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On April 17th, 2018 I will be presenting a webinar through the IT Metrics & Productivity Institute (ITMPI) where I will discuss, the Internet of Things, the Network of Things, enabling technologies along with examples of IoT/NoT implementations that are changing the way people live and work. The live webinar is free and registration is found at this link. In 1926, Nikola Tesla said, “When wireless is perfectly applied the whole earth will be converted into a huge brain, which in fact it is, all things being particles of a real and rhythmic whole…. And the instruments through which ...
Forrester Research predicts that by 2022, more than 66 million households in the US – about 50% of all homes – will have a smart speaker like Amazon Echo or Google Home.1 Our TVs are only going to get smarter, too; through integration with smart speakers, consumers will have complete hands-free control, navigating their televisions simply by speaking. But consumer technology, such as home automation and personal electronics, isn’t the only big player in the tech industry. 2018 will bring new advances, applications and discoveries, so let’s review some of 2017’s most trending technologies and how they will evolve in ...
If you’re in charge of cost estimating for software development projects, there are several potential oversights you could make that may lead to faulty estimates and unwanted cost surprises. Let’s review a few common project process misconceptions and the added costs that you might be missing in your estimates: 1. Forgetting to incorporate infrastructure costs Successful software development projects require more than just a few desktops and a network connection. Crucial infrastructure elements that need to be set up for the development team include configuration of the source code repository, artifact management servers, test environments for manual and automated test activities ...
Check out this article  - “New software can detect when people text and drive” – turns out that researchers at the University of Waterloo have created algorithms that recognize distracted driver behaviors such as texting, cell phone usage or reaching into the backseat to retrieve items.  Using cameras and artificial intelligence to detect and classify distracted behaviors. Machine learning employed to ‘inform’ the algorithms that are at the heart of this technology.  The algorithms build on work that has been done at the university’s Centre for Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence creating intelligence to recognize blinking eyes, pupil dilation, ...
Check out this presentation by Dr. Ken Nidiffer of the Software Engineering Institute (SEI) at Carnegie Mellon University – presented at the STC 2017 Conference at NIST.  According to NDAA 2013, Section 933  “Software assurance provides the required level of confidence that software functions as intended (and no more) and is free of vulnerabilities, either intentionally or unintentionally designed or inserted in software throughout the lifecycle.” It was clear from this and several other presentations at the conference that the way to achieve software assurance is to integrate it thoroughly into the system acquisition lifecycle.  Nidiffer detailed some of the ...
I just recently attended the 28th Annual IEEE Software Technology Conference (STC) sponsored by IEEE and hosted and the National Institute of Standards (NIST).    The conference provided attendees with incredible quality content – 8 wonderful keynote sessions and 51 great presentations (OK – I didn’t attend all of them obviously but the ones I did were insightful, useful and informative.  STC was founded in 1989  by the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition (Communications, Computers, and Support Systems), Mr. Lloyd Mosemann, through the Software Technology Support Center (STSC) at Hill Air Force Base.  The purpose of the ...
Several weeks back I attended the Practical Software Measurement (PSM) Users Group in Crystal City Virginia.  This is a small but good conference that combines presentations on many aspects of measurement for software and systems with workshops in the afternoon where government, industry and academia work together to address issues of import to system and software measurement.  As you might imagine, there were several presentations focused specifically on cybersecurity - a topic that is becoming more and more of an issue in our industry. All were quite good but one particularly enlightening presentation was presented by Joe Jarzombek of Synopsis ...
Driverless cars – brilliant idea or completely frightening?  But if you look at the Google Car – which has logged over 700,000 road miles with only two accidents both of which involved missteps of a human driver – maybe it’s not such a bad idea.  Joshua Schank of the Eno Center for Transportation is quoted here as saying “People are not great at driving – 30,000 people die in in car accidents each year (in the United States).  Machines can be much better than humans when it comes to driving; they don’t drink or text and can think faster”.  ...
