Tag Archives: estimating models

Reprise: Software Cost Estimating, If You Don’t Know What, You Can’t Estimate How… and ICEAA TAMPA


I first published the article listed below in 2014 – A WHOLE 5 years ago, and as I prepare to present at next week’s ICEAA (International Cost Estimation and Analysis Association) Professional Development and Training workshop (conference)next week in Tampa, I realize just how important a topic it was (and is today!)

Comments welcome!  Here’s the original blog post reposted for your enjoyment:

—————–

One of the biggest (and not so obvious) reasons that software estimation goes awry is that amateur estimators don’t always realize how important it is to figure out the “object of estimation” – that is, what it is that we want to estimate. 

I’ve addressed this issue on several occasions – through a set of 4 blog posts called “First see the elephant in the room (the what you are estimating…)”

This week, I did a blog post for QSM, Inc. on the same topic.  Let me know what you think.

21 if you dont know the whathttp://www.qsm.com/blog/2014/ask-carol-software-sizing-if-you-dont-know-what-you-cant-estimate-how

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GDPR, Forget Me and Human Connection


Last week, the first of many sweeping data privacy laws went into effect in Europe:  The General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR.  If you’ve ever traveled abroad or given your email address to a company that does business in Europe, you’re likely to be peripherally familiar with the legislation that has far-reaching implications globally and regulates what types of identifying data that companies can keep about you.  Without going in to detail, (a reasonable read on the subject is found at https://tinyurl.com/ycw8ec3z among others,)  people must explicitly renew and opt-in to continue to receive emails from corporations and services. Companies have spent hundreds and thousands of hours pulling together new policies about how they store and keep data about customers/subscribers.

Individuals under GDPR can also ask to “Be Forgotten” – to which corporations must remove ALL DATA EVER STORED ABOUT AN INDIVIDUAL (including previous names, email addresses, and other data.)  GDPR will change how the world at large views and saves personal data, and, that’s a good thing.

This falls on the heels of the latest issues with Facebook and Data Privacy Breaches where Mark Zuckerberg faced the US Congress, and later  revised their privacy practices (which, hopefully will cause other social media sites to also change.)

With the rise of identity theft and other wrongdoing based on negligent (and sometimes fraudulent) handling of personal data, these new requirements are good provisions. Corporations and their officers should be safeguarding the data they collect at our expense or face financial penalties for non-compliance. It’s going to be interesting to watch in the coming months as lawsuits start to amass… just speculating.

Sidenote: On a related topic, the regulations don’t help to allay the fear about what ‘Big Brother’ (government and corporations) do with the video and audio they collect on me (and everyone else) as we go about our everyday lives.

Am I the only one who finds it a little too intrusive when Google asks me “Have you recently been to Starbucks on xxx St ?” and then asks me to rate the experience to help out other visitors? (Note to self: turn off the Location setting on my cell phone.)

is keeping in touch out of vogue – can we reconnect?

Personally, I think it is disconcerting to see how disconnected we truly are today — despite the seemingly increased digital connectivity of social (and other) media.

Over the past 30 years as a consultant and speaker, I’ve met tens of thousands of people whose email addresses are scattered across various pieces of hardware (some long obsolete!)  I have so many fond memories of people I’ve met and places I’ve traveled; the stories and snippets of life we’ve shared (part of what makes conferences and consulting so worthwhile!)

I wonder about the people I’ve met and lost touch with (maybe even you!) and regardless of whether we shared a moment or a month, there was a connection.  I recall warm handshakes at the end of a presentation, smiles and shared conversations over coffee and dinners, solving problems with strangers (with corporate challenges,) and, of course, the goodbyes at the end of a class or a contract.  (Yes, I love my work!)

Every email address in my databases equals at least one human being with whom I’ve crossed paths with, and most likely lost touch. I wonder about your news and your kids and your experiences since we last met (or correspondence or chatted) – and, if you’re interested, I’d love to reconnect.

I’ll go first (to give an update):  I’m still actively presenting new ideas about measurement, agile, and leadership at conferences, still consulting and teaching workshops on function points (the square foot measure of software size) in new environments (especially agile!), as well as developing new courses to enrich corporate health through leadership, project management and metrics.  I’m passionate about cultural diversity (Hofstede and Trompenaars), the Heart of Agile (thank you Allistair Cockburn!), EI (emotional intelligence) and transforming our workplaces/workforces to be inclusive of people, technology, and fresh ideas.

