• Predictive Analytics for Improved Cost Management  



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Original Post Date: Wednesday, October 6, 2010 The key cost driver when estimating software costs is the size of the product. The problem is that there is no perfect technique available to measure and quantify the size of software. The two major techniques in use today are Source Lines of Code and Function Points.  Today we will talk about Source Lines or Code or SLOC. Source Lines of Code measures logical lines of code. It takes some of the uncertainty out of physical line of code measures by counting only complete statements (which can cross over more than on physical line). SLOC excludes comments and blank ...
Original Post Date: Wednesday, September 29, 2010 Earlier this month Under Secretary of Defense, Asthon Carter, spoke at the 2010 Annual Air and Space Conference. His speech touched on some of the 5 categories that he and Defense Secretary Robert Gates laid out in order to identify low value activities and reapportion approximately $100 billion dollars within the Defense Budget to higher value capabilities needed to support US Forces. The first of those categories he described has to do with "targeting affordability".  In the context of a specific Navy program he explained this concept in a simple practical manner:  "The way to do that is ...
Original Post Date: Wednesday, September 29, 2010 Recently I came across the word “off-label”.  It is the term used by the medical community when a drug is used to treat a condition for which it has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.   We sometimes use TruePlanning for “off-label” purposes. A good example would be using the TruePlanning Calibration tool to answer such questions as, what is the maximum number of source lines of code (SLOC) I can get and remain within my budget?  I call this TruePlanning Optimization. Here is an example answering the SLOC question. First begin ...
Original Post Date: Thursday, August 26, 2010 I  recently moved and thought about the need to do a new household budget. This got me to thinking of the budgeting capability in TruePlanning. First, you can use TruePlanning to determine a budget. The time phased output, either monthly or annually, is ideal for establishing a budget and budget profile for your project.  TruePlanning also splits the time phased costs into development, production, and operating and support categories. Be cautious, however, in using the Phase report. The System cost object costs are assigned by schedule duration, which may not necessarily reflect the actual project cost flow. A better choice may ...
Original Post Date: Tuesday, July 6, 2010  Those words describe the triangular probability distribution used by FRISK in performing risk analysis in TruePlanning. FRISK requires two major assumptions on the part of the user. The first is that the combination or convolution of a number of triangular distributions results in a log normal distribution. The second is that there is correlation between cost objects.  The triangular distribution is completely defined by three simple inputs: an optimistic value, a pessimistic value, and a most likely value. By eliciting information from engineers, I have found that they are much more willing to commit to a range ...
Original Post Date: Wednesday, June 23, 2010 I have been working with several clients on data collection and repository creation this spring. One common theme that comes up is what data to collect and how to use it to make intelligent decisions about projects. And that’s the impetus for my little limerick above.  The goal of data collection is wisdom. In the estimation world wisdom means knowing when it’s safe to bet your shirt on this new project you want to initiate. If you keep that perspective in mind it becomes much easier to identify what information you need to make wise decisions and ...
Original Post Date: Thursday, June 10, 2010 This week I was thinking how useful the Export Import feature in TruePlanning can be. First, the Excel Import spreadsheet gives you an easy and convenient way to gather your data. In addition, it gives you an easy and convenient way to check and validate the data. When observing the data in a column format, it is so easy to spot and correct anomalies. Second, the Excel Import spreadsheet gives you an easy and convenient way to build your Product Breakdown Structure. No more inserting one cost object at a time. The Excel Import feature does it all ...
Original Post Date: Tuesday, June 8, 2010  Now that we know the background on the original concept of TRL's (Technology Readiness Levels - reference Arlene Minkiewicz's earlier blog post), we now want to address estimating costs associated with different TRL levels. It is important to realize that a model cannot estimate TRL costs by simply changing an input parameter. Rather the only way to estimate costs associated with different TRL levels is to model the scenario. For example, if you are estimating costs for TRL level 2 phase the input parameters would be very different than if estimating costs for TRL level ...
Original Post Date: Friday, April 30, 2010 I have been frequently asked to do crosschecks on other people’s software cost estimates which are potentially done in a variety of tools from spreadsheets to SLIM. One of the common operator errors I see from other users is not understanding what activities and resources are included in the outputs of the particular tool that they are estimating with. This is akin to deciding between two cars and not knowing if both come with the same sets of features (stereo, AC, heated seats).   With software estimation tools you need to know what work is getting estimated ...
Original Post Date: Friday, April 2, 2010  The newest version of TruePlanning has been released and distributed to customers. The new features were designed to make it easier to estimate entire systems, not just individual components or sub-systems. TruePlanning is an excellent solution in this regards. Systems that require you to estimate software costs, hardware costs, and the integration of multiple pieces of each can all be done in one framework. There are  specific features in this release, like input inheritance, that allow you to make changes at the top Project level which then flow throughout the entire system.  This saves an ...