• Predictive Analytics for Improved Cost Management  



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Original Post Date: Monday, April 2, 2012 In my previous blog, I introduced the relationship between three “breakdown structures” commonly used in project management, and how cost estimates are linked to them and aid in their usefulness.  In this blog, I’ll dig further into these relationships, and explain their impact on my Total Ownership Cost (TOC) solution in TruePlanning.   Let’s use an example of an aircraft being built for the Army.  In this hypothetical example, the prime contractor is Boeing, and they have different departments working on various parts of the aircraft.  Department 10 is responsible for the wings and ...
Original Post Date: Thursday, March 29, 2012 Introduction The new TruePlanning COM Application Programming Interface (API) found in the 2012SR1 release of TruePlanning provides a powerful mechanism for leveraging the power of TruePlanning within custom solutions. Through the COM API TruePlanning projects can be created, updated, calculated and saved allowing for near limitless potential for integration with TruePlanning.  That said it is an “API” which means some programming will need to be done. This discussion is focused on how to get started using the TruePlanning COM API. Development Environments The TruePlanning COM API is written in C++, but is available to any programming ...
Original Post Date: Monday, March 26, 2012 In my research on project management and cost estimation, I often come across three different “breakdown structures” which are useful in dissecting a project from various points of view.  The work breakdown structure (WBS) is oriented around project deliverables; it breaks a system down into subsystems, components, tasks and work packages.  The organization breakdown structure (OBS) shows the structure of the organizations involved in the project, including how these organizations break down into sites, divisions, teams, etc.  Finally, the cost breakdown structure (CBS) examines a project in terms of useful cost categories, ...
Original Post Date: Friday, March 23, 2012 Recently I have been playing around with the International Software Benchmark Standards (ISBSG) database for Development and Enhancement projects.  And in the interest of full disclosure I admit that I am more than a little excited to have close to 6000 data points at my fingertips.  I will further admit that there’s something quite daunting about having this much data; where to start, what should I be looking for, how can I best use this data to offer some useful guidance to inform software cost estimation.  For those of you not familiar ...
Original Post Date: Thursday, December 15, 2011 This week CAST released their second annual CRASH (CAST Report on Application Software Health) Report.   The summary findings can be found here . You will also find a link to the Executive Summary.   The report highlights trends based on a static analysis of the code from 745 applications from 160 organizations.  The analysis is based on five structural Quality characteristics: security, performance, robustness, transferability and changeability.  Some of the more interesting findings include: * COBOL applications have higher security scores that other languages studied (meaning they have better security)  I personally found this finding ...
Original Post Date: Monday, December 12, 2011 Check out this paper “The Economics of Community Open Source Software Projects: An Empirical Analysis of Maintenance Effort.”  In it the authors hypothesize that Open Source practices increase the quality of the software that gets produced and subsequently lead to code that is less costly to maintain.  Low quality code must be refactored more frequently than high quality code and there is substantial evidence that maintenance interventions tend to lead to even more degradation of the quality of the code.  So not only are low quality applications more expensive to maintain, the unit ...
Original Post Date: Monday, November 28, 2011  Check out this blog post  on project estimation.  The author discusses the practice of ‘padding’ effort estimates and how destructive this practice can be to healthy project management.  She suggests that project team members, rather than padding their individual efforts at a task level, should collaborate with project management in order to produce a good solid project plan with sufficient contingency reserves.  This allows for the project plan to reflect the most likely case but contains a safety net for those cases where the stuff that was unknown at the time of project ...
Original Post Date: Tuesday, November 8, 2011  Last week I attended the 26th annual COCOMO forum.  This meeting is an interesting combination of conference and working group and for me it’s a great place to take the pulse of the software and systems estimating community.  Lots of times you’ll go to a conference like this and feel as though the same old things are repeated year after year.  Not so with this conference – it is always a great mix of seasoned practitioners and graduate students with both groups providing forward looking information and inspiration on a variety of ...
Original Post Date: Thursday, October 20, 2011  Check out this article.   “Why IT Projects May be Riskier than you Think”.  If you read through the comments you will see that this article truly resonates with many in the field.  In the article the authors discuss research of over 1471 IT projects (large projects with an average cost of $167 million) comparing budgets and expected performance with actual costs and results.  Their results were surprising in that the average overrun was only 27%.  Turns out that the average isn’t what requires study but rather the outliers.  The study found that ...
Original Post Date: Monday, October 3, 2011 Here’s an interesting article “Technical Debt as Metaphor for Future Cost” ().  In this the author discusses the acceptability of using the metaphor of technical debt to facilitate communications between business leaders and the software team when negotiating around the triangle  (time, money, scope).   And while the  author accepts the use of this metaphor good “short-hand” for communicating the fact that avoiding the work now is not sparing the cost but just rearranging the way the costs are incurred – and often increasing the overall costs that need to be spent.  The ...