The Capability Maturity Model Integration – Development (CMMI-Dev) is a model designed to help organizations achieve and institutionalize process maturity. CMMI specifies the goals that need to be achieved to reach a specific maturity or capability level – it is neither rigid nor prescriptive with how exactly these goals are to be met.   Agile is a philosophy and set of tenets  for software projects that are characterized by highly collaborative, cross-functional teams who work closely with their customers to deliver regular increments of functional software capability that the customers and end users are happy with.  Neither the agile philosophy ...
The 2017 Crash Report is now available.   This is a report of CAST’s Research on application software health.  The results are based on a study of the structural quality of 1850 applications totaling more than one billion lines of code from around the world based on five health factors that measure: Robustness – measuring the likelihood of outages and time to repair based on poor implementation practices Security – measuring violations of secure coding practices which can lead to security breaches and data theft Performance Efficiency – measuring potential performance  ...
Check out this article on “The History and Purpose of the Capability Maturity Model (CMM)” (https://toughnickel.com/business/The-History-and-Purpose-of-the-Capability-Maturity-Model-CMM) It provides an interesting and thought provoking accounting of how the Carnegie Mellon University’s (CMU’s) Software Engineering Institute (SEI) came to be and how the quest of NASA and the US Air Force lead the charge to improve software quality.  According to the article – “The Capability Maturity Model was developed to ensure success when success really matters – at NASA and in the military where lives are on the line and success is survival”.  The problem the industry had with this quest ...
Check out the November/December issue of Crosstalk (http://www.crosstalkonline.org/issues/novdec-2016.html) “Beyond the Agile Manifesto.”  Here you will find several really great articles on the uses and the future of agile development.  As usual I started at the end with David Cook’s Backtalk article – “Too Agile for my Own Good”( http://static1.1.sqspcdn.com/static/f/702523/27309805/1477697823283/201611-Cook.pdf?token=ayD00sE4rcknGJpn6XEk1O08YBk%3D).  Cook not only shared whimsical information about his favorite grocery items along with his curmudgeon-like  frustration with the stores insistence on changing things up occasionally by moving familiar items to unfamiliar locations throughout the store.  Cook admits however that this behavior – while originally annoying has resulted in improvements in the ...
Crowdsourcing is the practice of harnessing the power of the crowd to solve problems or accomplish certain tasks.  The expression Crowdsourcing was coined as a portmanteau of the words crowd and outsourcing.  While advances in technology have pushed this practice to the forefront recently – the notion has been around for a long time. It is a participative online activity where questions and tasks are proposed by an individual or organization via a particular crowdsourcing platform.  Individuals or groups of individuals who belong to that community – accept the challenge and attempt to answer the question or complete the proposed ...
If you’re like me and subscribe to or follow sites and people who care about software, it is likely you are regularly barraged with emails, Tweets, LinkedIn Updates, etc. discussing technical debt and attributing many computer related disasters to be a direct result of technical debt.  The notion of technical debt was introduced in 1992 by Ward Cunningham, writing “Shipping first time code is like going into debt.  A little debt speeds up development so long as it is paid back promptly with a rewrite” [1].  The term technical debt is often used as a metaphor to help ease ...
Last week as I sat in my office gazing out the window, I was struck by the throngs of people outside my window lurching distractedly through the parking lot staring at their phones.  Turns out that the water tower in the back of our office is a Poke Stop – part of the new Pokemon Go craze.  In case you live under a rock, Pokemon Go is the new smart phone game that allows one to wonder around the real (physical) world collecting Pokemon.  The game can be downloaded for free for either the iPhone or Android.  Once you ...
