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Statistical quality control

Graphical user interface (GUI) technology is a good example of tools enabling a new and different process. As GUI technology matured, the conventional user interface process became obsolete. GUI builder tools permitted engineering teams to construct an executable user interface faster and at less cost. The paper descriptions were now unnecessary; in fact, they were an obstacle to the efficiency of the process. Operations analysis and human factors analysis were still important, but these activities could now be done in a realistic target environment using existing primitives and building blocks. Engineering and feedback cycles that used to take months could now be done in days or weeks. The old process was geared toward ensuring that the user interface was completely analyzed and designed, because the project could afford only one construction cycle. The new process was geared toward taking the user interface through a few realistic versions, incorporating user feedback all along the way, and achieving a stable understanding of the requirements and the design issues in balance with one another.

It could be argued that the process advances (such as the need for iteration and experimentation in defining user interfaces) drove the development of the tools, or that the technology advances drove the process change. Reality is probably a mixture of both. The point is that the five basic parameters of the cost estimation equation are not mutually exclusive, nor are they independent of one another. They are interrelated.

Another important factor that has influenced software technology improvements across the board is the ever-increasing advances in hardware performance. The availability of more cycles, more memory, and more bandwidth has eliminated many sources of software implementation complexity. Simpler, brute-force solutions are now possible, and hardware improvements are probably the enabling advance behind most software technology improvements of substance.

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Project Management Made Easy

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