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Orignal Post Date: Thursday, February 11, 2010 That’s a question that members of the cost estimating community will try to answer at next week’s  43rd Annual DoDCAS symposium. The conference is centered around the “theory and implementation” of the WSARA 2009 (Weapons System Acquisition Reform Act). Simply put, the cost estimating community needs to first and foremost understand what the real life implications of the WSARA will be. At least in theory that is.   According to GAO, nearly 70% of the Pentagon’s 96 biggest weapons programs were over budget in 2008 and another government report found $295 billion in waste ...
Orignal Post Date: Thursday, January 21, 2010  It’s a common practice to measure failure or success of a project based on the initial functionality requirements and initial cost and schedule estimated. The Standish Group publishes its Chaos report for software projects which terms a project as a "Success" if it is completed on time, on budget, and satisfying all the initial requirements. Projects are deemed a "Challenged" if functionality is achieved but cost and schedule over runs occur and "Failed" if a project is cancelled while in execution. However there are other factors e.g. Tom DeMarco’s  Estimation Quality Factor  and Boehm’s Cone of Uncertainty (COU) ...
Original Post Date: Friday, January 15, 2010 Failed software projects are always bad but there are additional complications when there is a contract in place to deliver the software.  Disputes over failed software can result in costly litigation that generally damages both the vendor and the buyer. According to observations of Capers Jones in "Conflict and Litigation Between Software Clients and Developers" (2007) , 5% of the projects his clients were involved in either had litigation pending or were currently involved in litigation over project failures.  His findings indicate that it is very large projects, over 10,000 Function Points that ...
Original Post Date: Friday, December 18, 2009 The cost estimating community mourns the loss of a true pioneer this week. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. Frank Freiman has a special place in the history of PRICE Systems as his innovative work is directly responsible for the company’s existence today. This is a classic case of where one man can truly made a difference. Thousands of estimators across the world have benefited and continue to benefit from his accomplishments. Frank began studying the applications of statistical quality control as an officer in the US Army during World War ...
Original Post Date: Monday, November 30, 2009 It seems that business and government today is mired in cost-benefit analysis. The cost side is fairly easy to understand: how much money will the business (or government) have to expend to deliver a given service? Benefits are a little harder to quantify. First, there is the difference between monetary versus non-monetary or social benefits. Some things like the office Christmas Party do not make any money but they keep morale high. Second, there is the difference between short-term and long-term costs and benefits. The company using Blackberries may bring the immediate satisfaction ...
Original Post Date: Friday, November 20, 2009 Bill Scheessele’s article in the Washington Technology, Time for a hard look at marketing strategies, is a quick read about organization’s reacting to these new economic conditions. He suggests that most organizations are... "Attempting to move forward with an obsolete business development operation, reacting to fewer opportunities and shifting budgets by shedding business development personnel, sticking with an outdated business development process that everyone in the industry uses, or doing nothing while waiting on the sidelines for conditions to change are not reasonable decisions." This is further supported by the recent flurry of acquisitions both ...
Original Post Date: Friday, November 13, 2009 Recently, Dale Shermon presented a webinar, "Preparing Bids Faster with Fewer Resources".  The content for the webinar was taken, as the title of this post suggests, from the recently released book Systems Cost Engineering. The webinar discussed how parametric estimating could dramatically decrease the time and thus the cost that is required to make important business decisions about whether or not to pursue contract opportunities. There are critical activities that organizations engage in every time there is an RFP such as Bid/No Bid decisions or competitive assessments.  So whether the RFP calls for estimating software costs or ...
Original Post Date: Wednesday, September 30, 2009 Recently I was interviewed by Doug Beizer of Federal  Computer Weekly for an article about the shift of government agencies away from custom software development and towards the use of cloud computing.  The interest in this topic seemed to stem from the introduction of Apps.gov online store earlier this month.   Having been in the software cost estimation community for more than 25 years, I have experienced this transition first hand but never really stopped to think about the whys and wherefores until questioned by Doug.  It was an interesting stroll down memory lane.  As an example, ...
Original Post Date: Wednesday, September 16, 2009 While most of the books on the topic of parametric modeling take a look at detailed techniques and fundamentals, such as building parent/child relationships or the mathematics behind models, Systems Cost Engineering, takes a more practical perspective to answer a very basic question:  What can parametric estimating do for my organization and how can we implement it?  The book covers an array of business processes that can be dramatically improved with the application of a standardized parametric cost estimating framework. These processes exist across multiple phases of a program's lifecycle such as early concept planning through development and production. Chapters are ...
Original Post Date: Thursday, August 13, 2009 Let’s start with a simple test. Which is greater: the number of six-letter English words that have "n" as the fifth letter or the number of six-letter words ending in "ing"? If you are like most people you’re thinking the correct answer is six-letter words ending in "ing". But most people are wrong. And the reason is simple, people rely on what they can easily recall. Since it’s much easier to think of 6-letter words ending in "ing" the fact that people come to that conclusion isn't surprising. Psychologists refer to this as availability bias. ...