Here’s a great article written by Charles Symon’s discussing current challenges in software project estimation and how different organizational cultures deal with them differently.  http://nesma.org/2015/10/chaotic-and-controlled-software-project-estimating/.  According to the author, in a study of 105 software projects completed between 1997 and 2007 in the UK public sector – 30% were terminated, 57% experienced cost overruns averaging 30.5% and 33% suffered major delays. (“Cost over-runs, delays and terminations: 105 outsourced public escort ICT projects – D. Whitfield).  And this is only one study; any of us who live in the software world have heard more than our share of tales of ...
http://static1.1.sqspcdn.com/static/f/702523/26890568/1456888603297/201603-Cook.pdf?token=0f54EHOm9BNwSNhf3UAOmWk1mjs%3D Check out this article from the March/April issue of Crosstalk.  As is my custom, I start from the back with BackTalk – usually a short somewhat pithy commentary (General written by David Cook of Austin State University) on software related topics.  In this issue David starts with a stroll down memory lane – his own personal journey into software engineering – beginning back in the days when we when coded using cards or paper tape or connected to a mainframe via a 300 baud modem.   The point of the article was Security and Defensive Coding – he started with ...
Many people suggest that the first instance of an Internet of Things object occurred in the early 80’s with a Coke machine in the Computer Science Department of Carnegie Mellon University.  Apparently the Coke machine was located some distance from the department and the programmers were constantly trekking to the machine for find that it was out of their preferred beverage or to find that it had just been refilled and all the beverages were at room temperature.  Programmers being programmers, they decided to use technology to solve their problem.  They installed sensors and developed a program that would ...
“This year companies are focusing their attention on private and hybrid clouds.  Numbers show that hybrid cloud adoption is on fire while Docker and DevOps’ presence becomes indisputable.  2015 may have been the year of the cloud, but this year it is unstoppable; if surveys are right, we should expect 2016 to become the true year of the cloud”.  According to Bernard Golden of CIO magazine, the battle of the infrastructure is over, applications will be the push going forward.  Businesses, especially small and medium size businesses have accepted the fact that in many cases moving their infrastructure to the ...
As a builder of cost estimation models, I am constantly look for new sources of data and new ideas and technologies focused on the analysis of this data.  For this reason I like to keep my finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the world of Big Data and Predictive Analytics.  Towards this goal I happened upon an interesting post the other day that I thought I might share.  While it has nothing to do with cost estimation or cost estimating models, it does shed some pretty interesting light on the ways that the technology around predictive analytics ...
The Jan/Feb 2016 Crosstalk recently became available on line http://www.crosstalkonline.org/.  In it you will find several great articles but there is one that is a must read if collaboration with a team is an important aspect of your job.  Alistair Cockburn authored a great article call “Increasing collaboration by the Minute”.  In this article he gives a brief summary of the evolution of collaboration citing as well some missteps along the way. As a percent who frequently collaborates with teams, he reflects that he often finds himself in a situation where he wishes he had some tools, right then ...
While there was a time in my life when I was not a huge baseball fan – it was fun for a few innings but once I had my fill of hot dogs, peanuts and soda – I was ready to go home.  This changed the day my husband informed me that it was time to sign our four year old up for T-ball.  At least the transformation started that day.  As a mother of two up and coming little leaguers, I spent a lot of time watching baseball games.  And rather than be one of those mothers that ...
In 2015, the Systems Engineering Research Center (SERC) published the Software Cost Estimation Metrics Manual for Defense Systems. This manual presents the results of research conducted by SERC Researchers Ray Madachy and Brad Clark, who with the help of Barry Boehm, have documented the core metric definitions along with relevant and useful cost estimating relationships for software intensive defense systems. The e-book is available for download at the following link… http://cdn.sercuarc.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Software-Cost-Estimation-Metrics-Manual-for-Defense-Systems.pdf What’s great about this manual is that it covers best practices specific to software systems in the areas of measurement, data collection, normalization, analysis, benchmarking, and CER development.  The ...
Last week I had the pleasure of attending the 30th annual COCOMO Forum in Arlington, VA.  As always it was an informative and enjoyable exchange of software and system estimating topics and challenges with some of the brightest practitioners in the industry.  Topics ranged from technical debt and software maintenance, early phase effort and schedule estimation, COSMIC function points and various data analytics topics.  In addition to the presentations there were several lively workshop panels discussing and debating future directions for the COCOMO and CoSysmo models (contemplating the 3.0 versions of each of these models. While all the talks were ...
