Is it possible to successfully plan and manage software development with minimal data? The Carnegie Mellon Software Engineering Institute (SEI) recommends that four core measures be made on software developments, namely, software size, time, effort, and defects.[1] Thus, the interesting question becomes whether or not software development can be done with these core measures.

The only way to prove the practicality and the benefits is to use the core measures and show the results. The background to the development set out here involves the purchasing department of a telecommunications operator (telco), which insists that all development proposals be quantified using the core measures.[2]

First, the telco checks if the proposal plan is realistic. This plan data allows a quantified baseline contract to be agreed upon. The supplier is then contractually required to provide progress data at least every month. The progress data is used to evaluate and report progress. The goal is to ensure that delivery of the full function is on time and within budget, and that the software is delivered with high reliability.

Naturally, suppliers are motivated to get the telco's business, and hence to supply the data on the plans and progress. The core data allows the telco to quantitatively assess each supplier proposal. These measures complement the SEI's Capability Maturity Model (CMM) Maturity Levels,[3] which are also used to by the telco to assess the qualitative factors in the supplier's development process.

In the development described here, it was the first time the supplier had been requested to provide the plan data using the core measures. In particular, the requirement to estimate the expected size range of software was completely new.

It is worth noting a recent report dealing with software purchasing to understand why purchasers of software development should be motivated to use the core measures.[4] This report is a highly critical evaluation of the software purchasing competence of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The report sets out how the FAA is exposed commercially if it does not get and use core data.

[1]Carleton, A.D., Park, R.E., and Goethert, W.B., "The SEI core measures," The Journal of the Quality Assurance Institute, July 1994.

[2]Kempff, G.W., "Managing Software Acquisition," Managing System Development, July 1998.

[3]h umphrey, W.S., "Three Dimensions of Process Improvement. Part 1: Process Maturity," CROSSTALK The Journal of Defense Software Engineering, February 1998.

[4]GAO Report to the Secretary of Transportation: Air Traffic Control GAO/AIMD-97-20.

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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