I’m still the same energetic, optimistic, curious female engineer and consultant you met somewhere on some occasion, and as with every consultant, I’m always open to new / renewed client engagements where I can help you to streamline your operations (with great leadership and Project Management initiatives) and add measurement to demonstrate your department’s value! (I hope you’re okay with this shameless plug, I am taking on new clients at this time. Call or email me…)

Forget me….

On the opposite side, the Forget Me concept is interesting… considering the high percentage of flawed and incorrect data stored about all of us.  (Case in point – have you ever done a vanity search of your name in Google and found your name associated with the current address of exes and family members at locations where you’ve never lived?  Or done a public records search where identity results show records of invalid and incorrect data?  Data are gathered from disparate and diverse public and private databases – with little data validation.)  I wonder how corporations will actually be able to guarantee data removal when so much of the stored information is flawed.

Compounding the situation are purposely errant data (mis-entered by applicants who mistype their email address or falsify identifying information to avoid later spam, when registering on a site) – I’m curious how companies will be able to make sure that all data are removed on request. “Forget me” – what an interesting concept in a world that wants to be appropriately connected.

It’s probably time for a full EMAIL dataBASE refresh

I read a perspective piece in this past Sunday’s Tampa Bay Times newspaper “One man is updating his own privacy policy” by Konstantin Kakaes – it was an  interesting article that opened with

“Dear everybody who has sent me an email since  April 23, 2004, the day I got a Gmail account…”

The three column, half page piece addressed every type of email communication (from family to friends to generic spam to subscriptions to group lists,) 13 different groups in all, and outlined how he plans (tongue-in-cheek) to use the various pieces of data he’s retained on his various laptop incarnations and storage devices.  An interesting approach to cleaning out (or at least contacting) everyone in his email database.

P.s., watch this space for news about an exciting Powerful Presentations and Corporate Engagement workshop (I’m developing it now) – set to launch in the autumn of 2018.  Interested in knowing more (we’re targeting Sept in Napa Valley, CA!) – drop me a quick note!

Blogging is the ultimate “broken telephone” so, if you’ve read this far, do me a favor and shoot me a quick email (dekkers@qualityplustech.com) or drop a comment and let me know that you’re out there…  

p.s. Is anyone there?  Did this post resonate with you? Was it too long/just right/boring/fun?  LMK (Let me know…)

To estimate or not to estimate? Not the right question…


Over the past few years I’ve seen an increase in articles and posts about whether or not to do estimation (of cost, schedule and effort) for software development projects. This is especially true when agile/iterative methods are used to develop software for which requirements are not readily known in advance.  There are actual “movements” set up to prove that estimating in and of itself is bad for software development.  At the same time, I’ve worked done more and more work for clients related to software benchmarking (to find best-in-class methods, tools, and combinations to develop software) and estimation (including price-to-win estimating.)  I’m now convinced that “To estimate or not to estimate?” is simply the wrong question – or at least a premature question for many companies.

Estimation is often viewed as fundamental to software development (and any other development projects or programs) as are ingredients to cooking or oxygen to life.  While we might wish to discard or discredit the practice of estimation as an inconvenience and even the reason for software “failures” –(Sidenote:  The Standish group’s annual CHAOS reports cite lack of “on-time” and “on-budget” software delivery as rationale for declaring project failure; both of which would disappear as factors if estimating was eliminated) – the truth is that C-level executives need a level of confidence (based on estimates) to bound their investment in new initiatives, no matter how much faith or confidence the executives have in the development teams’ ability to deliver.  In my humble opinion, project managers MUST  develop skills to do solid, reliable project estimates if they are to survive (and thrive.)  But this is where things often fall apart – estimation is not seen as a discipline based on solid data (in part, because some organizations do estimating haphazardly based on bad data, poor models, flawed assumptions, premature input values taken as fact, among other factors.)

This does not include those organizations where the mere notion of projects (being a temporary endeavor intended to deliver an identified product, outcome, or service such as a piece of software) is like a foreign language.  When I teach courses according to the Project Management Institute’s Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK(R)), it’s not uncommon to find IT pros who profess that project management is not needed because their work is bounded solely by calendar months and the number of full-time-staffers.  The idea that work should be managed towards a specified outcome (with goals, objectives, timelines, milestones, deliverables and a formal end) just doesn’t fit into their paradigm, even for those involved in developing advanced technology solutions.  I’m excluding these companies because projects (and estimating cost and schedule) are actually beyond their comprehension, as is productivity, project comparisons or process improvement.

