing with the Best Intentions

By Doug Putnam ( April 2015 )

Enterprise application capacity planning is a difficult juggling act. On one side of the equation you have business demand, looking for innovative technology to help improve business performance and increase profitability. The IT organization stands on the other side of the equation, responsible for satisfying these demands. The capacity of this team is limited by the organization’s facilities, the number of developers and their specific skills, and the infrastructure and tools they use. This leaves the business and technology executives in the unenviable position of trying to balance the demand for IT development with the current capacity levels. In this article for Software Magazine, Doug Putnam and Taylor Putnam-Majarian demonstrate how top-down parametric estimation can be leveraged by organizations to manage capacity and demand effectively.

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Estimate Before, During, and After the Software Project

By Larry Putnam, Jr. ( October 2014 )

A common misperception is that an estimator’s job is done after a software project’s parameters are set. On the contrary, software estimation should be conducted throughout the project lifecycle to reflect inevitable changes and to improve estimates on other projects. This article, originally published in Projects at Work, identifies three ways to maximize estimating efforts — before, during and after your project is complete.

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A Case Study in Implementing Agile

By Taylor Putnam ( August 2014 )

This case study for Agile Connection by QSM's Taylor Putnam serves as an example of how adopting agile can be extremely beneficial to an organization, as long as situational factors are considered. Adopting a new development method is a strategic, long-term investment rather than a quick fix. As this article shows, making deliberate, fully formed decisions will ultimately lead to better outcomes.

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Counting Function Points for Agile / Iterative Software Development

By Carol Dekkers ( August 2014 )

Function points (FPs) are proven to be effective and efficient units of measure for both agile/iterative and waterfall software deliveries. However, inconsistencies come to light when comparing FPs counted in agile/iterative development with those counted in waterfall or combination development – and those inconsistencies can create confusion for cost, productivity, and schedule evaluations that span multiple software delivery methods. This paper by QSM Consultant Carol Dekkers seeks to marry International Function Point Users Group (IFPUG) definitions with equivalent concepts in agile/iterative processes so as to create a basis for consistent comparison. This paper was originally published on IFPUG's Beyond MetricViews.

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Traits of Successful Software Development Projects

By Larry Putnam, Jr. ( July 2014 )

Successful software projects are no accident. Best-in-class government IT projects share common traits that agencies can use to ensure success. In a recent article for Government Computer News, QSM's Larry Putnam, Jr. leverages data from from the QSM Database to identify best practices for successful government projects.

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Big Agile: Enterprise Savior or Oxymoron?

By Larry Putnam, Jr. ( June 2014 )

We know agile works well for small teams and small projects, but monster enterprise projects often require greater capabilities than a small team can provide. So why not scale up agile teams to maintain the cost and efficiency benefits of the agile process while accessing the necessary manpower to pursue complex global projects? On the surface, it makes sense, but what if agile only works when teams and projects stay relatively small? That's the question most CIOs want answered before investing scarce time, energy, or resources chasing the big agile paradigm. In this article originally published on Agile Connection, QSM's Larry Putnam, Jr. turns to cold hard data from completed projects in the QSM database to determine whether big agile is "enterprise savior or oxymoron."

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Set the Stage for Success

By Donald Beckett ( June 2014 )

Management decisions made before a software project is underway are a significant factor in determining whether it succeeds or fails. In a recent article for Projects at Work, QSM's Don Beckett identifies seven principles, based on comprehensive studies, that leaders must support and uphold to help create an environment in which projects can succeed. Ignoring them practically guarantees failure.

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