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I have just been perusing the latest issue of Crosstalk – The Journal of Defense Software Engineering.  I always start at the back with Backtalk.  This generally provides a more light-hearted opinion on the current issues theme.  This issues Backtalk (as is true with many issues recently) was authored by David Cook, a professor at Stephen F Austin State University.  This is particularly appropriate because this month’s issue is focused on the state of software education – who better to have an opinion than someone whose job it is to deliver that education. In the article David talks about the ...
Here’s a great article about technical debt - “How Technical Debt Threatens Your Brain Capital”.  The author focuses not on the principle and interest of the technical debt, but rather the impact that technical debt has on the development team.  The author’s thesis is that one of the not-so-often talked about side effects of unaddressed and lingering technical debt is how its existence begins to chip away at the morale of your team.  If the product owners and the business are constantly choosing short cuts to get features to market without committing enough time to refactor these short-cuts, they are creating ...
Here’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately  - technical debt and its relationships to software maintenance costs.  Technical debt speaks to the structural quality of software applications.  Technical debt is incurred for many different reasons; sometimes it is intentional when shortcuts are taken to meet a time to market requirement; sometimes it occurs because a development team gets sloppy about applying good coding practices (or a development team has not documented coding practices); sometimes it happens when the technology in an application is not kept up to date and it literally gets lapped by technology. Not all technical ...
Here’s a great blog about estimates. The first thing I liked about it was the author managed to quote Lewis Caroll in a blog about software estimation.  You can’t really go wrong if you can quote Lewis Caroll and invoke iconic memories about “Through the Looking Glass”.  The specific quote refers to the word “Estimate” and goes like this - “When I use a word it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.” The author posits that maybe before we perform an estimate, and certainly before we consume one – we should remind ourselves ...
The CRASH (CAST Research on Application Software Health) report for 2104/2015 is out and an Executive Summary can be downloaded for free from this link.  This is the third biennial report produced by CAST based on an analysis of the data collected by their  AppMarq static code analysis tool to develop a report on the health of software projects based on their structural quality.  Structural quality speaks to the engineering goodness of the architecture and code for an application, rather than the functional quality that results by delivering software that solves users’ problems.  CAST determines structural quality of code ...
Original Post Date: Monday, August 18, 2014 I had the distinct pleasure last week of attending the 2014 NASA Cost Symposium.  While to the uninitiated this might sound like a bit of a snoozer – it was actually quite interesting and proved to be the source of a ton of valuable information.  The event took place at Langley Research Center in Hampton, VA – near Williamsburg, Newport News, and not too far from Virginia Beach.  My participation was somewhat self-serving in that I was there to talk about PRICE’s new Space Missions Cost Models for TruePlanning®.  This model – discussed ...
Original Post Date: Friday, July 25, 2014 July 2014 marked the 25th anniversary of Neil Armstrong’s historic stroll on the moon.  If you go to the NASA website and select Missions you’ll probably be amazed at the number of missions in NASA's past, present, and future.  Unless you’re living under a rock, you know about the International Space Station, and the Hubble telescope but I’m guessing there’s a lot about space missions that many of us are unaware of.  The Dawn spacecraft, which was launched in 2007 from Cape Canaveral, was sent into Space to help NASA scientists learn about the history ...
Original Post Date: Tuesday, July 1, 2014 Whether you’re doing a software cost estimate to support a Bid and Proposal effort, a software valuation, should cost analysis, or to develop a detailed project plan, it is vitally important to understand the ‘size’ of the software you are estimating.  The problem with software size is that it tends to fall into the intangible realm of reality.  If you tell me you are building a widget that weighs 13 pounds, I can really start to get my head around the task at hand.  If I’m chatting about this with my European colleagues, ...
Original Post Date: Friday, June 20, 2014 Proposal estimates based on grassroots engineering judgment are necessary to achieve company buy-in, but often are not convincing or not in sync with the price-to-win.  This contention can be resolved through by comparing the grassroots estimate to an estimate developed using data driven parametric techniques.  Parametric estimates apply statistical relationships to project data to determine likely costs for a project.  Of course, for a parametric model to properly support this cross check of the grassroots estimate, the proper data must be fed into the model.  This most likely requires the estimator to reach ...
Original Post Date: Thursday, March 20, 2014 Here’s a conundrum.  You are a software estimator responsible for helping the decision makers in your company determine what business to pursue and what business to steer clear of.  You know, that to win profitable business, your company first needs to decide which opportunities are golden and which should be avoided.  You also know, that at the point at which this decision needs to be made, there is very little information available to support a quality estimate.  Add to this the fact that software estimation is hard   at almost any stage.  What’s ...