Given the premise that “to estimate or not to estimate” is the wrong (or at least a premature) question – then what are the right ones?  Here’s a short list:

  • If we do an estimate, do we know what are the correct input variables (and values) we should use?  (i.e., Some idea of scope, non-functional requirements, constraints, goals, project environment, etc.)  Garbage in equals garbage out.
  • When estimating, do we have access to correct and appropriate historical data on which to rely? (i.e., does the historical completed project information accurately depict what actually happened on the project? Often up to 40% of true project work effort is not recorded – or it is recorded inconsistently.)  Incomplete or incorrect historical data make for poor comparisons, and even worse estimates.
  • Are the estimating models we propose, appropriate for the industry and application?  (i.e., in construction, it would be folly to use a home building model for a hospital construction or bridge construction project, so too with software.)  Every model, no matter how advanced, needs to be calibrated for the organization using it.
  • Do we know enough about the object of estimation? (i.e., if it is simply an idea about an outcome without any idea of component programs or projects, a “guess”timate or rough-order-of-magnitude may be the only possibility until more data are known.)
  • Are the estimating exercise/practices paid “lip service” by management? (i.e., does management summarily cut every estimate in half, or dictate due dates that override those of professional estimators?)
  • Does the organization take (software) measurement seriously?  (i.e., how are project measures and metrics collected – if adhoc, inconsistent, without formal processes or procedures to validate the quality of project data, then estimating will likely be equally inconsistent)

These are just a few of the important questions that need to be addressed – before we attempt to estimate and rely on the results of the practice.   When estimating is done without proper planning, discipline and consistency, the results will be unreliable and even worse, downright wrong.

In IT as in life, if you’re going to invest in an endeavor (such as estimating), take the time to do it right the first time, or don’t bother doing it at all.  And that, really answers the question of  “to estimate or not to estimate.”

What other questions are critical to ask?  What do YOU think?

Function Points (Software Size) come of Age: Mature, Stable, and Relevant


It is with pride and honor to share with you news about the upcoming Sept 13-15, 2017 celebratory (and educational) conference: ISMA14 (International Software Measurement and Analysis) – and its happening in just 4 weeks in Cleveland, OH, USA!

It’s the 30th anniversary of the International Function Point Users Group (IFPUG) – a not-for-profit user group I’ve been a part of for over 25 years.

We’re also celebrating 2017 as the International Year of Software Measurement (#IYSM).  It’s a great year for YOU to get involved (or more involved) and gain the benefits of measurement for software and systems projects!

As the Director of Communications and Marketing for IFPUG, I am excited that IFPUG is now mature (age 30!) and at the same time venturing in new directions with non-functional sizing (SNAP.)  We have much to celebrate, AND we also have more work to do (to publicize how Function Points and SNAP points provide objective measures of software size!)

The time is now!

No longer does your organization need to “fumble around in the dark” to find standard, reliable and objective software sizing measures.  Certainly there is an abundance of available units of measure (story points, use case points, source lines of code, hybrid measures, etc.) — BUT, only Function Points are supported by  ISO/IEC world standards and provide consistent, objective and technologically independent assessments of software size based on “user” requirements.  (Soon, the Software Non-functional Assessment Process – SNAP points for non-functional size will also become an international standard.)

Isn’t it time that your company adopts function points as a universal standard for software size?  YOUR timing is perfect because in less than 5 weeks, International Software Measurement and Analysis (#ISMA14) will be in Cleveland and you will have the opportunity to learn from industry experts in an intimate (less than 200 people) setting. (p.s., I’m one of the main conference speakers so you’ll know at least 1 person there!)

FUNCTION POINT proof is “in the pUDDING” (so to speak)…

We have an English proverb “the proof is the pudding”

The modern version of “The proof is in the pudding.” Implies that there is a lot of evidence that I will not go through at this moment and you should take my word for it, or you could go through all of the evidence yourself. Source:  http://tinyurl.com/5uc7eq3 

I can espouse the benefits of function points, as can IFPUG insiders and supporters such as the world-respected author/guru Capers Jones (whose 17 published books use Function Points as a universal software sizing measure). But, when the mainstream media features articles on Function Points – it’s a call to action for senior executives and IT professionals to take note! Here’s a recent example: (click on the image to read the full story!)

Need help selling your boss on the benefits?

I’ve written up the top 10 reasons to attend ISMA14 with us- won’t you join me (and a ton of other measurement professionals) in Cleveland on Sep 13?