Original Post Date: September 30, 2015 ‘It’s crazy to think that you’ll be good at estimating things that haven’t happened yet, if you can’t even accurately say how long things that have happened took.”  This quote from the blog post “5 Ways Software Developers Can Become Better at Estimation” (http://www.javacodegeeks.com/2014/10/5-ways-software-developers-can-become-better-at-estimation.html)  speaks volumes.  The current mantra – at least in the Aerospace and Defense communities is data driven estimation.  Estimates without solid project history data to back them up are consistently rejected or approved with substantial risk assigned.  Data collection in the world of estimation is no longer a nice to ...
Original Post date: September 30, 2015 I recently read an interesting article in IEEE Spectrum “The 2015 Top Ten Programming Languages” (http://spectrum.ieee.org/computing/software/the-2015-top-ten-programming-languages).  The article fairly states that popularity of a programming language is clearly subjective – depending on what the goals of the end user are but they tried to adjust their weightings based on their perception of the interests of the members of IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers). Many of the results of their ranking were expected and not particularly interesting.  Java, C, C++, C# and Python continue to be the top 5 programming languages that developers ...
Original Post Date: September 30, 2015 The Internet of Things (IoT) is a network of things (people, objects, animals, etc) that can share data without human to human or human to machine interactions.  A ‘thing’ in the IoT represents any object that can be assigned an IP address and can transfer data over a network.  Examples of such objects include an animal with a microchip embedded in its collar to monitor health or for easy location, a person wearing an activity tracker, a person with a medical implant that communicates health conditions to a hospital or health care professional, a ...
Original Post Date: June 19, 2015 Ward Cunningham introduced the notion of technical debt in 1992, writing “Shipping first time code is like going into debt.  A little debt speeds up development so long as it is paid back promptly with a rewrite”.  Technical debt can be described as a quantification of the amount of ‘should fix’ issues that remain in production code.  The term “technical debt” is a metaphor used to ease business leaders understanding of the costs of making poor decisions during development or making wise decisions during development (such as a short cut to meet a time ...
Original Post Date: June 18, 2015 There is a movement afoot suggesting that there may be compelling reasons for employees to use their own technology (phones, laptops, tablets) in the workplace.  And it may actually be a movement inspired by employees not employers.  A recent survey (http://www.zdnet.com/article/research-74-percent-using-or-adopting-byod/) found that 74% of employers are allowing (or plan to allow in the near future) employees to use their Personal Mobile Devices (PMDs) for business purposes.  The benefits to the employee of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) include the convenience of not having to lug around personal and business devices, the ability to ...
Original Post Date: April 27, 2015 Check out this article ‘Pizza as a Service’ (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140730172610-9679881-pizza-as-a-service) which uses Pizza to describe the different delivery models for cloud computing.  It presents a good case that should be understandable to anyone who has ever eaten a pizza and should provide a great guide to organizational decision makers when considering cloud solutions for their business.  The author uses pizza analogies to describe Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (Saas) in an effort to provide non-technical folks a way to think about cloud computing options ...
Being that software measurement is a topic of great interest, I will occasionally look to Google for inspiration and trends.  Often these searches will return several of my own papers and it’s fun to revisit them and think about how much as things change, they remain the same. Recently, I stumbled across a paper I had written many years ago – it was in fact the second or third article that I had published in a magazine (see the article here).  I read through it briefly and was really struck by how relevant it still is today.  The paper ...
The Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA) which Congress passed in December of 2014 is touted as the “biggest legislative overhaul in nearly 20 years to the way the federal government procures, budgets and maintains IT”  (read more in this report).  And even in this day and age of extreme political gaming, one issue on which there is consensus in Washington and across the country is the fact that the federal government (and the American people) would certainly benefit by getting their IT house in order.  The act strives to put the authority and responsibility for IT decisions ...
