QSM Resources

Forty 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.

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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Project Clairvoyance

By Larry Putnam, Jr. ( January 2014 )

Can advances in data-driven estimation turn software project failure into a distant memory? Well, if learning from experience is the key to success, imagine what you could do with real-time access to three decades of research, thousands of projects and more than 600 industry trends.

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Constant Velocity Is a Myth

By Andy Berner ( December 2013 )

Is your agile team’s velocity constant from sprint to sprint? No? That’s not a surprise. Many teams assume that their velocity will be constant. In this article, QSM's Andy Berner explains why that’s not the right expectation--and how that affects how you use this metric.

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Ready, Set, Go...and Ready Again: Planning to Groom the Backlog

By Andy Berner ( October 2013 )

For an agile project to progress smoothly, the backlog must be groomed and ready for each sprint. That work must be included in your project plan. This article gives you five points to consider when planning that work.

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All In: Collaborative Software Estimates

By Laura Zuber ( September 2013 )

A transparent, collaborative estimation process that engages stakeholders can minimize project overruns caused by unrealistic schedule and budget expectations. It depends on metrics collection, analysis, risk comparison, and a structure for sharing the right information with the right people at the right time.

In this article, originally published on Projects at Work, Laura Zuber explores the benefits and best practices of collaborative estimates.

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Is It Bigger than a Breadbox? Getting Started with Release Estimation

By Andy Berner ( July 2013 )

It’s becoming clear to organizations adopting Agile methods that one still needs to estimate how long a project or a release of a product will take.  It won’t suffice for businesses to simply take guesses or accept unreasonable constraints.  We must be able to derive credible estimates, based on a history of similar projects.  But how can we estimate a project in advance, while still maintaining the ability to manage the backlog in an Agile manner?

In this article, we’ll answer that question, compare release-level estimation to the techniques used for iteration estimation, and give some pointers on getting started with release estimation in an Agile environment.

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An Analysis of Function Point Trends

By Donald Beckett ( July 2013 )

An Analysis of Function Point Trends by Don Beckett - Function point analysis has played an important role in software measurement and analysis for 30 years. This study looks at the QSM software project database and examines a set of validated projects counted in function points that have completed since the year 2000 to see what they tell about productivity, schedule, and staffing. We are fortunate to have several thousand projects in this sample to work with as this allows us to parse the data many different ways and still have enough projects to be statistically significant. For this study only unadjusted function points were used.

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