Carol Dekkers, CFPS (Fellow), AEC, PMP, P.Eng.
President, Quality Plus Technologies, Inc.
IFPUG Director of Communications and Marketing

 

Estimation Poker – Bluffing (and Winning) with Metrics


In May 2016, I presented a webinar for ITMPI on the topic of Estimation Poker based on the broad topic of software project estimation – regardless of the development approach.  The webinar was well attended despite technical difficulties (I recorded it while in Italy and suffice to say, internet connections from my site happened to be… less than optimum.)  I re-recorded the webinar on my return (with far superior results) and the recording can be accessed at this link:  ITMPI Estimation Poker Webinar Re-Recording:

A teaser 10 minute segment is on YouTube – Dekkers Estimation Poker teaser

I’ve also uploaded the full slide deck to Research Gate – click Research Gate – Dekkers Slides here to download.

Let me know what you think.  Note that this is different than the Agile Estimation Poker (which I forgot about was already established when I designed my webinar.)

Have a great weekend!

Carol

 

QSM (Quantitative Software Management) 2014 Research Almanac Published this week!


Over the years I’ve been privileged to have articles included in compendiums with industry thought leaders whose work I’ve admired.  This week, I had another proud moment as my article was featured in the QSM Software Almanac: 2014 Research Edition along with a veritable who’s who of QSM.

This is the first almanac produced by QSM, Inc. since 2006, and it features 200+ pages of relevant research-based articles garnered from the SLIM(R) database of over 10,000 completed and validated software projects.

Download your FREE copy of the 2014 Almanac by clicking this link or the image below.

almanac

What Software Project Benchmarking & Estimating Can Learn from Dr. Seuss


Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction – or children’s stories at least, and I’m hoping you’ll relate to the latest blog post I published on the QSM blog last week.  I grew up on Dr. Seuss stories – and I think my four siblings and I shared the entire series (probably one of the first loyalty programs – buy the first 10 books, get one free…)

I’d love to hear your comments and whether you agree with the analogy that we seek to create precise software sample sets for benchmarking and in so doing, lose the benefits of the trends we can leverage with larger sample sets.  Read on and let me know!  (Click on the image below or here.)

Happy November!

Carol

dr seuss

Combining Soft Skills and Hard Tools for Better Software


One of the more interesting topics in software development (at least from my perspective) is the culture of the industry.  Seldom does one find an industry burgeoning with linguistics majors, philosophers, artists, engineers (all types – classically trained to self-named), scientists, politicians, and sales people – all working on the same team in the same IT department.

This creates an incredible diversity and richness – and leads to sometimes astounding leaps and bounds in innovation and technological advancement, but it can also create challenges in basic workplace behavior.  This post takes a look at the often overlooked soft skills (empathy, leadership, respect, communication, and other non-technical skills) together with technical competencies as an “opportunity” (aka challenge or obstacle to overcome.)

It was published first on the Project Management Institute (PMI) Knowledge Shelf – recently open to the general non-PMI public.

soft skills

Added bonus here:  I referenced the You Tube 2013 University of Western Australia commencement address by Australian comedian/actor Tim Minchin at the University of Western Australia in 2013 in my post (he shares his 9 recommendations to graduates, my favorite -and the one I quoted – is #7 Define yourself by something you love!)  I believe it’s worth the watch/listen if you need to take a break and just sit back and think about soft skills during your technical day. (Warning to the meek of heart – it’s irreverent, offensive, and IMHO, bang on in his core sentiments.  If you’re offended, I apologize in advance!)

If you’d like a pdf copy of the post above, please leave me a comment with your email address!  (And even if you don’t, I’d love your opinion!)

Have a great week!

Carol

IFPUG (News) Beyond MetricViews – FP for Agile / Iterative S/W Dev


With the support of QSM, Inc., I wrote and published this article on a new area of the International Function Point Users Group (IFPUG) website called “Beyond MetricViews.”

While the IFPUG already had published guidelines in this area, the key points to this article include:

  • If you want to measure productivity (or anything else) consistently across two or more software development projects – where each was developed using a different approach (i.e., waterfall vs. agile) – one must be consistent in the definition and application of the measures (and metrics);
  • Function points are defined in terms of elementary processes and agile methodologies deliver such functions iteratively (not complete in one iteration) – posing challenges to the uninitiated;
  • Regardless of whether you measure productivity, defect density (quality), costs or other aspect of software delivery – it is critical to do an “apples to apples” comparison.

Here’s the article (click on the image) for your interest.  (You can also visit the blog at www.qsm.com for details.)

ifpug

Comments and feedback is appreciated!

No free lunch in Software Estimation and Benchmarking


I’d love to have comments on my latest QSM blog post of the same name… read more

22 no free lunch