Metrics and Measurement
A Guide to Sizing and Estimating Projects
Stakeholders involved with the development of software are frequently challenged to provide early and accurate software project estimates. It speaks poorly of the software community that accurate estimation practices, early in the lifecycle, have not been adequately resolved and standardized.
Three significant issues play a role in the estimating challenge:
- The need to identify and express, as early as possible in the project, the application software functional requirements requested by the user.
- The need to identify and express the application software non-functional requirements taking into account all of the technical and quality issues for the project.
- The need to understand the software development team's capability to deliver the required software solution within a specified environment taking into account all of the risk factors relating to the environment and people's skills and motivation. Once these issues are resolved, the effort required to deliver the product can be more accurately predicted.
Measuring the Effects of Process Improvement on Performance
If you don't ask for the return on process improvement in your organization, you will never know what it is. Perhaps a year or two ago, either with some coaching or because you're a born leader, you did all the right things as a sponsor of the process improvement initiative. You fought for the investment budget, you helped set the process improvement goals, and you established the incentive structure. But then you quickly became busy with other, more urgent mattersthe annual budget cycle, perhaps a business development project, or you had to help save a big customerthe daily "emergencies" and operational problems.
How to Manage Performance: Kaplan and Norton's Balanced Scorecard
After working with several pioneering technology and manufacturing companies, Robert Kaplan, a Harvard Business School professor, and David Norton, president of a management consulting firm, found that performance management was defined very narrowly, focusing almost exclusively on financial measures. They concluded that financial performance alone was insufficient to accurately measure an organization's achievement and total value and that a broader approach was needed.
In their book, The Balanced Scorecard: Translating Strategy into Action, published in 1996, Kaplan and Norton defined a scorecard model, whereby in addition to financial measures, organizational performance should include measures from a customer perspective, an internal business process perspective, and a perspective measuring employee innovation and learning.
Sometimes referred to as the four perspectives model, the name "Balanced Scorecard" was chosen to reflect the need for organizations to manage using a balanced assessment of performance measures. A good scorecard, therefore, includes a mix of core outcome measures common to most strategies, and performance drivers that reflect the uniqueness of a particular strategy. The measures and drivers selected should distinguish between long- and short-term objectives, between financial and non-financial measures, between lagging and leading indicators and between internal and external performance perspectives. Ultimately, all measures need to be tied back to financial performance. Originally conceived as a performance measurement system, executives using it encouraged the authors to further its potential as a strategic management system.
Also new this issue:
Reducing Change on Projects
Marco Sampietro and Tiziano Villa
Changes to projects may come from various sources: they may be encouraged
by clients, they may imposed by regulatory changes, they may result from
unexpected moves by the competition, and they may come from within.
Changes belonging to the last group include those supported by project
team members. Project team members, in performing the activities they
are responsible for, may in fact request different types of changes: the
renegotiation of schedules or the budget for the activity, a change to the
activity's expected output, a change to the input necessary to carry it out,
a change of processes or the instrumental means supporting it, and a
change in the other collaborators involved in the activity.