Recently I was asked for more detail about the implementation of COSMIC Function Points as a functional size measure for the software estimation model in TruePlanning® (True S).  Common Software Measurement International Consortium (COSMIC) is a group of software measurement experts who in 1998 recognized the need to improve on the traditional function point methods.  Because the origin of International Function Point User Group (IFPUG) Function Points with IBM, the method tends to favor business systems (though advances have been made to extend IFPUG Function Points with “Software Non-Functional Assessment Process (SNAP) – more on this to come in ...
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 ...
Original Post Date: Monday, December 30, 2013 Unless you live under a rock, you are aware of the healthcare.gov rollout disaster.  While similar IT failures are regularly in the news, the high profile of healthcare.gov has really mainstreamed awareness of the fragility of many IT projects.  Check out this article entitled ‘The Worst IT project disasters of 2013’.  It details IT project failures such as:  IBM’s failure to deliver on a payroll system project that could potentially cost taxpayers up to $1.1 Billion dollars US.    SAP’s failure to deliver satisfactorily on requirements for ...
Original Post Date: Tuesday, December 3, 2013 Forrester defines big data as “the techniques and technologies that make capturing value from data at extreme scales economical”.   Wikipedia defines it as “a collection of data sets so large and complex that it becomes difficult to process using on-hand database management tools or traditional data processing applications.  The challenges include capture, curation, storage, search, sharing, analysis and visualization”.  Many use the 3Vs to describe the characteristics of big data – Volume, Variety and Velocity.   Basically Big Data refers to number crunching of epic proportion, accomplishing in minutes what may have ...
Original Post Date: Wednesday, October 30, 2013 Agile development practices have enabled software development organizations to deliver quality software that optimizes the customer’s satisfaction with the value they receive for their money.  That being said, agile development may not be the best approach for every software development project.  Alistair Cockburn, agile development specialist and one of the initiators of the agile software development movement, acknowledges that “agile is not for every project”.  Further elucidating this point, Cockburn opines:  “small projects, web projects, exploratory projects, agile is fabulous; it beats the pants off of everything else, but for NASA, no”. .  ...
Original Post Date: Thursday, February 21, 2013 I recently attended a webinar presented by David Herron of the David Consulting Group (DCG) discussing a recently released specification for the automation of function point counting (available on the Consortium for IT Software Quality (CISQ) site .  Function point counting is a process through which software ‘size’ is measured by the amount of business value that the software delivers to the end user.  Function Point counts are thought by many to be a far superior means of measuring software ‘size’ because they are technology neutral and not impacted by factors such as ...
Original Post Date: Thursday, September 27, 201 I am frequently questioned by clients and prospects about the applicability of PRICE’s parametric software estimation model to agile software development projects.  There are several ways one could respond to this.  My first thought is that if a shop is truly agile, they don’t need an estimation tool.  They know their development team velocity because agile teams are committed to measurement.  They also either know when they need to make a delivery – in which case whatever amount of software they’ve build by that point will be released.  Alternatively they may know ...
Original Post Date: Tuesday, October 2, 2012 This past year PRICE Systems has entered into a partnership with the International Benchmark Standards Group (ISBSG).  As part of this partnership we have a corporate subscription to both of their databases – the Development and Enhancement Database and the Maintenance and Support Database.  We can use these for analysis and to develop metrics that will help TruePlanning users be better software estimators.  The ISBSG is one of the oldest and most trusted sources for software project data.  They are a not for profit organization dedicated to improving software measurement at an international ...
Original Post Date: Thursday, September 27, 2012 I am frequently questioned by clients and prospects about the applicability of PRICE’s parametric software estimation model to agile software development projects.  There are several ways one could respond to this.  My first thought is that if a shop is truly agile, they don’t need an estimation tool.  They know their development team velocity because agile teams are committed to measurement.  They also either know when they need to make a delivery – in which case whatever amount of software they’ve build by that point will be released.  Alternatively they may know a ...